Wednesday, November 24, 2004

UBC E-Portfolios: Helen's Keynote

Helen Barrett seemed relieved to be talking about reflection and learning, rather than the dark side of the e-portfolio continuum (assessment). Her focus on learning by sharing and viewing digital stories was refreshing and personal. One theme throughout her talk was the connection between motivation, engagement, and deep learning, supported by some excellent references. She made a compelling case for storytelling and narratives providing engagement. A few of my notes during this section:
  • The Art of Changing the Brain James Zull
  • learning arises from the structure of the’s hard to make meaning of experience unless emotions are engaged...if you don’t care, you’re not learning...stories create a framework for caring...deep learning requires this framework and motivation
  • tasks that encourage reflection: open-ended questions, ill-structured, messy, real-life situations, integration of new learning with past experience
    Learning Through Storytelling in Higher Education
  • Recorded narrative enables repeated and shared reflection -– I'm remembering how valuable it has been to go back to read my own entries to learn
  • Metaphors for portfolio: laboratory, story (knowing things, self, their audience)
  • Moving from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation through the portfolio process
    -- autonomy for students, control is crucial (but they have to have internalized the purpose and benefits)

The digital stories Helen showed were excellent -- not because of their production values, which were very simple -- but because of the personal voice that shines through. They're reflections of people's selves, expressions of their ideas and values. She mentioned a digital storytelling project in Wales, showing stories about everything from the personal struggles of a mom to the memories of a senior citizen and a farmer reflecting on the sale of his farm.

I made a note about some of the stories being "goosebumply good" because they're so personal. Even very basic multimedia (displayed text, spoken narrative, slideshow of photos, short video clips, music) expands the voice/uniqueness of the experience. You can immediately see how engaged students would be in this kind of reflection, and what amazing artifacts these could be as part of the process of learning, being understood, and recording moments in life for later.

Much of the discussion focused on telling past stories, but I was scribbling furiously about the possibilities for creating digital stories of how we envision our future lives. Wouldn't it be cool to get a class of Grade 10's creating presentations of their lives 10 or 15 years after graduation? They could collect and use photos of the type of homes, car, location, family size/type, careers, etc...with audio explaining the background and details of how they made it happen. I Could be a pretty powerful learning experience.

No comments: