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Teachers Teaching Teachers #198 - David Niguidula and Bill Fitzgerald Give New Life to Digital Portfolios - 04.28.10

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  • Length: 70:09 minutes (16.05 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 32Kbps (CBR)

We asked two of our favorite software developers/consultants/activists/dreamers, Bill Fitzgerald and David Niguidula to talk to us about digital portfolios on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers.


Bill Fitzgerald and FunnyMonkey

At an Educon 2.1 session in January, Bill Fitzgerald showed us a Durpal-based digital portfolio system that he and his colleagues at FunnyMonkey had been developing. As always with Bill, it was more than a software demonstration. With this project, he is leading us in a process of “Rethinking Portfolios.”

The promise of the portfolio is that the demonstration of learning remains as close as possible to the process of learning, while allowing individual elements of the learning process to be highlighted and discussed as part of evaluation. This type of assessment creates a nuanced picture of how a person is developing as a learner.

Portfolios have been around for a while, yet they are still largely viewed as an “alternative” means of assessment. What are some of the barriers for adoption that exist? What are the arguments against using portfolios?

When used effectively as part of ongoing professional development:]

  • A teaching portfolio shows what and how a teacher is teaching;
  • In conjunction with a student portfolio, organic ties can be made between student learning and the role of the teach
  • The process of creating a teacher portfolio accomplishes (at least) two things
  1. it transforms curriculum development from an individual endeavor into a community endeavor; and
  2. after maintaining a teacher portfolio for one year, a teacher will have created a fully portable outline of their entire course, which has the potential to eliminate the need for a textbook.

We were happy the opportunity in this podcst to learn more about FunnyMonkey’s Digital Portfolio project.

David Niguidula and Richer Picture


Fifteen years ago, Paul Allison and Shantanu Saha were working at University Heights Secondary School in the Bronx when we had the opportunity to begin building a digital portfolio for our school. David Niguidula was the leader of this project with the Coalition of Essential Schools. That project was a life changer for both Paul and Shantanu. It was the experience with technology that would put each of us on our own journeys into educational technology that continue today. Occasionally our paths meet up. Both Shantanu’s and Paul’s students work on Youth Voices, a Drupal site developed by Bill Fitzgerald.

We were excited to have this opportunity to catch up with David Niguidula! This is how his site describes their work:

Richer Picture® products and services help schools use technology to personalize teaching and learning. Our digital portfolios provide a new way for your students to show that they are meeting standards — while celebrating who they are as individual learners.

We have the most extensive experience in developing and implementing electronic portfolios in K-12 schools. In the 1990’s, Ideas Consulting Founder David Niguidula led the first research project on digital portfolios while at the Coalition of Essential Schools. Since then, we have accumulated over a dozen years of experience working in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country and around the world.

We provide both technology tools and the professional development to help you use them effectively. Our software is customized for your school and is designed to fit your needs. Our professional development goes far beyond learning how to use the tools; we help your staff address the essential questions of assessment and school change.

These tandem descriptions made us wonder if these two guys had ever met before. Well, they didl meet, on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers. Enjoy!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

