Monday, 06 May 2013 06:20

Portfolio as Social Process

Dialogic Learning

In my studies this week, my classmates and I have been discussing dialogic learning. We have been discussing how we can learn from each other and arrive at common knowledge or new knowledge through having conversations with each other. I certainly had a lot to say since I spend much of my time talking to you individually about your teaching and research projects, or going over your work.

Since my own work and studies are related to portfolios, I have been giving a lot of through to how dialogic learning can support or enhance the portfolio process.

One idea I have been playing with is, “asynchronous presence”, or the art of ‘e-being’, or something else. Perhaps one of you can suggest a catchy phrase that captures this sentiment.

Learning is Unique

In a discussion of constructivist learning in a learning centered arena, Swan (2010) notes that one of the basic tenets is that students since “all learning is unique to the individual” (p. 115), each of those individuals will have a unique perspective on the learning experience in any particular classroom. This supports the notion of a portfolio process in that these unique perspectives should be shared with others. How do we do that? The missing element, I believe, is that all important feedback and contact between people: the dialogic learning, or perhaps the conversational leadership.

Swan (2010) also notes that students need to receive continuous feedback or at least be able to interact with others in order to reflect on how others view their work. Using learning platforms such as BB9 or Moodle can provide instances of feedback through online quizzes and so forth, but the real value of the reflective process comes from more personalized feedback from other participants. The portfolio process needs social interaction – a community.

Community of Inquiry

The community of inquiry model (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008) builds on two notions. One is the idea that learning is a social activity, which hearkens back to Vygotsky. The other notion is inquiry. Higher education in essence is based on the notion of inquiry.

As with the community of inquiry model where one teacher cannot hope to provide sufficient teaching presence to all participants, in a portfolio process the responses and guidance need to come from the participants as much as from the teacher. In any classroom, the students are as much an integral part of a classroom or a course as are the faculty or the resources. (Haughey, 2010, Leslie, 2013)

A complaint of online discussions, which are the primary form of communication in a community of inquiry, especially in an online learning format, is that while discussion provides participants with time to think, these discussion are often far too social (Swan, 2010; Leslie, 2008; Leslie 2012). However, I have argued (Leslie, 2013) that with the proper instruction of the community of inquiry model, the quality of interactions can be improved.

Additionally, face-to-face learning tends to be more teacher-oriented (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008). Perhaps the physical presence of others created a power situation in which one person tends to be deemed the expert in a situation and this causes others to be less forthcoming with their experiences. Another benefit of online forums is that “Written communication [is] precise and permanent” (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008, p. 23), so we can go back and review not only others’ thoughts, but also our own.

Finally, Swan (2010) offers a comment that I think receives far too little notice. She states that “online learning provides opportunities for critical discourse without the obligation to necessarily conform, which sometimes happens in a face-to-face context. (p. 151)”

Portfolio Learning as Social Process

According to Cleveland-Innes and Garrison (2010), online learning, or blended learning for that matter is the “integration of connectivity with asynchronicity” (p. 19) and this integration allows for unique forms of communication. However, it seems that we still need to figure out how to manage those unique forms. Portfolio is not a new form, but I would argue that a portfolio process is a new approach that will allow us to make the most of our learning environment. Miller (2010) adds that another challenge is how can we create a sense of community among our students, and states that, “web applications facilitate a degree of collaboration and active creation of knowledge that are not feasible in a typical classroom” (p. 41). Again, the question is, how do we manage that collaboration?

portfolio social process

portfolio social process v2

Another issue that reminds us of Schon is that there is now a greater demand to show what is being taught and what is being learned (Kanuka & Brooks, 2010). How do we monitor what is really being learned without checking and asking through the teacher or provider? Assessments and tasks do not always tell the story and perhaps greater learning is achieved through the reflection and dialogue being pursued for interest’ sake and not for a grade.

How do we help learners demonstrate competence? A collection of artefacts that can help to demonstrate what exactly you have been doing out there for the last 8 weeks!

Finally, from one of my favourite authors: “Only through communication can life hold meaning” (Freire, 1996, p. 58). What good is the possession of knowledge if we cannot share or use it to enhance our lives?


