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Kingsborough a Finalist with Distinction: 2013 Aspen Prize For Community Colleges

Kingsborough Community College just received a “Finalist with Distinction” at the Live Broadcast of the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

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AAEEBL Conference SlideShows

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“Questions about the Texts of Our Students’ Lives”

Presentation by Kathleen Blake Yancey

We have perhaps Trent Batson – or serendipity – to thank for this bookend from Kathleen Blake Yancey, Florida State University, whose presentation returned tangentially to Darren Cambridge’s opening theme.  My guess is that it’s Trent and by no accident this session opened with a hearty applause for his work in putting the AAEEBL conference together.   Kathleen’s session offered some real resolutions to the aggregative-integrative/individualist-collectivist tensions raised in Darren’s opening bookend, alongside new lines of inquiry at the interface of ePortfolios, cognitive-cultural change and communication as narrative self-presentation.

Kathleen draws from a wealth of experience in working with students – she kicked off with an aside on how much she enjoys spending time with students and their work.  So I liked her right away and knew I wanted to get and keep one of those mid-center mid-row seats.  As an English professor, this experience with students has been embedded in an experience with the paper portfolio.  What do we learn from paper portfolios, she asked?  These are the raw materials through which we connect assessment with learning.  And, in the next breath she became sociological:  if a portfolio is a text, the context is the framework from which it emerges.

Portfolios are embedded in four important contexts:  college assessment, a discipline, the vernacular, and the interface.  These four contexts provided the spine for her remarks on ePortfolios in the 21st century.  And these nodes represent a change from the earlier work.  At the beginning of the ePortfolio movement, she noted, the mantra was: Collect, Select, Reflect – Process, Connection, Assessment.  Process was an outcome that precipitated making connections and assessment.

In the 21st century the conversation we are in a different place, partly as a result of experience and research on teaching and learning – how people think and learn – and partly as a trickle-down diffusion of 20th century epistemology.  Either way, the vanguard scholarship of teaching and learning is now focused on communities of practice, media, interactivity, reiteration, identity, spaces and layers.

Two sets of activities have emerged as keys in the newer dialogue: archive and curate//aggregate and search.   Are we in Darren’s aggregate-individualist cell here, with more elaborate bolstering of consciousness of as aggregated curio integrated through reflection?

On the practical level, if ePortfolio pioneers envisioned portfolios as isolated texts in multiple contexts, portfolios as new sites for school work, portfolios-in-use for program assessment (program evaluation) with real word samples, and portfolios as repositories of reflections, today SoTL researchers are zeroing in on Portfolio+ Text + Context.  The question becomes which context and how the context impacts the text – this is a core sociology of knowledge problem.

Kathleen underscored through repetition the four nodes axial to this discourse — the spine — and then provided details on each – save the interface:

  • Outcomes
  • Disciplinary Knowledge
  • Vernacular
  • Interface

Outcomes:

These are embedded in a network of associations.   And the audience has changed.  Using a quote from Clay Shirky (also the author of Here Comes Everybody), Kathleen found a great quote articulating his shift as a student at Yale from writing for the professor to writing to elicit conversation.

Disciplinary Contexts

This was perhaps the most engaging and forward thinking part of the presentation, as Kathleen “stumbled upon” with pedagogical examples the most vexing and unresolved problems in 20th century epistemology:  the Platonic “categories” are dead.  Post-analytic Jacques Lacan writes about the question we learn to avoid on the school bench…  What is a text, where did it come from and who is its author?  As the physicist knows, what we know and perceive depends upon language within a disciplinary frame and our level of access to its refined technologies.  Academics and professionals think through a discipline.  Kathleen’s phrase was “using tacit practice as a platform for expertise.”  What are the component parts of a performance? Can these be uncovered through reflection? At the end, during the brief question and answer session she returned to these ideas, referring to “discipline-specific thought patterns.”  Worth probing here – at the level of the classroom – are questions regarding integrative learning, English writing and relationships between discipline-specific language and styles that require the speaker-hearer/reader-writer to step back and write as the “objective reporter/analyst.”

Kathleen’s next example came from Medical Education at Leeds:

A reflective account of any activity is in two parts – description and reflection.  The writer first describes a situation, which often includes how he or she felt in the context.  Therefore the writer must discuss the situation critically considering other interpretations of what was happening at the time, her thoughts on other actions she might have taken and the relationship to any reading or knowledge base that may be available.  Kathleen noted that this kind of reflection and the implementation of portfolios will require a shift in the culture of medicine.

