Recording from the April 11, 2012 webinar session
Thanks to Patricia Donohue of ePortfolio California for making the recording available from the webinar session.
following questions are a compilation of the questions and concerns
identified in an informal polling of eportfolio community members during
spring 2011. The answers are the vendor's responses.
What vision or understanding of learning informed the design of your tool?
Chalk & Wire was developed 15 years ago by a team of educators who continue to lead and manage the company. The focus has always been four fold:
collect the "best of the best, so far”. The system was designed to
allow a user to quickly create as many portfolios as needed or desired.
These may be produced using templates (usually organizationally
established for assessment or research purposes by an administrator) OR
as completely "free-form” expressions of the individual which may include personal reflections on learning to date, and/or the presentation of authentic work to peers or
employers. Individual portfolios may also be cast across a host of
social networking providers. No limit to the size of the collection is
is a modern Rich Internet Application (RIA). Our strength is the
development of rapid workflows using elegant user interfaces. This
emphasis has the effect of reducing training needs for all users. Chalk
& Wire develops improvements all year, every year and provides
updates at no fee to all users. We welcome our clients’ input to this
need rapid feedback. They want to know how they are doing and where
they stand. To facilitate this Chalk & Wire has developed an
assessment interface that allows faculty to assess quickly and
efficiently on any tool, including Smart Devices. We also have used
enhanced technologies such as the conversion of video to streaming media
to speed up the review process and have added audio commenting to
leverage more feedback to learners in the shortest possible time.
provide wide and deep scope for reporting. We focus on acting as
mentors to help our clients assure validity and fairness in assessment.
Without validity there is no point in engaging in the work in the first
place. The development of high order
analytics means educators and their leaders can make informed changes
to improve learning more quickly and with greater confidence. Change to
student learning environments cannot wait for next accreditation cycle.
Telling schools they need to engage in "continuous improvement” without
providing them with the tools to inform this action is unacceptable.
How does your vision of learning promote a student-centered approach to education? (e.g. student ownership of his/her learning)
Chalk & Wire was the first company in this sector to provide reflective text entry for every page of a portfolio. We recommend institutions
do not use us as a file drop box, debunking the notion that digital
interaction is all about handing in an assignment and getting a grade. . Chalk & Wire templates are flexible allow for creative presentations. Streaming video and images to rapidly arrange the look and feel of page as desired. We also provide professionally designed graphic template to generate student shar their work with others. rapid and secure with anyone in the world. Students can create new portfolios at will (no limits and quickly use our page content import feature to grab work done for formal assessment and re-purpose it for
targeted resumes or personal portfolios that can be automatically
linked to commonly used social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for
for both peer and self-evaluation is provided. A 360˚view of student
effort is possible in Chalk & Wire without the use of other systems.
Chalk & Wire preserves iterations of student submitted work to
encourage changes and improvements and to allow users to see
progress-over-time growth. This fact alone makes it possible for
learners to see the impact of their efforts to master new skills and
knowledge – a powerful motivator to a sense of learning ownership.
your tool allow students to control permissions? Can they share with
people outside of the institution? How? (e.g., advisor, prospective
students control who sees their portfolios and when. Using a secure URL
(https) they can share a page, selected sections or whole portfolios
with anyone in the world. These shares can be password and expiry
protected and updated to include new content with the click of a button.
No one can see work unless the student shares or formally submits it.
Links to shared portfolio content (such as digital resumes authored in
Chalk & Wire) can be in the hands of advisors and prospective
employers in minutes, presented as the viewer required, or as creatively
intended by the student.
What is the process for inviting feedback on work or artifacts?
features supplemented by advanced commenting tools (selected text
highlighting, text commenting, and audio commenting) all add the natural
flow of feedback on work samples. Forms and surveys designed in Chalk
& Wire can be sent to reviewers to add more detail to the
commentary. In the case of formal assessment, an easy to navigate "My
Results” screen gives the learner one-stop, sortable access to all
feedback to date.
Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-student collaboration.
