Thursday, August 23, 2012

E-Portfolio Resources for Unity College

What is an E-Portfolio?
Here is a definition established by the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (NLII, 2003):
An electronic portfolio is
  • a collection of authentic and diverse evidence, 
  • drawn from a larger archive representing what a person or organization has learned over time
  • on which the person or organization has reflected, and
  • designed for presentation to one or more audiences for a particular rhetorical purpose. 
(quoted from Barret and Wilkerson, "Conflicting Paradigms in Electronic Portfolio Approaches.")
Barbara Cambridge, also cited by Barrett and Wilkerson, (see Electronic Portfolios: Why Now?), notes that e-portfolios provide a means for deeper learning, which learning is marked by being developed over time, being self-directive, being reflective, integrating multiple skills, and being life-long.

The tension with e-portfolios is designing them to serve multiple purposes. Barrett and Wilkerson explore the tension between positivist approaches -- where learners primarily align artifacts to meet external measures (instructor rubrics, institutional outcomes) -- and constructivist approaches -- where learners, over time and through reflection about what they choose to put in their e-portfolio, give shape and meaning to their experience and their learning.

In addition to those approaches, e-portfolios often have multiple audiences: fellow classmates at moments of peer review and shared reflections; course instructors for course assessment; departments for curricular assessment or faculty development; institutions for outcomes and institutional accreditation and assessment; and people beyond the academy -- potential college supporters and donors, potential employers, graduate schools and more.

In short, an e-portfolio can be many things, and working with them can be a challenge to start because understanding the tensions and finding best practices takes time and experimentation. But e-portfolios increasingly essential.

Why E-Portfolios and Why Now?

Trent Batson, founder and director of AAEEBL discusses e-portfolios with Campus Technology Magazine  at

Key quote from Batson:
It's funny, portfolios have been used in the skills-based fields--writing, art, music, and so on--for many years, but they tended to be looked down upon in academia outside those disciplines. Now, with the focus on student-centered 21st century learning, everyone is talking about skills. Sure, you have a degree in history, but what did you do to achieve that? What can you do with those skills that you learned while earning that degree? 
The beauty of e-portfolios is that they can enable learning theories that have been developed through intense study over the past 30 years of how humans learn using cognitive science, traditional psychology, and anthropology. It's important that we're now switching to an approach that's appropriate for adult learning. At the base of this research is the idea that learning is based on experience. Until now, we have not allowed students to have much in the way of experience; instead, we expect them to listen to someone who has had experience.
Batson's discussion turns on the belief that over time e-portfolios will become as or more important measures of learning than traditional college transcripts. Because e-portfolios are centered also on artifacts -- actual examples of student work and accomplishment -- they serve not only as the basis for assessing learning but also as the basis of showcasing it. For students, who will be life-long learners, the e-portfolio offers potential graduate schools or future employers or possible clients or new and old friends or near and distant family better understanding of who that student is as a thinker and person. Well designed e-portfolios do not just assess, they celebrate and promote, learning.

But as Batson notes, using e-portfolios requires one to rethink teaching. That's what today's workshops will focus on:

How do e-portfolios change my teaching?

Here are further resources to help us explore that question.

Google Sites Examples of E-Portfolios

Hawai'i Tokai International College:  

Clemson University:
   How students select work for inclusion:

Resources from Around the Web

The Online Learning Record by Peg Syverson. Peg's work seeks richer insights into student learning than can be gotten from tests and most traditional uses of paper portfolios. See for example Peg's description of the five -- and a sixth she adds -- dimensions of learning:

Principles and Practices in Electronic Portfolios: A CCCC Position Statement
Published in 2007 by CCCC Taskforce on Best Practices in Electronic Portfolios, this statement outlines suggestions for best practices in e-portfolios in composition courses, but much can be gleaned for using e-portfolios in any course. The site/statement offers extensive links to institutions that offer good e-portfolio models as well as bibliography (with links as well).

LaGuardia Community College e-Portfolio:

ePortfolio Resources -- AAEEBL
The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidenced-Based Learning, founded by Trent Batson, an e-portfolio pioneer, offers links to international e-portfolio resources.

