Monthly Archives: October 2009

Supplementary Activity 4.2- capturing handwritten notes & audio

Originally posted in wiki

Notes and informal reflections written by hand

There are a few devices which capture hand written material digitally.  These include Digital Notepads in which you clip a normal writing pad onto a special clip board. You can then link the clip board to a computer and download everything that was written on the paper.

For a how to guide please follow the following link to see a video I created last year

Alternatively you could take a photo of any handwritten notes, many mobile phone cameras have a document setting which is useful for this.  The photo could then be added to your eportfolio

Extracts from audio presentations

  • ipadio (notes by Kev Hickey)

iPadio is a useful site for creating an publishing podcasts from your mobile phone.  Here is a quick how to guide

How to create a podcast using a mobile phone and ipadio

1.       Create an account at

2.       Specify which phone number you will be calling from.

3.       Make a note of the ipadio phone number and pin number.

4.       Call ipadio and enter your pin

5.       Record your podcast and hang up

6.       Log in to ipadio to find your recording available as;

A downloadable mp3 file

An embeddable audio player

A permalink where others can download the file

An RSS feed which is updated everytime you record a new podcast.

An automaticly transcribed peice of text (although this will probely need to be reviewed, edited and corrected)

Core activity 4.1: Multimedia as evidence

I have decided to use ipadio to record an audio message.  Once you create an account at ipadio account you can phone the number and record your message.  once you hang up the message will automaticly be avalavle on the ipadio website as an mp3 file.

So far I have been using Google docs as my eportfolio system, however this activity really highlights its limitations as it can only cope with the following formats;

Documents (up to 500 KB of text)

  • HTML files and plain text (.txt).
  • Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), Rich Text (.rtf), OpenDocument Text (.odt) and StarOffice (.sxw).

Presentations (up to 10 MB)

  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pps).

Spreadsheets (up to 1 MB)

  • Comma Separated Value (.csv).
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx) files and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods).

PDF Files (up to 10MB)

Evidence which is on another website, such as contributions to online forums, blogs or wikis, could be copy and pasted into a google doc as text, a screen shot or a hyperlink.

One system I use allot is Evernote.  I hadn’t mentioned it before as I hadn’t thought of it as an eportfolio, but this activity has made me change my mind.

This is a powerful tool system which is difficult to explain but i’ll have ago.  Using a plug in on your browser you can clip a web page or part of a web page to your evernote account.  Using a downloadable evernote application you can add files including documents, pdfs, images and sound files  You can also type notes directly into the system.

Core Activity 3.1 eportfolio table

For this activity I have created a table of eportfolio systems and their features.

The systems I have chosen are;

  • eNVQ
  • PaperFree
  • Mahara
  • MyStuff
  • Pebblepad
  • Learning Assistant
  • NVQ Now
  • One File
  • SkilSure
  • Skill Wise
  • Myspace

The features I have chosen to list and compare are;

  • Website
  • Primary Purpose; Reflective, Assessment or Presentation
  • Cost
  • Endorsed by awarding body
  • Life Long
  • Offline Mode
  • Hosted by..
  • Multiple levels of access
  • Accessable on mobile devices
  • Support avalable
  • Case Study/Further Information

The majority of the systems I have chosen are assessment systems for specific qualifications such as NVQ.  This is because there seem to be a large number of these systems available and they are often overlooked when discussing eportfolios.

The features I have chosen are based on my experiences of what learning providers want to know when choosing a system. I have done my best to get as much information as I could from the websites, but I can’t guarantee that the table is completely correct.  Please let me know if you spot any errors.

The table is too big for this blog so if you are interested please use the following link

Supplementary activity 3.3: Understanding open source

In his report Weller mentions the Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) and ELGG, which is another open source system which can be used as an eportfolio. On the face of it, open source may often seem like an ideal solution from a cost perspective alone, as open source is generally free to use while commercial systems can be quite expensive.  This is not just for eportfolio systems but for other open source systems such as the Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle.  It is often the case that despite a lack of initial cost, open source solutions may be just as expensive, if not more so, than commercial systems, as they require a significant amount of time and expertise to adapt them to the needs of the learning provider.  Having said that, an advantage of open source is its ability to be modified by the learning provider, As Weller said of the OSPI solution “ being open source, we can adapt it – but this would need a serious technical evaluation to determine.”