& Wire provides a fully featured collaboration tool. Users can make
selected elements of a work page collaborative and invite anyone within
or outside of their institution to participate. Granular permissions
give the user control over what is seen, by whom and when. Further
shared elements of a portfolio can be automatically embedded in a wide
range of digital communications and social media (email, Facebook,
Twitter, and Linked-in).
How does your tool support and encourage the reflection process for students and faculty?
& Wire provides the means for system designers to structure
reflection for novices on each page of the portfolio if desired. This
assures the learners do not arrive on a blank page with no clue about
next steps. Students can of course generate their own reflections, free
form at any time. Once the student submits pages (or entire portfolios),
all of the robust commenting features in Chalk & Wire become
available to all participants. Comments about reflective practice can be
viewed by the students, who can also make additional comments to carry
on a dialogue. If preferred, the "share” can be taken out of Chalk &
Wire (as a submission) and run over any email client via a secure URL
does your tool address and support institutional level assessment needs
(e.g., aggregating student data and generating reports for
Chalk & Wire provides what is widely viewed as the most robust institutional assessment, tracking and reporting tool suite.
the start, the software leads the designers to focus on the generation
of valid assessment criteria directly from the outcomes/standards. This
is essential for subsequent valid analysis. All required standards are
custom entered for the institution by Chalk & Wire and are
modifiable in the event of a shift in the policies of standards
templates are easy to construct and alter based on data. They can
include instructions to increase the chances of the development of
comparable work by students. These templates, called tables of contents
(TOCs) can then be ‘drag and drop’ connected to assessment instruments.
instruments of a wide range of types can be granularly connected via
‘drag and drop’ with multiple standard sets. This vastly reduces the
time required to design a sound system and also optimizes the data
collected from fewer key assessments.
for tracking the progress of assessment across courses, programs and
the entire institution allow administrators at various levels in the
enterprise to see only the data relevant to them and to sort, search and
organize it at any given moment.
& Wire then provides both off and online analytics tools that are
by far the most wide ranging in power and depth in this sector. Online,
highly configurable custom reports can be quickly set up. This interface
supports drill down and animated visualizations of data from a number
of perspectives. Added to this we provide an off-line tool, CWReporter,
which provides high-end statistical tests to respond quickly to more
complex and demanding enterprise, self-study inquiry such as correlation
matrices, linear regression, multiple interval comparisons, tests for
statistical significance, cluster analysis and much more. All reports
can be usefully exported as visuals or as delimited text files for
immediate import into spreadsheets and other statistical packages.
support is provided via surveys and forms (an included feature) and a
Public API to collect demographic variables to apply to the analysis.
This permits rapid inquiry into factors that might be accounting for
trends found in other analysis.
& Wire provides multiple channels for importing or acquiring data.
The collection of authentic work samples from portfolios can be
supplemented by the import of comparable legacy data against students no
longer at the institution. This is done via a very easy to use import
interface and inexpensive data point accounts. This feature and can
vastly ramp up the size and viability of a data set available to an
institution. Further, pre-configured data entry spreadsheets can be
generated by the system to allow for quick entry of other scores as
& Wire provides features that honor habits of faculty interaction
with students. For example, video (a very common file format in emerging
use of ePortfolios) are converted and compressed upon upload and then
streamed out to the viewer. This makes assessment of such hefty file
types very rapid because the user does not have to sit and wait for such
files to download locally. Further, annotation tools (text and audio)
similar to those provided by desktop software commonly used by faculty
are provided on-line. Also the faculty can download student work files
in Chalk & Wire (as they do in LMSs), use track change software and
then upload the resultant reviewed files (and any other files deemed
helpful by the faculty member) to be viewed by students side by side
with the assessment instrument. LMS integration rounds out the means to
transparently present Chalk & Wire in enterprise software that
faculty already use and embed portfolio authoring in such common
of widely varying scoring ranges. Commonly, not all scores that
institutions want to mix together have the same range. Chalk & Wire
allows users to see and use scoring ranges they are used to working with
and the institution to import scores that will all, in the end be
reduced to a common range for valid statistical purposes.
your application integrate with enterprise systems? Which ones? Do you
have examples of effective integration in support of advising or other
student services you can share?
