Using CD-ROM Technology with Preservice Teachers to Develop Portfolios
The College of Education and Human Services at theUniversity of North Florida (UNF) has established a preserviceteacher education program that emphasizes clinical experiences inschool classrooms. The clinical education component of the programhas enabled the College to establish and maintain fine workingrelationships with area school districts. An important outcome ofthese relationships is a special clinical education program. Throughthis program, the College has refined its supervisory practices intwo, two-semester-hour courses required of all preservice teachers,EDF 3945 and EDF 3946. Closely linked to these courses are courses inteaching pedagogy required of all education majors. All of thesecourses are taken before the internship semester. The program enablesthe College to employ experienced master teachers to help instructand supervise clinical education in elementary and secondary schools.The teachers hold visiting instructor appointments at the University,and funding for the program is shared by the school districts and theUniversity.
The clinical experiences for the two courses inthe program are completed by the preservice teachers during theprofessional preparation sequence. They enroll in EDF 3945 FieldLaboratory I and courses in teaching pedagogy during their firstsemester and take EDF 3946 Field Laboratory II and special methodscourses in their second or third semester before internship.On-campus seminars for EDF 3945 and 3946 are taught by the visitinginstructors. For each course, the seminars are combined with aten-week, five-hour-per-week clinical experience in a public schoolclassroom. Course instructors in the methods courses coordinate theirclinical education requirements with the work of the clinicaleducation faculty. An important outcome for preservice teachersenrolled in these courses is the development of their professionalportfolio.
This CD-ROM project was developed as part of theJacksonville Urban Educational Partnership (JUEP). Funded by the U.S.Department of Education, it is a multi-agency collaborativepartnership of a large urban school district, a teacher organization,a community college, a university and selected parents, businessesand community agencies. The CD-ROM was developed to assist preserviceteachers in the preparation of their professional portfolios as toolsfor reflection and to evaluate the skills and knowledge attainedduring their two semesters of clinical education. The content of theCD-ROM disc was based on the textbook, How to Develop a ProfessionalPortfolio: A Manual for Teachers. The CD-ROM disc includes guidelinesfor assembling a portfolio, format suggestions and suggestedartifacts which represent teaching performance.
One of the standards of professional interactionthat provides a thread running through the teacher education programat UNF is reflectivity. Teacher reflection has been found to be anintrapersonal experience leading to insight about oneself andexisting perceptions. The development of preservice teacherportfolios documenting reflections on early clinical experiencescaptures the richness and complexities of their teaching andlearning. Compilation of portfolios during preservice clinicalexperiences is becoming common practice. Portfolios may be used inseveral ways, including journal writing to record teaching andlearning experiences, as tools for reflection and for overallevaluation of knowledge and skills acquired by preservice teachers. Aprofessional portfolio provides a record of the developmentalprogress made during early clinical experiences in schools. It isalso helpful to the faculty responsible for determining strengths andareas for growth, providing direct evidence of what preserviceteachers know and can do.
Development of the CD-ROM
CD-ROM technology was selected as thedissemination tool for several reasons. The CD-ROM format can holdmore than 650MB of data or the equivalent of 250,000 pages of text.This medium was ideal for presenting the multimedia needed for thisproject, including text, graphics, photographs, sound, a large numberof artifacts, nine video segments and an entire student-producedportfolio in CD-ROM format. CD-ROM was also selected because it islightweight, easily portable, encoded in a very durable plastic, readwith a laser beam that d'es not erode the quality of the disk, and isinexpensive to reproduce.
One of the major factors guiding the developmentof the CD-ROM disc was to hire a professional firm for productionassistance and CD-ROM mastering. The business partner agreed tohandle the production for a nominal fee. The following inventory ofequipment was used in the production of the CD-ROM: a computer withlarge RAM memory and a large hard drive; optical and graphicalscanners; digital cameras; digitizing boards; large storage devicesfor graphics, sound and video; software to accompany the hardware;software for pre- and post-production of the digital data; and aCD-ROM recorder.
A UNF development team was responsible forplanning the project. The team completed the overall design, script,photographs, scanned documents, video segments and sound track.Project members included a project director, instructional systemdesigners, content experts, writers, graphic artists, photographers,videographers and programmers. The project manager was responsiblefor facilitating schedules and budgets.
Faculty members served as content experts in thedesign and scripting phases of the project. As the development teamdetermined the essential elements of the instructional designprocess, the following questions were considered:
- What are the goals of the project?
- Who is the intended audience?
- What will the preservice teacher be able to do after using the CD-ROM disc?