Reflective practice requires a different mind-set from a standard scientific approach.  The reflective process is open and fractal with multiple specific outcomes that are closed and compartmentalized.  Thus, the successful implementation and use of ePortfolios in the Leeds School of Medicine, as an exemplar, will require the establishment and careful nurturing of a culture that supports and values the portfolio as an integral part of the educational experience.   The use of electronic portfolios for formative and summative assessments and as a learning tool will require educators to make adjustments, Kathleen argue.  These cannot be simply overlaid on the curriculum.

Vernacular Context

The vernacular context has so many possibilities and the hour was coming to an end.  Kathleen described a student whose “composing process” involves watching The Price is Right, playing online Scrabble, and coming up with an idea just in the nick of time.  She asks, “How does that describe composing at all?”

The Web Portfolio is multifaceted map of undergraduate studies.  Students combine and recombine what they learn.  The portfolio as a text is situated in and emerges from diverse contexts, some planned, some not.  Each planned context raises a set of questions impacting other planned contexts.  The vernacular as lived experience is incorporated even when it’s not invited.

We were out of time before we knew it.  Makes you want to read her work….

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“Fostering Integrative Learning in a Senior Capstone Seminar”

Presentation by Susan Kahn and Karen Johnson

After Joe’s session, I walked to the opposite side of the Plaza level to hear nationally recognized ePortfolio professionals Susan Kahn and Karen Johnson from IUPUI, who are on the opposite end of the spectrum from Joe and Macaulay.  I would have just as gladly made a trip halfway across the country – one size does not fit all and these two bank on years of experience with rubrics and ePortfolios.  It’s not so much that the creative students can just take care of themselves.  But, as my colleague Rebecca Mlynarczyk often notes:  We can’t teach the students we wish we had; we have to teach the students we have.  Whether they come straight from the farm, a small town in Indiana, or from an immigrant neighborhood in NYC, first generation college students provide us with the most numerous and most challenging teaching and learning problems.

People do not walk on the grass at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis – pronounced oo-wee poo-wee).  This gorgeous downtown campus with 20+ schools serves 30,000+ students who are first generation college students.  Most students are professionally oriented, living in a “red state” – and one with low levels of educational attainment.  Part of the orientation to city life in Indianapolis means learning to live with others and to respect public and personal property.  Susan and Karen provide genuine assistance and expertise in this context, helping students adapt and adjust to the realities in what is perhaps best identified as Type I on Darren’s four-fold cell structure.

Susan and Karen represent the IUPUI English Department, with six tracks in the major.  The Senior Capstone, E450, serves all six tracks.  Desired outcomes for students include integrative learning and the articulation of this learning in terms that are meaningful to employers and other audiences.  The capstone seminar has two components:  Career/professional development and English in the world.  And, it prescribes two major tools:  the matrix and the web-folio.  The two components require students to take different views of course themes from the four-year experience.

In the Career component, students create a resume and a career reflection.  The latter consists of a reflection essay and samples of past work – the samples provide a focus for the reflection.  For the English in the World component, students create a reflection essay using samples of past work – the focus of the reflection essay – plus their senior project and an annotated bibliography.

I found their comments on “Preparing for Reflection” to be the most useful in the session.  This is a problem thematic that has recurred throughout the Making Connections seminar over the past three years at LaGuardia. What is a reflection?  Why reflect?  English at IUPUI uses a rubric to help students in the development of reflective thinking:  the ability to self-assess, awareness of how one learns (meta-cognition), and the development of lifelong learning skills.  The tools are somewhat familiar to everyone engaged in teaching first-generation college students in the paper world:  evaluating and responding to sample reflections, written and oral peer reviews of rough drafts and then, a final reflection that can be shared.  A key outcome of reflection is matrix thinking – becoming aware of the competencies and where one is in the matrix.  The web-folio intends to take students beyond matrix thinking.  It provides both students and site visitors with individualized, engaging, and visually exciting representations of student achievements.