& Wire provides a Public API and makes available a team of
specialists devoted to system integration. The system can be integrated
with any SIS or other student database system to facilitate Single Sign
On, the push and pull of data in secure space, import of class rosters
and much more.
Chalk & Wire offers the broadest spectrum of LMS integration
available (Blackboard, Moodle/Moodlerooms, Sakai, WebCT (CE/VISTA) and
Brainhoney are all currently supported. We will add by fall 2012
integration with Turnitin. Chalk & Wire’s agile, year-round
programming process then supports other integrations as they are
required at no fee to the end user (just as it does for the addition of
new features, enhancements and improvements). Integration with LMSs is
not restricted to simple SSO and file sharing. Chalk & Wire has
succeeded in being able to "disappear” into an LMS at the granular level
of a course assignment.
is fully supported in Chalk & Wire. Advisor groups can be set up in
advance or managed ad hoc by staff assigned to advise students. This
privilege can also be extended to external personnel working with your
students in internship or mentorship.
What is the main strength of your application?
& Wire provides an easy to use and quick to learn, innovative rich
Internet application for rapid authoring, sharing, collaboration and
assessment. This same ease, power and flexibility is then extended to
broad spectrum analytic features that all those with interests in
inquiry into learning can use to answer questions they have always had,
are now wrestling with or ones that they have yet to imagine. Our
commitment to improvement of these tools in a year-round R&D cycle
combined with what others have described as "support obsession” have
made Chalk & Wire the long-term partner of many institutions for
more than 15 years. Above all, where we are used for data driven
decision-making we make a commitment to help you design and develop a
system that will blend well with your in-house culture and produce valid
data you can rely upon. After all, if the data is not valid in the
first place, what was the point of engaging in the work?
we do not see the "application” as the sole focus of our work. The
application enables our main mission: the development of sustainable,
positive and proactive assessment cultures to support teaching and
learning. This mission is frankly more about people than it is about
technology. We take a direct interest and direct role in assuring a
deployment and implementation that achieves this mission. This is why so
much of our staff energy is devoted in the first year to assist a
limited number of new clients in their best practice system design,
implementation, tracking and revisions. We provide atypical amounts of
feedback and free consulting to support schools in an endeavor that is
not hard but requires attention to process and details upfront.
What weaknesses have been identified relative to the user experience and shared with you?
Five things emerged over the years that we have dealt with:
our willingness to allow very large file uploads and to provide what is
essentially unlimited storage has taxed some less robust university
labs and their networks at peak times of the academic year. To address
this, local administrators can set the limit for a single file upload to
whatever they think locally appropriate and can change it to account
for peak periods of larger file uploads on campus.
reliance on the unsound practice of making capstone portfolios
(end-of-education or gateway) including uploaded artifact submission of
previously reviewed/assesses work (rather than embedding the entire
process) resulted in double work for students and faculty, and caused
slow downs in our server responses. This is an issue that has been
epidemic in this entire service sector. We have since resolved this in
2010-2011 with eP4, our latest release that witnessed the advent of the
first Rich Internet Application (RIA) in the industry. This has made
concerns about loads on our servers a thing of the past. It cannot
however, address local network and hardware limitations that contributed
significantly to this problem in the first place.
stated, Chalk & Wire’s eP4 is a modern application fully re-written
in 2010-2011 to run technologies that will project into the future (as
opposed to older transactional software common in this field). This
means blazing application speed and also that our work runs on smart
devices. On the short-term downside, this affects users and institutions
that have not kept up with browser technology advances. Older browsers
in labs may not have the features to render some eP4 pages. We alert you
to this when you arrive to log in. Any browser that passes the Web’s
ACID TEST #1 is fully supported (IE 8+, Safari, Chrome, FireFox 3.5+ and
our robust reporting tool, CWReporter was designed to offer simple
tracking as well as support some of the highest-end statistical tests.
