Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Morning Learning with Discovery Education

It seems that Saturday mornings before I head off to my fall/winter spin class I  discover great free webinars on line.  This Saturday was no exception.

This morning I discovered the  DEN Virtual Conference, which was a free on line conference put on by the Discovery Education Network - aka DEN.  The DEN has fantastic resources that can be used in a classroom at every level. While I didn't have wide open day for learning, I did have time to listen in on Kathy Cassidy's talk on Primary Digital Portfolios.

If you follow me on twitter, or you've regularly read this blog you'll know that I have a lot of respect for Kathy and what she is doing with her grade one students in Moose Jaw.  She's been a real mentor for me as I got my feet wet then jumped in full splash into this on line, connected educator's world.  And while we talk and learn from/with one another all the time I had never heard her actually do a presentation.  I knew I was in for a treat.

First off, before I go any further, if you're new to this on line education world you need to understand that these webinars are not only free but they allow you to learn in the comfort of your own home while wearing your PJs.  Oh how I love my PJs.

Back to the Primary Digital Portfolio presentation.

Kathy and I have talked many times about her students' digital portfolios, and with her recent switch from Blogmiester to EduBlog I was curious to see what she was doing differently if anything and why.  To no surprise she didn't disappoint. Kathy shared why she switched from paper portfolios to digital ones. She shared various platforms that you can use to host portfolios. She shared the types of work her students add to their portfolios.  She discussed ways to keep the children's identity safe and that she teaches on line safety and the importance of a clean digital footprint.  If you're an early primary teacher looking to have digital portfolios for your students to document their learning over the year, I highly recommend that you check out her webinar here.

But of course listening to Kathy speak just makes my head spin more.  Right now I'm am using both Evernote to collect samples, and Kidblog.  Evernote is great because I have separate folders for each student's work. It's really easy to add content from an iPad but I haven't figured out how to share to a global audience. I can share with specific people, but not the world or at least not yet.  As Kathy  mentioned in her DEN presentation sharing the artifacts with the world is one of the strengths of taking a portfolio on line.  The audience for a child's work grows exponentially and it also allows visitors to leave comments on the work.  With Evernote that isn't possible.... yet.

With Kidblog my students can independently write their own blog posts, but there is no easy way for them to upload their digital artifacts onto their blogs.  It falls into what I call the "grey hair" factor because for me to upload the amazing artifacts my students are making on several different iPads for all 21 of them, I will in fact go grey.  I don't want to go grey any sooner than I have to.  So my reality is at the moment they are creating a ton of incredible work (both digitally and non digitally) but very little of it is getting into their digital portfolios.  Yes, there are tons of photos of this great work, but I just can't find the time to add it to each and every one of their individual blogs.

But.... there is a very strong rumour that there will soon (please, please, please, pretty please really soon) be an app available for KidBlog which will allow my students to EASILY and INDEPENDENTLY upload their photos directly to their blogs.  Oh, how I just can't wait for that day.  Then my students can have real digital portfolios like Kathy Cassidy's have.

So while I wasn't able to spend an entire day of learning with the Discovery Education Network, I was able to spend some time and in the process I learned a whole lot more this morning.  Sometimes I wonder if my brain will explode from all my learning.  Hopefully it won't.


  1. All the sessions are archived. Share widely and freely. Just click and watch

    1. That's awesome Dean thanks for sharing. I only had the link to Kathy's session. Now I can watch others, although I REALLY need to clean my home. :-)