20:59:01 SusanEttenheim: hi everyone - you should be hearing us now!
20:59:07 billfitzgerald: Hello, folks!
20:59:25 Rurik: I'll reload
20:59:36 SusanEttenheim: hi hugghinss
20:59:38 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
20:59:44 SusanEttenheim: hi ruik welcoem!
20:59:48 SusanEttenheim: welcome
21:00:05 SusanEttenheim: can you hear us?
21:00:07 SusanEttenheim: edtechtalk a
21:00:21 Rurik: Cool.
21:00:41 SusanEttenheim: can you hear us?
21:01:17 SusanEttenheim: rurik - hugghinss can you hear us?
21:02:19 SusanEttenheim: hi all - are you there?
21:02:24 SusanEttenheim: hi brianb welcome!
21:02:26 Rurik: I can hear.
21:02:30 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:02:36 SusanEttenheim: oh great - thanks rurik!
21:02:50 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach? please introduce yourself!
21:04:09 BrianB: hi - tech coordinator from Melissa, TX, former classroom teacher, 7-12 science
21:04:20 Rurik: Rurik-Rory (Depending) Grad Student - science/lang arts and community college instructor (Sign Lang/Social Media)
21:05:28 Paul Allison: http://paulallison.tumblr.com/post/554242371/digital-portfolios-on-teach...
21:05:33 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
21:05:57 SusanEttenheim: please feel free to ask questions of our guests and share your own stories!
21:06:10 SusanEttenheim: where rurik?
21:06:26 Rurik: Here to get ideas for developing my portfolio and how to encourage student portfolios.
21:06:33 Rurik: I am in Oregon.
21:06:48 SusanEttenheim: ahh great!
21:07:23 SusanEttenheim: brian - you can hear ok?
21:08:03 billfitzgerald: Rurik - where in Oregon?
21:08:10 Rurik: Actually tomorrow is the last day of my assessments course and I felt a bit betrayed by the level and depth of instruction. I decided I needed to run out here to get more stuff.
21:08:15 billfitzgerald: I'm in Portland.
21:08:17 BrianB: yeah, had to turn it up a bit, using a new macbook and I had not used itunes on it yet
21:08:32 Rurik: Currently Ashland - I want to move up to the Portland - Possibly Astoria area.
21:09:09 Rurik: I should have moved when I started grad school - taking classes through Concordia University out of Portland.
21:09:10 SusanEttenheim: brian feel free to pipe up and join in! Let us know what you want to know!
21:09:13 BrianB: I am about to show Mahara to our principals as a possible method of creating digital portfolios....saw this on twitter tonight and had to jump in here :)
21:09:27 SusanEttenheim: great! - welcome!
21:10:32 SusanEttenheim: in Oregon and in Texas ... any such graduation requirements for your students? certainly not at mine in nyc!
21:11:35 Rurik: Things are in flux. They always are.
21:11:41 BrianB: we don't have any grad requirements, but our school is slowly moving portfolio assessment up the grade levels starting from the elementary school, we are at 6-7 grade now
21:12:04 BrianB: we are not using digital portfolios yet though
21:12:23 SusanEttenheim: how interesting brian!
21:13:49 Rurik: We have a requirement for a "career path" portfolio and some school districts are combining that with the work sample achievement standards in writing, speaking, research, etc.
21:16:26 BrianB: does anyone have some research-based articles on portfolio assessment?
21:16:59 SusanEttenheim: umm I was just reading one in a recent iste magazine!
21:17:02 SusanEttenheim: very interesting
21:17:31 Rurik: I know of one from Vermont? I think?
21:18:20 SusanEttenheim: hi random welcome!
21:18:25 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:19:11 BrianB: worksheets don't allow students to create :(
21:19:42 Rurik: @Brian If you have access to Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice check out their Oct 25 2005 Volume 13 Issue 3 - pages 5-16.
21:19:47 SusanEttenheim: ha - imagine a digital portfolio of worksheets
21:19:57 SusanEttenheim: thanks rurik!
21:20:19 SusanEttenheim: what is the gist of it rurik?
21:20:30 dniguidula: some research pieces from our work: http://www.richerpicture.com/about_resources.php
21:21:01 Rurik: Vermont program and whether it was effective. What conflicts they had and they brought up need to have caution and moderate expectations at first.
21:21:04 BrianB: awesome, thanks Rurik...I can get it (my wife is a professor - she can get anything!)
21:21:12 Rurik: I had a more positive article somewhere.
21:21:28 Rurik: But that magazine had a few good articles more recently.
21:21:55 Rurik: I just used that one as a reference recently so I could find the info fast.
21:22:17 Paul Allison: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109008/chapters/Digital_Portfolio...
21:23:29 Rurik: Paul - your link doesn't like me :)
21:24:48 Paul Allison: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109008/chapters/Digital_Portfolio...
21:25:19 Rurik: gracias
21:33:04 SusanEttenheim: hi fred! welcome!
21:33:15 Fred Haas: Hi, Susan. Thanks
21:37:51 Rurik: Need to take off but I was glad I could hear some other thoughts.
21:46:51 Fred Haas: Is there a link to an example portfolio that has been created we can see?
21:48:57 billfitzgerald: An overview of some of what we're talking about is at http://educon20.com
21:49:20 Fred Haas: Thanks, Bill
21:50:51 BrianB: has anyone used Mahara?
21:54:48 dniguidula: we have some older ones at http://www.richerpicture.com/samples . If folks want, we can get you a login to see the more recent version. Write me at david@ideasconsulting.com and I can get you that information later.
21:57:48 SusanEttenheim: hi mssigman welcome!
21:58:00 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:58:41 MsSigman: Hello Susan, I teach middle school science in Phoenix Arizona :)
21:58:54 MsSigman: Where and what do you teach?
21:58:58 SusanEttenheim: welcome! are you wondering about digital portfolios? are you using them?
21:59:11 SusanEttenheim: I'm in high school - teaching elective classes in NYC
21:59:13 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
21:59:17 Paul Allison: http://www.ideasconsulting.com/
21:59:26 Paul Allison: http://www.funnymonkey.com/
22:00:09 MsSigman: I would like to use them.  We are currently training for 1 to 1 computers in the classroom next year.
22:00:25 SusanEttenheim: wow that's exciting!
22:00:49 MsSigman: I want to use them for science journals to help students collaborate and keep a record of ideas :)
22:00:58 MsSigman: Yes I am very excited.
22:01:05 SusanEttenheim: can you hear ok? our guests?
22:02:12 MsSigman: Can't hear at all. Did I miss something?
22:02:34 SusanEttenheim: ahh there's great audio! edtechtalk a
22:02:40 SusanEttenheim: click on the volume icon
22:02:44 SusanEttenheim: edtech talk a
22:04:18 SusanEttenheim: ms sigman do you see where to listen?
22:05:19 Ms Sigman: I clicked on the Windows media icon under EdTechTalk A but it is still loading in a different frame.
22:05:20 BrianB: I am going to have to bow out...thanks for the ideas and articles...now to plan that presentation to the principals :o
22:05:31 SusanEttenheim: great come again!
22:05:45 SusanEttenheim: humm that's the right thing to do
22:05:56 SusanEttenheim: you should hear audio too
22:11:36 SusanEttenheim: thanks everyone - goodnight!