Digital Portfolios Meet Accreditation

So, I’m jumping right back into the ed tech fray in this new position. As always, I tend to assess things from two viewpoints- that of an educator and that of a learner.  I’ve had quite the personal learning saga trying to find an alternative path to licensure and graduate coursework, and it directly relates to how students today personalize their learning.

Coursera TFL2

This weekend, I enrolled in my first MOOC course through Coursera’s “Foundations of Teaching for Learning 2: Being a Teacher”. I did sign on and pay the $29 for the “Signature Track” option to test out this way of verifying online coursework. My plan is to complete the 6 course series and apply for the Commonwealth Education Trust certificate. Does that help here in the good ol’ US of A? Not yet, but I’m hopeful that we are on the path within Thompson School District to not only offer alternative routes to education for students, but also for professionals. (Read: I want my position and salary to reflect my expertise, not just a formal degree or certification.) There will be hurdles to overcome, but I think it is possible now within the innovation zone structure or charter school model.

Through the course discussion forums, I’ve been introduced to two online portfolio tools. The plan at E3 Learning CO to date has been to use WordPress for student portfolio development. I think that will still remain an important component of demonstrating and reflecting on learning, but I am excited about these online systems as a way to professionally package self-directed learning artifacts, MOOCs, and traditional education for both myself and students in the E³ program.

Accredible Julie CunninghamDegreed Julie CunninghamAccredible

  • Professional, resume-like profile view.
  • Showcases all kinds of learning- traditional, online, etc.
  • Uses and endorsement structure similar to LinkedIn.


  • Ability to log vast amounts of educational content import- degrees, MOOCs, online badges, books, articles, etc.
  • Gives ‘points’ for conferences and events, as well as more traditional learning modes.
  • Connects with  a comprehensive list of online learning sites like Khan Academy, Codeacademy, Coursera, and many more.

My major concern with the two sites is longevity. Will this be around long enough to support independent learners as they  progress through to the workforce? Will one or the other “win” out?

For now, I’m maintaining my own digital portfolio in triplicate- WordPress, Accredible, and Degreed. My personal favorite right now is Accredible because it bridges the gap between traditional and unconventional educational methods and allows learners to showcase both in a professional format that employers will be able to easily navigate.

Are you using any of these sites personally? Are you using them with students? Are you an employer comfortable hiring based on these portfolios?

What a Tablet Does, and Doesn't, Do…

I’ve been using my iDevice almost exclusively since I got it back in March 2012, and I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the results. Here is my take on using an iDevice (insert your tablet of choice… the issues are similar with each of them)…


  • More reading. I’ve read tons more books. I check them out from the library, purchase them from Amazon, and generally consume lots of information. I read the news regularly now on the device.
  • More connection with family. My extended family uses FaceTime extensively to keep in touch. I can wash dishes and talk with my mom at the same time. #sweet
  • More connection with local people. I tend to use the device to extend conversations, take notes, etc. for face to face meetings. And there are really great multiplayer family games that we use at a moments notice.
  • Less paper clutter. Now that I have trained myself, receipts and notes and everything just goes straight in… I love Notability especially for drawing out garden ideas and taking notes at meetings.
  • Less email time. I find it’s pretty easy to junk my mail on a device. I think it’s because of some of the cons I list below.
  • Better focus. I’m not jumping all over the place… which leads me to the cons…


  • Less writing. My blogging has pretty much come to a screeching halt. It’s too hard to write quickly, edit, add pictures, etc. on the device. I have a keyboard, but having to punch the home button repeatedly to scroll through applications, copy/paste etc. just makes writing a pain. So I haven’t done that. And I miss it.
  • Less typing. Anywhere. Email, blog posts, comments, Facebook… I don’t like typing on the iDevice. I don’t like the way it goes back and autocorrects in the strangest of ways, making me sound like an illiterate, grammatically stunted person. I use less words when I do actually type, which generally means less communication.
  • Fewer online connections. It’s just more difficult to keep up with Twitter and everything else. No quick tabbing from one thing to the next, or seeing notifications pop up while writing a post.
  • Less production in general. I play with the Pages app, but there are definite limitations. Which means that checklist I started back in August still hasn’t been perfected and we are limping along with something much less than I would have produced on a laptop with much more time.
  • Less creativity. It’s not a creation device in any way… yes, I can make cool cards, or scrapbooky things, but in general, it’s hard and time consuming to create.

Lessons Learned:

  1. It is not a laptop replacement. Period. I really wanted it to be.
  2. It is a great way to read and learn and use in a group setting without the ‘screen wall’ that goes up with laptops.
  3. I need to work with both devices regularly. I need to use the iDevice as a book and the laptop as my pen and paper.

Ramifications for Education?

See #3 above. Students need to have access to a way to easily connect, create and explore…. not just read, consume, and play. Can the iDevice do that? Ja. Is it easy? No. Will students find it hard to do if they are only used to using an iDevice? I don’t know. Right now, I think they still need both. Or access to both.

What about you?

(A funny aside…. I can’t tell you how many times recently I have touched the screen on my laptop to click or move something…)


Algebra- Why and When?

Let me ‘fess us right now… I am not a fan of math. I use it when necessary, but have some longstanding hang-ups, especially when it comes to algebra. This year, I have the pleasure of walking my 7th grade daughter through Algebra I. Can you imagine the joy that fills my heart? (extreme sarcasm here, for those of you who don’t know me well)

Thankfully, I have a local group of educators who listen and respond to hard questions, like “Why algebra? And when?”. Obviously, I know my own bias will get in the way, not just mathematically, but technologically… if I can stick it in Wolfram Alpha and get the answer so that I can move on with my life or project, why do I need the ability to solve the problem? I don’t have a good answer.

My basic question is this… why are we moving students rapidly through math concepts? Is there a purpose for this in their life/future career?

I’ve heard responses from my local edupeeps, but am curious…. what do you think? Is algebra necessary? If so, why? And when are students developmentally ready for it? What role does technology play in the content and breadth of math instruction? (Links to your blog posts are appreciated, as always!)

photo credit: simplerich via photopin cc