- What is the best format for learning the content?
- How will preservice teacher evaluation occur?
With the help of content specialists and scriptwriters, the script was developed first. While it was tempting tostart with visuals, the developers found that the project flowedsmoothly when the script was first completed and then decisions weremade about the visual material that accompanied the sound and text.In the final stages of the production, all visual materials and soundwere put into digital format. The development team learned that adigital camera should be used when capturing original recordings ofvideo and sound. The team also learned that when visual material andsound are converted from analog to digital format, it is necessary touse high quality originals.
Obtaining permission to use the artifacts gatheredfor the production was an early step in the production procedure.Permission of all persons involved must be obtained before insertingvisuals and sound in the production. The following hints may behelpful in planning and producing a CD-ROM disc:
1) Complete the instructional system design first.Write the entire sound script. Then follow good design principles forselecting bullets of information and visuals for eachscreen.
2) Prepare a permission form that accompanies allsearches for video and sound segments for the production. Schoolsoften have a form that is sent home at the beginning of the schoolyear to obtain parent or guardian permission to use students'pictures or work.
3) When producing video segments, get help from anexperienced videographer. Use microphones for all speaking parts andeliminate all extraneous background noises.
4) Decide early in the process if the master discwill be recorded in a single session or on a multi-session disc. ACD-RW (CD-Rewritable) disc will allow recording information on thedisc in more than one session.
5) Master a hybrid disc that can be read on aMacintosh or a PC platform.
Review and Suggestions
Sixty pre-service teachers used the CD-ROM as aclass assignment and completed a review by answering the followingfour questions:
- What are the key concepts that you learned from this CD-ROM?
- What did you find most useful/meaningful in this CD-ROM?
- What would make this CD-ROM even more useful/meaningful?
- What ideas or information will you apply?
The preservice teachers were able to discern thetypes of portfolios, identify artifacts and select an organizationalpattern for their portfolios. Items that were most useful ormeaningful to them included organizational tips, detailed visuals andvideo segments, references, and ideas for extra help. One of theideas learned was to avoid using real names except in letters ofrecommendation. They appreciated the opportunity to view aCD-ROM-based portfolio on the CD-ROM disc. Having the opportunity tostudy ancillary materials that accompanied the CD-ROM (such as thetextbook, taped interviews and hard copy portfolios) was a valuablepart of their learning experience.
As is typical of today's viewers who have grownaccustomed to sound bites, the respondents noted that the narrationwas slow in places, a little long and needed to be "jazzed up." Withmore time and money, developers could consider suggestions to add amusical background behind the narration, improve the technicalquality of the video clips, and enhance the interactivity between theviewer and the content. The most prevalent suggestion involved arequest for more artifacts, especially for varied subject areas,including special education. Viewers also asked for more non-examplesand what not to include in their portfolios.
Summary of the Outcomes
In order to gain better self-understanding, aprimary goal of the clinical component of the UNF teacher educationprogram is to help preservice teachers develop professionalportfolios of their work. Following the production of the CD-ROMdisc, the clinical education course instructors used it to providedirection and guidance to preservice teachers as they fulfilled theportfolio requirement of their courses. The CD-ROM disc was used tointroduce them to the portfolio development process and provideconcrete examples for producing their portfolios. As preserviceteachers compiled their portfolios documenting aspects of theirteaching, learning and certain teaching competencies, the CD-ROM dischelped them gain the knowledge and skill required to complete theassignment. After completing the CD-ROM tutorial, the preserviceteachers were able to:
- Distinguish between types of portfolios;
- Organize a professional portfolio according to predetermined standards;
- Identify artifacts that denote accomplishment for teaching standards; and
- Produce a professional portfolio.
Evaluation of the CD-ROM project included anexamination of the quality of the professional portfolios produced bythe preservice teachers. Conferences were also held with preserviceteachers, clinical educators and directing teachers to assess theirexperiences with the CD-ROM disc and the professional portfoliodevelopment process.
Zella Boulware is an Assistant Professor in theDivision of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of NorthFlorida at Jacksonville. She teaches courses in educationaltechnology in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Shereceived her Ed.D. from the University of Central Florida inCurriculum and Instruction with a specialty in InstructionalTechnology.
Dennis Holt is Professor and Chair of the Divisionof Curriculum and Instruction at the University of North Florida atJacksonville. He is actively engaged in the fifth year of Lone Star2000, a project that focuses on the uses of electronic portfolios andtechnology-rich curriculum and instruction to improve teaching andlearning in K-12 professional development classrooms.
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This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1998 issue of THE Journal.