Susan and Karen are authentic educators – they provided in this session real insight into their pedagogical innovations and struggles, fully cognizant of the inherent problems and challenges:  balancing the needs of stronger and weaker students, especially in terms of instructions and prompts; modifying concepts appropriate for traditional students so that non-traditional students see the value of their non-academic experience; and maintaining first-generation students’ pride in their educational accomplishments while helping them form realistic expectations for employment.  Practical suggestions in the presentation included having students begin the web site construction in the first two weeks; writing short reflections on individual artifacts before writing the final component; helping students understand the realities of the job market; providing support as students face confusion and fear; and increasing coherence through disciplinary learning.

E450, as Susan and Karen so openly acknowledge, is a work in progress.   Their work with students may sound much more pedantic (yawn) and far less sexy than Macaulay’s student guide on the side.  Yet, in my opinion, it’s reassuring to know that if an IUPUI graduate decides to get on a bus to NYC, chances are that when arriving at Penn Station, he or she will know:  which subway to take, the address of their local destination, what KSA will be required for the job to which they will be reporting; what to wear; and how to get there thirty minutes early.  This will be coupled with that old-fashioned Hoosier commitment to a work ethic – plus the memories of these two faculty members who cared enough to about them to teach them what they need to know to succeed in the new economy in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.  And, after all, the last two NYC mayors have been “reds.” The IUPUI student should arrive in the city that never sleeps with a high enough skill level to join or defect from the economic mainstream – perhaps even competing successfully with Macaulay alums in the “creative class” in cool neighborhoods.

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“Open Source and Open Directions: The Macaulay Honors College ePortfolios”

Presentation by Joseph Ugoretz

Three sessions today, taken together, provided at least a moment of clarity on the various tensions inherent in the ePortfolio process and most especially mapping onto this process the eternal dilemma of “student-centered” versus “standards centered” orientations.  The first was by CUNY Online Baccalaureate colleague Joe Ugoretz, who provides maximum flexibility to  CUNY Honors students.  My favorite slide was one in which he shows a campus with folks literally creating paths in the landscape, a “controlling metaphor” for ePortfolios at Macaulay and their commitment to seeing where the students are going and then building digital structures – creating paths – that help them.  Joe views the ePortfolio less as a filing cabinet and more as a curio – not just a compilation of assignments, but something the student creates.  The student, in this model, is the “guide on the side.”

Another slide with the world’s largest Swiss Army knife reminded me of the old adage in medicine:  If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Joe uses the impractical giant army knife as a metaphor for the need to provide creative students with lots of different tools that can be used in lots of different ways.  That’s the rationale behind their choice of WordPress – a rationale that may work better in the context of a Macaulay than a community college populated mostly by developmental students.  Nonetheless, I emerged from the session convinced that the expressive potential of the most creative and advanced students need not be – and probably shouldn’t be – constrained by structures designed to help less advanced students navigate through a basic skills matrix.

Joe’s vernacular speech is vivid and memorable. WordPress is free and open source:  free like free speech, not like free beer – free like a free puppy, not like free beer.  You have to take care of it, but this care takes place within the context of a creative WordPress Multi-User community with lots of able and willing volunteers for plug-ins.  There are now 10,000 such developers.

Examples ranged from student’s “active museums” to experiments with course sites, such as “Where Students Hold the Government Accountable for the Environment.”  The professor (maybe Joe will comment and fill in the name) for the site now runs it much like the CUNY Virtual Enterprise, where students take over a virtual company, with the work of the last cohort intact.  This sounds like real life, right after an election…  But I emerged from the session feeling much like a pianist who at last sees on the horizon a chance to play some jazz – maybe even a little rock ‘n roll – after years of struggle mastering technique through the thousands of Bach exercises that everyone who has ever played the piano has heard played badly a zillion times.

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“Is There a Portfolio in This Community? Tensions in the Use of ePortfolios for Employability Beyond the Academy”

Presentation by Darren Cambridge

Darren Cambridge delivered a wallop of lofty sociological theorizing on Western understandings of self and community integrated with practical applications via specific cases of ePortfolio implementation.  His own portfolio work centers on the Arkansas Community Portfolio Project, which was introduced as one of four possible configurations in a typology derived from a four-fold table with two types of tensions:

INDIVIDUALIST ———————— COLLECTIVIST

AGGREGATIVE   ———————— INTEGRATIVE

I gave this five stars because it’s right where I am in terms of thinking about ePortfolios and right where I perceive the CUNY Online to be re the development of the virtual campus.  Just as George says we are “building and flying” at the same time, Darren addresses the color of the parachute.  So this was less about “When are we going to get there?” and more about “Where are we going and why do we want to be there?”

