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Level 2: Reflective Journal/Blog

Collection + Reflection (Immediate Reflection on Learning & Artifacts in Collection) (regularly)
A Focus on Process & Documentation of Learning
  • Organized chronologically (in a blog) -- "Academic MySpace"
  • Captions focus on individual assignments (Background Information on assignment, Response)
  • Artifacts represent integration of technology in more than one curriculum area (i.e., Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math)
  • Reflections on Service Learning Activities
At this level, a learner keeps a learning journal (organized chronologically, with a blog) and reflects on their learning as represented in the samples of their work (artifacts stored in the Digital Archive) or attached/linked to a blog entry. Teachers may set up a structure for student reflection (fill in the blanks in a "Mad Lib, or provide a set of questions to answer about each assignment). This reflective journal can be used to reflect on (and document) service learning activities.

At this level, the artifacts should represent more than a single curriculum area, and demonstrate the many ways that students are using technology across the curriculum.

The primary role of the teacher at this level is to provide formative feedback on the students' work so that they can recognize opportunities for improvement. For younger students, the teacher can help students student collect and select appropriate work samples to showcase learning over time.

The advantage of this approach is that it is familiar to students (many students are used to blogging in Facebook), and is a natural way to document learning and change over time.

Excerpt from Dr. Barrett's White Paper (2005)

Another technology that has potential to make electronic portfolios more engaging is the web log or "blog" as known by those who read and write them. As the Stanford Learning Technologies group has evolved the technology to support its research project on "folio thinking," researcher Helen Chen reports that they are beginning to use blog or "wiki" software to support students' reflections. David Tosh and Ben Werdmuller of the University of Edinburgh have published a paper online (PDF) entitled, "ePortfolios and weblogs: one vision for ePortfolio development."

A weblog is defined as any web page with content organized according to date. Originally, these were pages keeping track of a user’s discoveries on the newly emerging World Wide Web; later the definition expanded to encompass personal diaries, work-related progress reports and even summaries of current events on newspaper websites. (Tosh & Wedmuller, pp. 3-4)
In the context of an ePortfolio, course tutors, lecturers, clubs and societies could all have their own weblogs which users could view on their “friends” page. Students can share information they’ve found or ideas they have on a particular subject, as well as the more social messages which may form a compelling reason for them to use the technology to begin with. (p.4)

Since one of the main goals of a portfolio is reflection on learning, perhaps a blog is a good option, since it can be used as an online reflective journal and an environment that invites collaboration. In the elearningpost blog, graduate student Dan Saffer discussed, "Why I Blog my Postgrad Course." His remarks about what he got out of the process would make many teachers smile, since his insights are consistent with our goals for our student reflections in their portfolios:
Lately, a lot of the things I'm learning in different classes have all started to come together; they all seem to be talking about similar things or things are starting to fit into patterns. Some of this is intentional, some probably not. But I doubt I would have been able to see those patterns as clearly without the blog. There's something about putting your entire coursework together in one place that allows you to more easily make that kind of analysis.

©2005, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D. "White Paper: Researching Electronic Portfolios and Learner Engagement"  pp. 23-24. Available online: http://electronicportfolios.org/reflect/whitepaper.pdf