Cleveland-Innes, M. F., & Garrison, D. R. (2010). (eds) An Introduction to Distance Education. New York: Routledge.

Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the Opppresed. London: Penguin Books.

Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Haughey, M. (2010). Teaching and Learning in Distance Education Before the Digital Age. In Cleveland-Innes, M. F., & Garrison, D. R. (2010). (eds) An Introduction to Distance Education. New York: Routledge.

Kanuka, H. & Brooks, C. (2010). Distnace Education in a Post-Fordist Time: Negotiating Difference. In Cleveland-Innes, M. F., & Garrison, D. R. (2010). (eds) An Introduction to Distance Education. New York: Routledge.

Leslie, P. (2008, October). Post-Secondary Students’ Purposes for Blogging. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3). Retrieved February 8, 2012, from

Leslie, P. (2012, September). Portfolio Approach to Learning: Application with Educational Technology Students. In S. Dowling (Ed.), Opening up Learning (Vol. 1, pp. 153-162). Abu Dhabi: HCT Press. Retrieved from

Leslie, P. (2013) Communities of Inquiry and Assessment: Graded Discussions. In Print.

Miller, G. (2010) Organization and Technology of Distance Education. In Cleveland-Innes, M. F., & Garrison, D. R. (2010). (eds) An Introduction to Distance Education. New York: Routledge.

Swan, K. (2010). Teaching and Learning in Post-Industrial Distance Education. In Cleveland-Innes, M. F., & Garrison, D. R. (2010). (eds) An Introduction to Distance Education. New York: Routledge.

Published in EDUC 408
Monday, 29 April 2013 05:34

EDUC 409 - Tell me a story

This week we are going to review some aspects of your performance and try to give you a chance to use a new (old) tool.


One issue that I am encountering is the writing of daily reflections. Many of you are asking if you can do them once a week. If you do, then they are not daily.

Also, many of you are asking if you can just do them in Word and then paste them in. This is also not acceptable because then you will be tempted to not only paste them all on a weekly basis, but also write them on a weekly basis. Please see this post to clarify what you can do.


Related to your reflections is the concept of anecdotal evidence. Many of you are collecting surveys and interview data. Much of this is anecdotal in that it is a collection of short sotries, examples and comments. Please see this post for some links and comments on this type of research.


Please complete this survey which we hope will help to make your TP experience better.

Story Telling

I have talked about this before, and will most likely talk about it again - Story telling.

First of all, let me ask you the meaning of:


to be authentic

I realize that this word can be applied to many different situations. I want you to think about what it means in your teaching....

Good. Now, lets watch the video below. Make notes.

According to the person talking, what are the five main points that you need to consider when telling a story?

Now, over the last few weeks I have watched many of you tell a story. I have seen some of you create digital stories, I have seen some of you sing a story, I have seen some of you tell stories in English and tell stories in Arabic.

I would like to see those stories get better and better!

Go to the Education Community Site:

First, log in and then edit your profile. You change the language for your profile to Arabic.

Second, find the discussion forum topic: Telling a story.

  • In two or three sentences, discuss either:
    • one of these points and how it can make your story better. Use a story you have told recently.
    • story telling in general and how it can help your teaching. Again, use a story you have told recently.

Peek here to see the five points

Published in EDUC 409
Thursday, 13 December 2012 22:03

SharePoint for Portfolios

One Program, One Site

With the profusion of apps, sites social media and user accounts threatening to overwhelm even the most avid techie, 'users' are starting to look for a place where they can store documents and information.

My conversations with various faculty and students indicate that they want something web-based preferably, and something that comes in an app to give it that certain appeal. Furthermore, that certain place needs to be accessible to all, at all times, on all devices, via password. Finally, we don't want to have to pay (any more than we already are) for it.