From Bedford/St. Martin's . . .
Teaching Central. This is from our catalog page. From here you can request for free an exam copy of any professional resource book or use any professional resource web site we provide. For example, we offer the  following titles on e-portfolios:
In addition to the above titles, there are books on teaching writing to students with disabilities, ESL, assessing writing and more.  Please add what you need to your personal professional resource library.

(First published on May 31, 2012, with updates on August 23)

Friday, June 29, 2012

CSU Fresno Plagiarism Workshop

Today we'll work through these questions. We'll also be drawing on resources at this site: Plagiarism 101 (

Let's start with a few questions. 

  1. What do you want to see in the writing your receive from the writers in your classes? Take a few minutes and write about what you really want to see.
  2. What are some of the challenges in getting writers able to write the kinds of writing you want to see? Take a few more minutes and write about that.

    With the first two questions as context, consider this:
  3. What is plagiarism and why do you sometimes see it in the writing received from the writers in your classrooms?

Ethics and writing and learning questions

  1. What does it mean to be ethical? 
  2. What happens when one is writing about things one is also learning? 

Writing assignment design, a few more questions.

  1. What are some of the purposes of assigning writing?
  2. What is a writing assignment? What are its parts? 
  3. What happens when you search for an assignment you use on the Web?


  1. How do you think about citation when you write?
  2. How do you talk about citation when you teach?
  3. What do students need to know about citation?

Handbook Content That Can Help -- A Writer's Reference 

Section A: Academic Writing
Section D: Writing in the Disciplines
CSU Fresno's Customized Section
Plagiarism, avoiding
 --in APA papers, 448 -51
 -- in CMS, 502-4
 -- drafting, C: 19
 -- integrating sources, 364-5
-- Internet sources  C: 54, 361, 363 -65
-- MLA, 376-79
--note taking, R: 359-65
-- reviewer comments, C: 27
-- working bibliography, R: 358-59, 60

Bedford/St. Martin's Resources You Can Use

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Links for BRAWN

These are a collection of links which may, or may not, prove useful for our discussion today. They're here so they're at hand.

NY Times on children's books on the iPad
Books in the Age of the iPad by Craig Mod:

College Students and Technology by Smith, Rainie, and Zickuhr from PEW Internet and American Life Project:
(Note the low levels, still, of e-book reader devices. See also:

However, e-reading is on the rise, says a recent PEW study:

Aside: NEA 2007 study on reading -- (scroll to page 8 to learn that "65% of college freshmen read for pleasure for less than an hour per week or not at all.")

Buy Print, Rent Print, or E-book, a student view -

Evolution of the E-book: When Is a Book Not a Book? By Mathew Ingram in Business Week at

Re:Writing Plus from Bedford/St. Martin's for IX peek:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Writing Pedagogy 2.0 @ UCI: Links, Links, Links

From the Web


Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing:

CCCC Statement on Teaching in Digital Settings:

Doug Hesse on Whether Computers Should Grade Writing:

NCTE - WPA White Paper on Writing Assessment:

The Online Learning Record by Peg Syverson:


Teaching with Technology from The Writing Studio @ CSU:

Teaching Writing w/ Technology from Montclair State's Center for Writing Excellence:

Teaching Writing Online by Scott Warnock: (sample chapter available)

Traci Gardner's Lists of Ten:

Using Technology for Education from CMU:

Sample: A Framework for Teaching with Twitter by Mark Sample:

A quick overview of online bibliography tools:

Web 2.0 Tools for Teaching Writing: It's not just in colleges -

Confessions of a Committed Technofile by Shelley Rodrigo

From Bedford/St. Martin's

Teaching with Technology:

Eli Peer Review:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Resources for Illinois Central College


Free Stuff for Teachers

Free Stuff From Bedford/St. Martin's


One site that gathers our best free resources, including samples of resources that require a code to access. There's lots here: videos, exercises, checklists, model documents, and more.

Your College Experience:
This companion site to John Gardner's textbook on being a successful college student offers free materials, including videos, on skills essential to doing well in writing and reading courses: time management, study habits, and more.

