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AAEEBL, ePortfolios and Transformation of the Educational Enterprise

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 8, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013

August 8th, 2011

The transport of humans on rails began in the U. S. in 1834. The first railroad cars built in the U. S. were flatbed railroad cars with 3 wheel-less stage coaches mounted on the flatbed in a row.

Humans had never moved at speeds above 30 mph in all of human history before railroads. A man crossing the tracks at that time, who looked and saw a train coming, walked across the tracks anyway and was run over, he being incapable of compensating for something moving as fast as a train.

Creating a car with steel wheels to run on tracks was a transformation so enormous, humans had to evolve to understand and use powered vehicles moving that fast. Trains changed the form of human mobility. But placing stage coaches atop railroad cars was a failure of imagination.

Importing actual railway cars from England in those early years also failed because American rails ran over rougher ground than in England and English cars therefore tended to de-rail. The Troy Car Works in Troy, NY, came up with "trucks" on which the railroad car would ride. The loosely-attached trucks provided the flexibility appropriate for the American landscape and have been part of railroad car design ever since.

The trucks were an innovation to make a transformation work in our context.

Information technology presents us with the potential for the greatest transformation ever because it partners with the core of humanity, our brains and our minds. Web technology has already demonstrated its transformatonal power socially and management technology has already demonstrated how it can transform business and work.

But, so far, education has transformed around the edges only. Beliefs about teaching and learning are deeply entrenched throughout our culture and therefore highly resistant to change among parents, young learners, teachers, administrators, and the entire education establishment: great initiatives to improve education often amount to putting better stage coaches on railroad cars. The stage coaches, like traditional classroom concepts of teaching and learning, are segmented, ill-fitted for the new technology they ride upon, and demonstrate no understanding of the potential of the technology.

Electronic portfolios are like the trucks designed at the Troy Car Works: an innovation that enables the technology transformation to work. Eportfolios let us go full speed.

AAEEBL is dedicated to the electronic portfolio because we see that documented learning, or "evidence-based learning" as in our name, enables learners to also go at "full speed," to be active, to connect their learning experiences, and develop the habit and need to continue learning all through life.

Institutional transformation based on building evidence of learning in electronic portfolios is not only a viable way to guide institutional transformation, but is also a wise and "electrifying" way. This idea is gaining recognition and adherents.

The transformation going on in education worldwide affects all aspects of the educational enterprise, from the credit system, seat time, evaluation and assessment, and the role of faculty and students, to the alignment of academic structures with social and economic structures that have evolved so rapidly in just the past 10 years.

But, in the end, we value most highly how young learners learn and how they develop. Now matter the shape of the enterprise, learners remain at the center of our interests.



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