My Site Home page

Let's sum that up:

  • Central location accessible to all
  • opens on all devices
  • web-based and so will not disappear in new wave of 'newness' 
  • reliable
  • password protected
  • Institutionally supported (i.e. you can call someone you actually know).
  • Saves more than just documents

Finally, it should come as an:

  • iPad APP
  • an Android APP
  • a web site
  • a mobile-enabled site
  • a webdav / FTP folder
  • open from campus and at home. 

samsumng s3 shot1Android App

ipad sp iconiPad App

So, how do we manage all of this? Well, I wrote an article about this last year. I also gave a workshop last year on this general topic.

For the purposes of this activity, lets start with the actual SharePoint site. Go to SharePoint, any SharePoint site at all. Check out this one. You may be asked to log in. If you are not an HCT employee, stop! Go somewhere else because you can progress no further.

In the top right corner, click on your name. Go to your My Site. That is just about it.

Note: When accessing SharePoint from home, or from a non-college computer, you need to add the domain to your username:

e.g. hctad\username

 General Overview

Managing Permissions:

  • Managing permissions - go to site actions >> site permissions >> You can add any HCT person, delete them, give them partial or full control and so on.
    • Be careful with this feature - inherited permissions means a 'knock-on' effect which may cause permission changes to cascade through subsites. 

sp heir

  • Go to SharePoint site and search for your program site. Note the following:
    • Personal tools – the same on every page, anywhere in SharePoint
    • Top link Bar – Can be inherited from top site to sub-sites – essential for easy navigation.
    • Quicklaunch Bar – changes from page to page, and from user to user depending on permissions. Go to the Ed-Tech site
    • WebParts – Individual sections of the page – can be added, moved and closed. Links to parts can be shown on Quicklaunch bar or on Top Link Bar. Every web part can be opened in its own page. Try it!
      • Main web Parts include:
        • Document libraries – can be accessed through Windows Explorer – Add a link
        • Lists – similar to Excel spreadsheets. (announcements, tasks, discussion boards)
        • Lists can be “out of the box”, or custom made. Look at Ed-Tech - Year 2
        • Can be sorted and filtered just like in Excel, or have “Views” to enable ease of use.
  • Go to your departmental site and view announcements. Create an alert.
  • Go to My Site (your My Site, not my My Site). Edit your profile and add a folder.

Once you have established your My Site. You can then make it accessible on your ipad or other devices.



APPS for SharePoint

Let's look at the ipad first. 

Go to the App store and search for SharePoint lite (or Colligo Briefcase). better yet, get both and compare. Then you can let me know which one you like best. The library should buy the pro version for you which is better.


Set the settings. Of course, don't forget to set them for your own departmental site, or your My Site.

    1. ipad ss share1
    2. ipad ss share2

Android user (like me)?

    1. Go to the App store and search for SharePoint lite.
    2. Install
    3. Set the settings. Of course, don't forget to set them for your own departmental site, or your My Site.
    4. samsumng s3 shot2
    5. Example of URL for my My site: (Don't forget the 's' in https).

Since we have some time... let's have a look at my new system. Another answer I am trying to provide to the profusion of sites and accounts and the sheer quantitiy of learning that we are all doing is to offer badges.

Look at the next article below (and previous) to this one. Then, go to the SWC Community web site. Please humour me! Once there, follow the instructions for the Portfolio Basics Badge.

Published in Articles 2012 - 2013
Saturday, 08 December 2012 02:55

Open Badges - Certificates of the future

I am very well aware of how much my students love to get certificates. Why, some of you even want a certificate for sitting in a coffee shop (an inside joke!). I have just come across a number of blog entries from my old classmate and source of techno-inspiration, Peter Rawsthorne and his Critical Technology Blog (see entries tagged openbadges or digitalbadges).

Images borrowed from Critical Technology

In a series of blog entries, Peter discusses the idea of monitoring and collecting evidence of achievement through a system of badges. I recall my days as a child in the Boy Scouts of Canada. One badge offered now was certainly not available 35 years ago or more: Computer Badge

How does this affect you? If you are a 4th year student and you are trying to figure out how you are going to manage the assessments that you might implement either as training for your teachers, or for your students, you might want to consider how you can implement a digital badge system.

Have a look at the Mozilla Open Badge system.