On the lofty plane Darren positioned the ePortfolio (and earlier print portfolio from which it evolved) as a manifestation of cultural capital, a single-authored artifact which draws together in an aggregative or integrative style the narrative of one individual. However, more collectivist ePortfolio versions have emerged via global diffusion into geographic areas and cultural contexts with higher emphasis on collectives and groups rather than individuals.  Darren understands the aggregative and integrative poles as defining the endpoints of tension concerning how relationships between multiple pieces of evidence are organized.  He understands the individualist contra collectivist tensions within the framework of traditional and contemporary sociological theorizing.

Darren then focused on the question of looking at the portfolio as a collective rather than an individual enterprise with employability as the integration of these two tensions.

In an integrative employability model, says Darren, individuals create a career identity, which is cultivated by a narrative that integrates social capital, human capital and adaptability.  Human capital components include doing good work, expertise and competencies.  Social capital components include ethics and communitarian concerns:  professional contributions to society, personal integrity.

EMPLOYABILITY

Quoting from Nicholas Rose in Powers of Freedom, Darren described the contemporary global problem of unemployment:

Unemployment is now conceptualized as a phenomenon to be governed – through acting on the conduct of the unemployed person, obliging him or her to improve “employability,” by acquiring skills, both substantive skills and skills in acquiring work, obliging the individual to engage in a constant and active search for work…Personal employment and macroeconomic health are to be ensured by encouraging individuals to “capitalize” themselves, to invest in the management, presentation, promotion and enhancement of their own economic capital as a capacity of their selves and as a lifelong project.”

In the current environment, governments insist that individuals take an active role in being “employable” – we must be in a state of constant change and update to be employable.  The portfolio is in this context a tool for development of self – a powerful technology, which in some larger sense allows for “working on the self” toward this goal of being “employable.”

Darren created a four-fold table using his two dimensions of tension and then provided examples for each type thereby produced:

AGGREGATIVE INTEGRATIVE
INDIVIDUALIST NedCar (Holland) UtilVIF (Quebec)
COLLECTIVIST Internet Shiminjuku Augusta Community Portfolio

The first example, NedCar in Holland, is a fairly traditional I/O assessment model.  There are specific KSA’s (knowledge, skills and abilities) needed and it’s the individual’s responsibility to learn them.

Case #1:  NedCar in Holland (Werk.nl)

  • From job-based to project-based industry
  • Document competencies and market them to potential employers
  • Plan retraining

Competency Matching for Employability

  • Choose competency frameworks defined by employers
  • Determine and document competency profile
  • Compare with career profiles
  • Connect to learning activities to fill gaps
  • Match with jobs

The second example, integrative individualist, uses utilVIF in Quebec to illustrate the use of portfolios to document and facilitate the integration of immigrants in three stages.  This type highlights a view of individuals as seeing employment within the context of other parts of lives.  But, again, like the aggregative individualist model, the individual conforms him or herself to adapt to the external demands of employers.

Case #2: utilVIF in Quebec

  • Successful and harmonious integration of immigrants
  • Modular personal portal links services to self representation

The project rolled out in three phases:

Phase 1:  Basic integration

  • Language proficiency
  • Personal profiles
  • Experiences
  • Competence

Phase 2: Work integration

  • Finding employment
  • Performing interviews
  • Local employment culture
  • Starting a business

Phase 3: Daily life

  • Housing
  • Family
  • Banking
  • Leisure
  • Citizenship

The third case, Internet Shiminjuku in Japan, provides and example of aggregative collectivist approaches, in which individuals have responsibility for each other)

Case #3:  Internet Shiminjuku

  • Juki as lifelong institution of learning
  • Juku of citizenship
  • Autonomous, social and tool
  • Firi – respect for social relationship
  • Wa – tinkering for integration

Part of citizenship is contributing to learning of others, thus peer teaching is used to build social capital.

The model features:

  • Regional online learning network
    • Citizen lecturers
    • Citizen participants
  • New career paths
  • New enterprises
  • Digital archives

Teaching in this model is distributed across community – it is not an isolated function of the educational system.

The fourth case represents an integrative collectivist approach.  Here, were look at the whole of the town of Augusta, Arkansas.

