Thanks for sharing this reflection on your practice Dave. I’ve been wrestling with this for some time now.
In K-12, I’ve used various systems to track student’s progress over time (Hyperstudio / First Class / html / Powerpoint / Google docs). That work around portfolios as a way of documenting learning over time led me to Concordia’s ePearl http://grover.concordia.ca/epearl/promo/en/epearl.php
I think a system like ePearl or an opensource tool like Mahara is still appropriate in K-12. That, of course, doesn’t preclude students opting to set up other accounts, but I’d want to make sure there was a measure of privacy and equity of access for my students.
Now that I’m working with practicing teachers in the graduate diploma program, I’m rethinking what makes sense. I’d like to use Mahara because we have to maintain confidentiality around their field work. There is an ethical consideration to posting fieldwork. My student’s learning statements draw evidence from these field studies, so their portfolios have to remain private. I would like them to be able to collaborate with each other and like the ability mahara gives them to share data with specific users. But the conversation doesn’t end there. I need them to speak with a wider audience of educators. I need them to share their reflections as you have done here, without referencing the students they work with but sharing what they have learned from their inquiry. So far, I’ve asked them to create accounts on WordPress and we’ve been exploring Google and delicious. We’ll work our way up to twitter 🙂
Thanks for making me think Dave. Always enjoy reading your posts.