Another issue to consider with open source solutions is support.  Commercial systems may provide a centralised support team with a clearly defined Service Level Agreement (SLA).  This means that they will guarantee support issues to be dealt with within a certain timeframe.  Open source solutions often rely on a community based support structure, with member s of the community offering support and advice to others.  Weller emphasises the community aspects of the open source system ELGG for learners using the system.  This follows on from the community ethos of open source systems.

Core activity 3.2: Recommending an eportfolio system

For this activity we are asked to provide advice to a learning provider in their choice of eportfolio system.  This is a situation I have been in many times in my role as an elearning advisor.  The following advice is based on discussions between my colleagues and me about the different types of eportfolio system available as well as on research and the experiences of others.  The scenario I will choose is a large Further Education Colleges who is looking to get an eportfolio system to be used with assessors on Btec and NVQ courses, for art students to have an electronic version of their traditional portfolio and to be used throughout the college as a way of planning future progression.

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Core activity 2.5: Criteria for reflective writing

The four steps for reflective writing listed by Penn State university are a useful starting point.  Particularly What happened? What might this mean? and What implications are there for future practice?  In the forum Janet Moreland posted some guidelines taken from  Allan, H. J. (2008) ‘Assessment tool for reflective practice’, for the Royal College of Surgeons (unpublished) (updated 2009).  These include points such as ‘Links made between theory and practical application are thorough and well supported from both curriculum and literature’ and ‘Assumptions of others and of self are examined and discussed in relation to future development’.  It is difficult to specify generalised criteria to be assessed for reflective writing as assessment criteria are specific to the course rather that the style of assessment used. However I do think it is possible to provide guidelines help people develop their reflective learning skills.  The following guidelines are based on my own experience of reflective writing for assessment;

  • Have clear questions to answer in your writing
  • Question any assumptions made
  • Include both sides of any argument, and specify which side you agree with, even if that means saying you are not sure.
  • Clearly identify links between what you are reflecting on and other resources from the curriculum, any resources outside the curriculum and the experiences of yourself or others
  • Don’t be afraid to combine the ideas and theories of others to come up with something new.
  • Don’t be afraid to constructively criticise theories proposed throughout the curriculum, but make sure these criticisms are backed up with evidence.
  • Plan you writing so all the points are in a logical order.

Core activity 2.4: Reflection and learning

For this activity I read ‘PDP working paper 4: reflection in higher education learning’ & ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ by Moon and ‘Should student learning journals be assessed?’ by Crème

While reflecting on reflection I have asked myself the question ‘Is reflection an individual or shared activity?’.  This is not really covered in these papers, but i think might be generally assumed that reflection is an internal, individual process.  For me this is not really the case as I reflect better when telling and discussing with someone my experience or what I have learned.  This is why I feel a blog is such a good tool for reflection as it provides individuals with the opportunity to reflect and alow for comments and contributions from others.  When I completed my PGCE I had to keep a log of 30 hours of teaching experiences.  This was only seen by myself and my tutor, which I felt was a real waste as I wanted to follow and reflect on the experiences of others on my course, and for them to reflect on my experiences.  Anyway this is all a tangent and not answering the questions I am supposed to answer for this activity.

Crème discussed the thorny issue of assessing reflections highlighting questions such as;

–          “How can anyone asses whats in my head?”

–          Why should anyone be made to reflect if they are not being assessed on it

–          How can assesors be expected to keep up with a potential avalanche of reflections

–          How do you assess a reflection in which the learner admits that they don’t understand something?

–          Will learners write what they think the tutor what’s them to write rather than an honest reflection? How much does this matter?

–          If reflection is not assessed does this mean it is not recognised and valued by the learning provider?

On the H808 we are encouraged to reflect thoughout the course through blogs and eportfolio postings.  These are not assessed individually, however we are encouraged to refer to them in a reflective commentry in which we write an account of personal and professional development throughout the course.   This reflective commentary can be seen as a way of answering some of the questions above.  Although it does not asses what’s “in my head” while writing the individual reflections, and does not require the tutor to give full feedback on everything that I write, it does require evidence of how my reflections and ideas have developed.

I suppose  the reflective commentary could be seen as reflecting on the reflections, which for this particular course would  mean reflecting on the reflections about reflection.  I think I had better stop there before i give myself a headache.