This was a function of our early and continuing preference for doing
real research while engaged in program self-study. However, in early
years this meant that even our server farm could not handle such
elevated statistical functions over the Web. CWReporter had to become an
off-line tool that worked only on Windows OS computers. Mac OS was
simply too slow to develop code for, to respond to the demand for more
and more powerful data tools. The re-write of the entire application to
produce an RIA has freed us to bring the most common statistical tests
to a platform-independent user interface on the Web in eP4. On-line
reporting provides for all the standard reporting, custom reporting and
some of the sought after tests for variance and statistical
significance. It also allows for flexible, exploratory reporting and
drill downs not possible in off-line reporting. This is having an
interesting side-effect: the "democratization of data” such that anyone
with the proper permissions in Chalk & Wire can run reports on data
they are allowed to see. We see this as critical development to support sustainable assessment cultures that engage rather than alienate faculty.
are now moving onto our next challenge, the updating of campus-wide
tracking tools not normally associated with this sector. These will give
large institution administrators even more powerful tools for system
set up and maintenance. Stand by for updates to eP4 in the fall of 2012
and in the fall of 2013.
& Wire invented the first open architecture (fully customizable)
use-case scenario ePortoflio system, that could be formally assessed and
the results granularly analyzed and reported out using a wide range of
statistical tests. The company has been configured from the start for
agile development and support; it’s least concern being marketing. As
such, Chalk & Wire has always been a completely "Virtual” company (a
model that has gained traction with other SaaS providers in the past 5
years, but something Chalk & Wire has always done). This focused
capital and energy on the core missions of Chalk & Wire rather than
maintaining an expensive corporate façade. Key work teams are located in
different cities and meet face to face as needed while being
productive, self-directed employees on their own terms. There is no such
thing as a workday at Chalk & Wire. There are just tasks that need
to be done without regard to how long it takes, where, when or how. This
has created a hallmark of long-term, highly motivated professionals who
have been with the company a very long time. This adds continuity and a
sense of community to our more than 420 institutions served in Canada,
the USA and Australia.
Chalk & Wire serves over 420 clients in K-12 and Higher Education
as well as other learning organizations in the private sector such as
coaching associations and registered training organizations (financial
·Student pricing licensing model: Subscription model for deployments under 3000/year for terms of 1,2,3, and 4+1 (free 5th
year). Costs can be as low as $20/year. Over 3000 student deployments
provide schools with an institutional pricing model over longer terms
that further reduce this price.
·Institutional pricing model:See
above. Also institutions can host the solution themselves. Depending on
the size of the deployment annual fees range from $40K – $60K.
·Postgraduate/transfer student license model:
Students can continue to use Chalk & Wire after graduation or
download their portfolios with all artifacts as a fully working website.
They renew their accounts for the on-going ability to edit and add to
their account for 1,2,3 or 5 years (same pricing as new accounts).
·Institution service agreement model:One is available for both year-to-year and price advantage, multi-year contracts.
·No ceiling storage:Chalk
& Wire provides unlimited storage to its users and only limits
single uploads to a gigabyte (by far this is the most generous provided
in the SaaS community in this sector).
·On-line support services:
After initial training, all support is free and on-demand. Support
provided ranges from simple application assistance to system development
and analysis for effectiveness. Toll free access is provided from 8 AM -
8 PM EST Monday to Thursday, 8 AM to 5 PM EST Friday and weekend
support is provided from noon - 8 PM EST during peak usage periods.
On-line help is extensive, easy to search and includes short movie
tutorials and step-by-step text with image help. Further, if a user has
any concern or question they want more assistance with, they can
initiate an on-screen ticket and request for a direct call at a time
convenient to them.
·Institutional support services (Free):
Provisioning; technical, application and system design; and on-going
revision consulting. These are on-demand and just-in-time delivered.
