One of those “write about this” days…It looks like my school is going to take part in a performance based assessment pilot that the State of New Jersey is looking to implement in tandem with current standardized assessments…which led me into a discussion with a colleague of alternative assessments as laid out by Grant Wiggins who is just down the road from us. A little while later, my referer log pointed me to the ASUonline Weblog, a newly found MT Web log aimed at “online teaching and learning news”…which led me to Making the Case for the Use of Web-Based Portfolios in Support of Learning to Teach. And the whole while, through all of those converstations, I’m thinking about Manila.
At some point this morning when I was responding to my Journalism 1 kids’ first stories, I actually blurted out something like “God, I love Manila.” Didn’t think I’d ever say that, but now that I’ve really rolled up my sleeves a bit, I’m realizing what an amazing tool it is. My students are flourishng with it. Problems are minimal. The kids ask me to teach them tweaks. It’s become a very creative, supportive environment, and the Web logs are a big piece of that. I’m at the point where someone’s going to have to show me a lot to make me believe there is a better alternative out there.
Anyway, I’m looking and reading all this stuff today about assessment and Web portfolios and teacher practice and I’m not believing how well this tool meshes with all of that. And more…the mentoring and collaborative nature of Web logs, thoroughly discussed here, adds a whole new important dimension to the concept.
And I’m also not believing that there aren’t more people out there making the connection. The article ref’ed above is only six months old, yet not one mention of Web logs. This great article in Syllabus from December with literally a ton of resources makes no mention of Web logs. Helen Barrett, whose work on electronic portfolios is ground breaking, hasn’t broken Web log ground as far as I can tell. Still amazing.
When I mention the idea of kids building online portfolios from elementary through middle through high school and on to college, people just shake their heads in wonder. Can we even imagine what that might look like? How teachers might use and build on that performance? How kids might reflect on and grow from their own work?
I’m not saying Manila is necessarily the tool to do that. But it does allow one to think out of the box, and that’s worth $299 a year in itself.