- Handouts and information will be forthcoming. Honestly, I want to put my syllabus and rubrics together sooner than later, so I will work on my own handouts for now and modify as needed.
- I asked about students grading one another. Samantha suggested peer groups. Peer groups would be assigned by me and they would meet weekly. Not sure if peer groups would shift over course of semester.
- Samantha suggests students' ePortfolio links should be linked to in BB. I agree completely.
- We also talked about password protection. Wordpress and Wix both offer password protection for free. We're not so sure about Weebly.
- We talked particulars about assignments- one suggestion was an exploration or response to a science essay (i.e. Asimov, Sagan, or perhaps a Nautilus essay?).
- Another suggestion was to have students reflect on why it's important to study astronomy. This question might be a good one for the first assignment.
- Having students look at astronomy in the news and reflect on how astronomy fits into their lives could be another assignment.
- Samantha emphasized students should have some choices.
- My thinking now is that I want a final project of their choosing- ideally a three-minute video. Samantha also suggested infogram (piktochart), cartoon, or essay.
- We also talked about reflections and the importance of going deeper, beyond "what I learned", to "did I enjoy it?", "what surprised me?" Salt Lake Community College has a information on reflection statements here, including a handout for faculty.
- Finally, this book looked good: "The Learning Portfolio" by Zubizarreta.
This afternoon I attended the first ePortfolio open lab. We discussed a lot, and I received many good ideas. In the interest of getting the information down before I forget it, I'm simply going to list what we talked about.
Right now I'm thinking four main ePortfolio assignments over the course of the semester. I'm also thinking that I'll have to check in with students more frequently- perhaps weekly- to make sure they are on track. I'd love for the assignments to build on one another. I'm also playing with the idea of some sort of presentation- teaching is knowing.
First Draft Assignment Ideas:
The DLwEp book provides an "ePortfolio Implentation Framework". The first is to define learning outcomes. Listed below are the Common Course Student Learning Outcomes for Introductory Astronomy. There are 16 outcomes. I don't think it's possible to assess all sixteen using ePortfolios (or at least, I'd rather not do that). There are laboratories, homeworks, and discussion assignments that cover many of the outcomes.
I've put in parenthesis next to each outcome how I think it should be assessed.
DLweP suggests completing the following "History of the Future" exercise (pg. 4) before beginning:
"Imagine that your ePortfolio project is completed and that it succeeded in all of its goals. You are to appear tomorrow at a press conference to explain what you have accomplished. Write a press release to distribute at this meeting, explaining in a few paragraphs what it is that you have accomplished, who is benefiting from ePortfolios, why they are important tools for documenting learning (what problem does there use solve and why did it need to be solved in the first place?), and what it was that you did that led to or caused this success."
Writing a press release feels a little too forced for me, but I can identify what the problem is, why it needs to be solved, and how (I think) ePortfolios are the solution.
(1) The problem / Why it needs to be solved
In my astronomy classes I've noticed that many students can complete traditional homework assignments, prepare for exams, and do well on exams, BUT a conversation with them will reveal that their understanding is shallow, or worse, a week after the test, the knowledge is gone. This is my problem-
Traditional assessments are often shallow and short-lived.
Students are finishing the semester without incorporating much of the subject matter. If our goal is to have students fulfill a course's learning outcomes, then we are failing. Our standard tools of assessment aren't measuring student learning.
(2) Why (I think) ePortfolios are the solution
ePortfolios can probe deeper and be more meaningful than any homework assignment or in-class test. ePortfolio assignments can be a resource students refer to throughout the semester (and perhaps even beyond).
(3) What "success" looks like
My feeling is a student knows something if they are able to explain it to someone else. A successful ePortfolio will have students presenting information in a cogent and engaging way to both me and their peers.
Successful learning means students have a deep understanding of the most important topics presented in astronomy. They are not only able to answer questions correctly, but they are able to make connections among material covered throughout the semester (i.e., how the topics from week one relate to topics in week ten.) They are able to make connections to material covered in astronomy, other subjects, and their own lives. By the end of the semester, they have perspective of the size and scale of the cosmos, as well as Earth's place, and humanity's place within it.
It's official - I'll be participating in the ePortfolio pilot project for Fall 2015. I am excited not just for the potential of ePortfolios to enhance student learning and engagement, but also because ePortfolios will allow me to get to know my students better (and I think more quickly too).
I know this project won't succeed without a plan, and my plan is to work through the implementation framework presented in Documenting Learning with ePortfolios* by Light, Chen, and Ittelson. (Many thanks to the always brilliant Michele Knight for introducing me to this book.)
I will post my trials and tribulations in this space. :)
*Since I'll be referring to this book often, I'll abbreviate the title as DLweP in future posts.