We will begin some experimentation with this system at our community site. Have another look at the Boy Scouts site and ponder some of their badges

Published in Articles 2012 - 2013
Friday, 21 September 2012 05:56

EDUC 1302 - Week 3 - Portfolio Learning

Last week we started to use your e-portfolio in SharePoint. Let's be clear:

  • SharePoint is a Microsoft CMS - content management system. The HCT uses it for its portal system, although the Sharjah Higher Colleges only use parts of it.
  • You control your MySite. I cannot access anything you do not want me too. This is a crucial feature of any portfolio software.
  • We can link to your profile and you should keep this updated.

This week

Technology in the Classroom

  • We will preview some of your Wiki entries. In order to keep your portfolio updated, you will make a link to your wiki entry. Where can you make the link?
  • What did you think of some of the other presentations?
  • How can we share some of the great ideas? Do we need another place to save ideas?

Portfolio Approach to Learning

  • Look at some of the portfolio links and do a little bit of reading about portfolios.
  • To understand the concept of e-portfolios, lets discuss this diagram:
  • coi
  • According to the diagram, you need to add your cognitive presence to your community. This can occur through the portfolio. 

Microsoft Word


  • We will also start working on our MS Word portfolio Brochure assignment. How does this work? Look in the Education SP site to find the assignment document.
    • Due: Week 5 - submit to SharePoint assignment dropbox

Use MS Word to create a brochure or A3 sized poster advertising / highlighting your e-portfolio. The submission will be in a word document format.

You should discuss the purpose or various uses of your e-portfolio supported by references to literature. You should provide an idea of what it will look like and what types of information and documents we might find there.

To prepare for the assignment, we will divide into groups, and each person will be responsible to take one feature from the ribbon and describe its use:

  • styles
  • shapes
  • smart art
  • headers
  • footers
  • columns
  • watermarks
  • citations
  • table of contents
  • comments
  • views


You can choose to design either a brochure (double-sided A4 page) or an A3 poster (one-sided but twice as big as A4).

Your brochure or poster should:

  • Use of variety of fonts including face, bold, italics, size, all caps and other font features.
  • Use a variety of graphics including word art, clip art, smart art images, screen shots (jpgs).
  • Include hyperlinks to web pages, media and email.
  • Include references to literature on portfolios.
  • Use an overall theme and demonstrate general principles of design including use of white space, balance of objects and have a “professional” look. 


Published in EDU 1302
Thursday, 13 September 2012 23:24

Portfolios FOR Learning

In a discussion of a study on the use of portfolios in secondary schools, Dr. Helen Barrett (2007) presents a table  which compares Portfolios used as assessment of learning and Portfolios that support assessment for learning.

In the first case, the portfolio is something to be assessed - an object or an artefact - a thing to look at. Some characteristics of this use of portfolios include:

>> Portfolio usually developed at the end of a class
>> Summative—what has been learned to date?
>> Requires extrinsic motivation
(Table 2, p. 444)

In the second, the portfolio is used to support assessment activities that are intended to guide students towards the learning outcomes as determined by the institution. Some characteristics of this use of portfolios include:

>> Portfolio maintained on an ongoing basis
>> Formative—what are the learning needs in the future?
>> Fosters intrinsic motivation—engages the learner
(Table 2, p. 444)

If your portfolio is reduced to another assessment task that you pass in and leave behind, then we might question, where is the learning? Clearly, there will be some. However, from a constructionist point of view, learning will be greatly enhanced if you can reflect on your own work to see what was good and what was still "in progress". Learning is also greatly enhanced if you can share pieces of your work with your colleagues, get their feedback experience 'cognitive dissonance'. When you realize that you have done something wrong, or could do something much betteryou have a more significant learning experience.

From a behaviourist point of view, your learning potential will be greatly enhanced if you put yourself in a position to reflect on your work and change your own approach to study - i.e. change your behaviour when you study. Thus, we are not only considering the actual subject, but how you approach that subject.

Barrett, H. (2007). Researching electronic portfolios and learner engagement: The REFLECT Initiative. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(6), 436-449. doi:10.1598/JAAL.50.6.2 -

Published in Articles 2012 - 2013
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