·IT staffing requirements:
Assuming that Chalk & Wire is hosting and no local enterprise
system integrations are required (SSO, LMS, SIS, Portals), there is
little or no need for IT personnel to be involved. All they must assure
is that the institution has reliable and consistent access to the public
Internet.After training, an institution can be ready to deploy in a matter of a few weeks.
·Other company policies of note:
oLess is more:After
years of very rapid growth, Chalk & Wire elected to take a
restricted, new client policy in 2007. The company conducts due
diligence on prospective clients. Each year, only 12-15 new organization
and/or expanded deployments within extant clients will be undertaken.
Schools who lack the "cultural assets” to create a sustainable, positive
and proactive assessment culture will not receive demonstrations. Those
that are provided with demonstrations must assist by providing
materials to flesh-out most aspects of the intended use-case scenario.
Therefore, demonstrations are treated as initial deployments and are
tests of the institution’s readiness to engage in this sort of work.
They also add to the investigation of Chalk & Wire’s "fit” with the
local culture and personnel for both parties. If post-demonstration, but
pre-deployment, new information comes to light that point strongly to
conditions that would seriously affect successful deployment based on
best-practice methods, a client requesting the use of Chalk & Wire
may be denied.
oMarketing is a waste of money:
Experience has taught that attending vast numbers of conferences, cold
call gorilla marketing practices, lost-leader pilots and other common,
but very expensive marketing tactics in the IT sector, do not yield
sustainable results. Chalk & Wire, relies on word-of-mouth
references and it’s only other public face is it website athttp://chalkandwire.com.
The company prefers to devote its revenues and profit to the on-going
development of new tools and the support of clients. These are
oNo throw-out policy:Chalk
& Wire does not delete student accounts/content. Even if an account
expires it can remain dormant for years. This allows students to use
their work long after graduation and gives the institution constant
access to historical work samples.
oFlexible deployment models:Both hosted and locally hosted solutions are available
All institution installations are customized with their own locally
editable standards and branding in advance of first use. Customized
graphic themes are prepared for students and the institution at no fee.
oNo fee integration:
Integration with Learning Management and Student Information Systems is
provided at no cost. Chalk & Wire will undertake integration in
partnership with local personnel on an as-needed basis.
- System Requirements End User:Any
internet connected computer with a modern browser that supports Rich
Internet Applications (IE 8+, Safari, Firefox 3.5+, Chrome, all smart
device browser applications)
- System Requirements Server: None required. Chalk & Wire handles all server set up, support, and maintenance.
- Insured: Yes. Lloyds of London. Chalk & Wire is annually audited for business practice, and IT security and disaster recovery.
- Hosted service?Yes.
- Storage Capacity (per account):No
limit to individual subscription accounts. In large (over 3000,
contracted) deployment, Chalk & Wire asks that the institution
maintain a 500 MB/user average across the entire deployment, with no
account exceeding 2 gigabytes (no institution has ever approached
eclipsing this limit).
is compliant with FERPA, and the privacy laws in Canada, Australia, the
United Kingdom and the EU. There is a public statement of Chalk &
- Standards compliance: Chalk
& Wire ePortfolios can be downloaded at anytime as zip files that
downloaded ePortfolios can be easily displayed in standard web browsers
and can be hosted on most web servers. Currently engaged actively with
IMS Compliance initiatives.
- Section 508 compliance: Yes
- Published API: The Chalk & Wire API is available upon request.
- Migration/Exportation: Yes.
Data from other systems, assuming they can be exported to ASCII
delimited files can be imported into Chalk & Wire using our robust
importers that handle not only scoring data but also form/survey data
and demographics. Portfolios are downloaded in web-based format that is
standard and web compliant and can be uploaded into any other web
presentation tools available.
- Systems Integration (list known):Colleague,
Banner, PeopleSoft, Data Tel, SharePoint, Blackboard (7.3-9.1+), Moodle
1.9 and 2.0/Moodlerooms (1.9 and 2.0), Sakai, WebCT (CE/Vista),
BrainHoney. Turnitin (for Fall of 2012).
- Accepted artifacts/media (pictures, video, audio, text, html, documents, etc.):All files are accepted.