Case #4:  Augusta, Arkansas (Darren is working on this)

Augusta is a small impoverished town that needs to find role in new economy with a very successful literacy program based out of a regional health center.

Goals of the Augusta Portfolio

  • Make visible to the world the impressive reading and writing of the people of Augusta
  • Part conversations about Augusta’s heritage, achievements and aspirations
  • Provide and online place to conduct and share such conversations
  • Help people in Augusta develop 21st century literacies
  • Synthesize and communicate a vision of Augusta’s future

Three layers

  • Exhibits – designed by readers and writers in Augusta with the media – digital artifacts, social media conversation – vision more than a reality at this stage
  • Collective representation
  • Individual – this is on the margins.  Darren used a FaceBook example to show a counter example of how individuals can lose control over what gets posted by others to their individual portfolios

In this integrative collectivist model, the two tensions pull against each other— there is a logic for how things are organized – someone is responsible – but all of the pieces fit together as outlined below.

Public Displays of Connections

  • Blogroll and friends lists as messages (Donath and Boyd, 2004)
  • Intentional performance of identity rather than a transparent representation of a social network
    • Note re loss of control in FaceBook
    • “impression management is an inescapably collective process” (2008) Danah boyd as suicide girl
    • self-representation is necessarily a collaborative enterprise
    • widgets connected – you cannot draw a boundary
    • Materially Connected
      • Neither fully productive or consumption
      • Compare to “authorship” and “ownership” and “control”
      • Meaning and functionality dependent on connections  (Perkle 2008)
      • Where’s the text in this context
      • Traditional boundaries are gone

Lots of food for thought and nourishment for integrating thinking and planning while already in flight.  Contact for Darren Cambridge below.  Slides are available on SlideShare.

ncepr.org/Darren

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AAEEBL News

Helen Barrett stresses the importance of reflections in a presentation scheduled for tomorrow in Mumbai: 

Blurring the Boundaries: 
Social Networking & ePortfolio Development  

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ePortfolios at CUNY

Welcome to our ePortfolio page on the CUNY Academic Commons.  You might want to check the ePortfolio Projects at CUNY Colleges on the Best Practices Wiki.   And I have pasted below the results of our survey of colleges.

 

Level of Activity

Funding

Tech Fees

Platform

Scope

Baruch

 

 

 

 

 

BMCC

Piloting

Implementing

No

Yes

Johns Hopkins System

Teacher Education, Career Development

BCC

Planning, Piloting, Implementing,

Evaluating

Title V

Yes

Digication

Honors, Art, Education, Paralegal/ 300 students

City Tech

Implementing,

Evaluating

Start-up with Title V

Yes

Dreamweaver/

Open source

9 departments /800 students

City College

Planning

MC

No

Expo

Gen Ed, Humanities, Science, Education

CSI

Piloting

MC

No

Digication

Education

CUNY SPS Online

Planning

Piloting

MC

No

Digication

Communication and Culture/ Business

Grad Center

 

 

 

 

 

Hostos

Planning, Piloting, Implementing,

Evaluating (?)

Perkins

Yes

Digication

Education, Clip, Freshman Academy (60 students)

Hunter

Piloting

No

No

DK

School of Ed.

Journalism

 

 

 

 

 

John Jay

Planning

MC

No

DK

English and History

KCC

Planning Implementing

 

No

Yes

Digication

Early Childhood   Sociology

Nursing

LaGuardia

Planning, Piloting, Implementing, Evaluating

Yes

Yes

Concord/

Piloting new system with Sakai

11,000 students

Law

None

 

 

 

 

Lehman

Planning,

Piloting,

Implementing,

Evaluating

MC

No

Digication

Education

 

 

 

Macaulay

Implementing/

Evaluating

No

No

WordPress plus buddypress, bbpress, assorted plug-ins

1200 students

Medgar

Planning

No

No

CK

Education

Queens

Planning,

Piloting,

Implementing

Evaluating

MC

Plan to

Sea Monkey, Google Sites

Graduate School of Library Sciences, Secondary Education, SEEK Freshman Year, TESOL

QCC

Implementation/

Evaluation

Perkins

No

Epsilen

Business, Nursing, Liberal Arts

York

Piloting

No

No

WordPressMU

10 professsors/ 400 students  in ENG, Writing, Teacher Ed, MUS, PHIL

 

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