1/27/11. San Francisco 2/2/11. Chicago 2/3/11. Chicago
Hatching Plans for Portfolio Learning
I always love attending AACU. I always learn something new and take ideas back to my institution to hatch. Last year, my colleague GianMario Besana and I attended the E-Portfolio Pre-Conference Workshop to get ideas for launching an e-portfolio at DePaul. Melissa's lunch-time address on how e-portflolios and, in particular, generative knowledge interviewing, could be used to help students articulate and record tacit knowledge, "life-long and life-wide," struck a chord. So I introduced myself and.....here I am as part of this collaborative.
I started writing this reflection on the plane from San Francisco home to Chicago, and am finishing it on the second of two snow days (the first since 1999!) off from school. So I've included iPhone photos of the environs -- a walk at Ocean Beach in San Francisco before the conference, the scene out my third-floor window during the blizzard, and today's sunny clean-up. This series makes me think about the process of bringing an idea to fruition -- starts serene with blue skies (when it's just an idea), raises havoc for while, and then with hard work, new pathways start to form. A little cheesy, perhaps, but -- hey -- I'm new at this.
Why Am I Here? Goals for the Day.
I joined this collaborative so that I could bring resources and ideas to the e-portfolio community that is now forming at DePaul. Our School of Education has now been at this for a year, but in the fall, First-Year Writing and the Writing Center began a pilot, and our School for New Learning started this winter. In November Melissa and Laura conducted a GKI workshop for 25 faculty and staff from those groups, Student Affairs, and our tech support staff, and we all were excited. We're on our way. And I need to bring back ideas to help everyone move forward.
What captured my attention?
Sitting in our Collaborative meeting, I listened for ideas and practices I could take home that would make sense for our large institution where "coordinated de-centralization" has become our motto. Now almost a week later, what stays with me are the faculty learning communities that Nancy described at Mercy College, AT's use of GKI to get at students' thoughts before and after study abroad at University of Michigan, Gail's students who respond to their peers' portfolios, and Laura's and Tiffany's use of GKI to help students begin the process -- which will evolve over years -- of developing a philosophy of what it means to be a teacher. I'm curious to see how my own institution will make use of GKI and e-portfolios generally -- where will this all click, where not, what will it mean for different programs?
During the rest of the conference, what's been most interesting and inspiring to see is how happy and excited people are to be talking to each other about this work. In particular, it seems to me that the work on using e-portfolios as a site for recording both learning and reflections on learning has changed the discussion about assessment. This is how the best of higher education is responding to the call from Margaret Spellings et all for more concrete evidence to demonstrate that students are learning. Spelling et al can keep their standardized tests. We will demonstrate that students are learning authentically through analysis of their real work. And based on thoughtful analysis of that work, we learn how to help students learn more. E-portfolios, done well, provide an opportunity for all our students, no matter what their major and no matter how many institutions they attend, to draw connections among the rich array of their experiences and articulate what their learning means to them.
What Will I Do Now?
Based on what I have learned over the past few days, I will bring groups together and work to see versions of this process spread in multiple arenas of my institution -- key points in general education, individual programs, student affairs. And I will begin my own practice. This coming spring, I will be teaching a graduate course on Issues in Higher Education Administration and will assign an e-portfolio for the first time myself and incorporate Generative Knowledge Intervieweing into the course. As a baby-boomer, I find this whole movement unsettling in the best possible way. I may be still in the blue-skies phase of thinking about all this and certainly anticipate some storms ahead, but it sure will be fun finding our way.