Carla Zembal-Saul, Associate Professor of Education in Science Education

During the Summer of 2008, Dr. Carla Zembal-Saul, was a resident Faculty Fellow.The focus of this project is to explore the PSU blogging platform as a vehicle for student e-portfolios. In particular, we are considering the ways in which we might take full advantage of some of the fundamental aspects of blogging and the richness of the blogging culture to engage Penn State students in professional discourse communities around frameworks and problems of practice associated with their chosen professions. From the perspective of blogs as portfolio, students participation with blogging can both inform their development and provide a means of monitoring their own development along program learning outcomes and personal goals over time.

In cases where this information might be used by programs for accreditation, reporting, and/or self-assessment purposes, we will need to create a mechanism for "capturing" evidence from students' professional learning blogs at specified points in time across their programs. Think of these as "snapshots" of development. The larger umbrella under which this work falls is that of using digital media to serve as evidence of learning.

This project will build on existing research and practice on e-portfolios as a platform for supporting student learning and development. Learn more about the progress made on this project during the Summer of 2008 by visiting the ETS Wiki.

Dr. Zembal-Saul will be returning as a Fellow during the Summer of 2009 as well to continue and extend this work.

Kickoff Dinner

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On Thursday night all of out TLT Faculty Fellows (current and past) got together with project team leads at Otto's for an evening of food and conversations. It was the kind of evening that has left me wanting more time with these brilliant people in settings like this. How we work to make sure we create informal time together is a big goal of mine for this year ... building these connections between all of our Fellows is the next step in my mind. I had an amazing time getting to hear each of them talk about their own projects and start to build links with each other.

The Long View

Check out the Flickr photo set to see more from the evening.

Creating Cross Pollination

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In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion about how to create cross pollination among the faculty fellows. This week's big accomplishment for our groups has been to arrange a joint summit with Chris Long's group. The Fellows are also scheduled to be on a panel for the Summer Camp, but I hope there are more opportunities.

When we compared notes on projects, it definitely seemed like there was a lot of overlap. Allan asked what we thought the common theme was, and on further reflection, I think it's that we all are working towards a common vision of the Internet being a place where anyone, anywhere can contribute to the knowledge of the community (and I count brisk discussion as an important part of that).

Ellysa Cahoy has been focusing on new information literacy - which not only allow students to filter the enourmous amount of content out there but hopefully will allow them to make intelligent contributions. Carla Zembal-Saul has been focusing on student portfolios, which is an important skill to allow us to organize and share what we are learning with the world. Chris Long has been focusing on how the Internet can enable discussions of the type practiced by Socrates...but with a potentially much larger stage. And Stuart Selber has been focusing on how technical writers need to prepare for a world where users may be providing "official instruction" on a product.

I think there's been lots of interesting discussion going on and it's giving a lot of us a rare opportunity to think about how our jobs really can impact Penn State and the larger world. As I said, I hope there are more opportunities for cross pollination out there for us and the Learning Design community. These instructors have a lot to teach us.

If you want to sample what we are thinking, I would recommend Mary Janzen's last blog entry on technical writing. As always, I find it very interesting reading.

Next steps and new directions

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Returning to ETS as a faculty fellow this summer has been a natural next step for me. Last summer I worked with an amazing group of designers and developers that included Brad Kozlek, Chris Stubbs, and others. We spent time contemplating the potential of blogs as e-portfolio, discussing and developing tools and templates to support the professional growth of learners while allowing for program assessment, and dreaming-up a mechanism to capture a "moment in time" in the e-portfolio space without interfering with users' work flow. There were a number of successes along the way, such as the adoption of the blogging platform as the primary e-portfolio tool at PSU and a pilot project with Schreyer Honors College students and their advisors. I undertook two pilot projects with education majors in 2008-09. My goal now is to synthesize what was learned from these initial efforts and to explore new problems of practice that were revealed along the way.

I just wanted to take a quick moment and introduce myself to people visiting our TLT Fellows site. I'm Cole Camplese, director of ETS. It is my responsibility to help keep us moving in a positive direction and to help discover great projects for us to be working on. I'll be working with Carla this thinking about how to extend the work we accomplished last year around the notion of social ePortfolios. I think we'll have some interesting things to share as we go forward. Look for posts from the team as work on new ideas this summer.

ETS Team: Carla

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Each Faculty Fellow is assigned a group of interested staff from ETS. The team will meet weekly with the Fellow and work through ideas and activities. The team members assigned to Carla are:

  • Cole Camplese
  • Brad Kozlek
  • Jeff Swain

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About TLT Fellows

TLT Fellows will play a critical role in the success of many initiatives across Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT). Fellows are essential to the future of TLT's network as connecting points of intelligence, insight, energy, and knowledge-sharing. TLT Fellows will help to drive thinking from within to directly influence later projects and to share fresh ideas and skills with the larger Penn State community. Learn more about how to become a Fellow.