Research and Documentation Online:

Written by Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister, this site offers not just guidelines on how to create a works cited entry, and not only advice on how to integrate the citation, and not only annotated sample research papers, but also annotated links to recommended Web, database, and library resources for research.

The Bedford Bibliographer:

With advice and examples by Mike Palmquist, this online bibliographic tool helps students get the mechanics of citation done so they can spend more time on the rhetoric of source use. It doesn't do the work for the students, but does help them to do their work well.

Exercise Central:

For students who need a tune up addressing surface level issues when they get to the polishing/proofing stage of their writing, EC offers a collection of over 9,000 questions. It's a site that a lot of students find and use on their own; it's best used lightly in my view, with an emphasis on students applying what they practice in an exercise to their own writing. While EC lets instructors see student scores, the real thing to see is what changes appear in student writing. So when I teach, I don't bother with the gradebook.

 Stuff that Needs to be Unlocked with a Code

Re:Writing Plus:
The same site that offers links to our best free stuff, is also a gateway to some of our most useful premium stuff. The resources here, if used regularly -- say once a week -- are offered at great value and bring multimodal learning into the course. Video, games, tutorials, and more engage writers in way that go beyond the text.

CompClass or Writing Class: or
Built on Angel Learning's platform, the Classes take everything we have for a discipline and put it one place. We also layer in e-books, adaptive exercises, peer review tools, blogs, journals, discussion forums, an assignment center and more.

Coming Soon . . . and ready for Class Testing

The Bedford E-Portfolio:
For students, a tool to collect, select, and reflect in their courses, plus a second portfolio they can use however they want for sharing work beyond their courses -- to family, to prospective employers, to to transfer colleges, and more. For classroom instructors, tools for aligning student work to goals and outcomes and the ability to create rubrics for both formative feedback and summative evaluations; instructors can see what students are learning and how their teaching is going, allowing adjustments to happen more quickly and effectively. For programs, tools for faculty development, program assessment, and the compilation of both quantitative and qualitative data.

Eli Peer Review:
Invented by Bill Hart-Davidson, Jeff Grabill, and Mike McLeod of Michigan State's Center for Writing in Digital Environments. One class tester, Mike Edwards from West Point, wrote this about Eli on his teaching blog, "The ELI peer review software at gets by far the most love from our students. I'm a fan, and will say: if you're not using it, you should give it a try. It's really, really good for carefully focused early-stage substantive peer review."

Eli stems from research that shows the best indicator of student growth as a writer is the frequency of revision. Eli is designed to make students reliable and trusted reviewers so that writers can get more feedback than one teacher can ever give, and by getting more feedback, do more revision. Eli succeeds at this by providing tools for instructors to see how the writing is going, and reviewers and the instructor to see how useful review comments are, whether the comments will be used to guide revisions, and then when revisions are submitted, how the comments were used. And all at a glance.

For more on what's coming from Bedford/St. Martin's, and opportunities to review and class test, visit,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writing Center Ethics as a Habit of Mind

What does it mean to tutor ethically?

What are best writing center practices?

What degree of confidentiality should a tutor afford a writer? 

How much tutoring is too much tutoring?

 We'll discuss these and other questions about tutoring in light of a simple premise. We often face in our work times when we are extra busy, extra stressed, extra challenged. And often it is at times of high demand, stress, and challenge that ethics can slip. Coaching can fall into inadvertent editing of the student's work, or a writer struggling with a poorly designed assignment might lead the tutor to critique the professor who wrote the assignment, to name just two examples.

So the question is: how to we use good habits of mind and practice to help us stay ethical in hard circumstances, when ethics are perhaps most needed?

Some suggested readings for discussion and reflection:

Betty Hoskins, "Ethics and Empathy in the Writing Center," at . Hoskins talks about degrees of help, but also the ideal of not criticizing faculty for poor assignments or trying to find blame for weak writers.

"Are Writing Centers Ethical" by at by Irene Clark and Dave Healy focuses mostly on the fear that tutors will cross a line and do the work of the student.

The Weatherford College Writing Center's code of ethics