ePortfolio public pilot starts today

After months of secrecy we finally announced today. The Yacapaca ePortfolio is now into public pilot. It’s a good thing I was working from home today because I was leaping around like a mad thing after I sent the announcement email to the Yacapaca mailing list. As much as anything, it’s a relief to have finally put it out there where you can play with it and see if it meets your needs.

Some more on the theory later, but meanwhile, here’s the official release:

The Yacapaca ePortfolio is the most practical system for:

  • DiDA ePortfolio
  • GCSE in Applied Business courswork portfolio
  • coursework portfolios in other courses
  • short text answer questionnaires
  • complete website creation

Here are the essential features:

  • each ePortfolio comprises several ‘Cards’; think of them as file cards.
  • a Card may be blank, or may have a question on it.
  • on each Card, students can
    • upload a file
    • enter text (e.g. file description; answer to question)
    • style their text using HTML
  • as teacher, you can add comments to each card at any time.
  • completed ePortfolios can be saved to CD-ROM as standalone websites.

As a teacher you can

  • assign pre-created ePortfolio tasks
  • create your own tasks

From today, the ePortfolio pilot programme is open to all Yacapaca members. We are not charging for use of the system this term – final pricing has not yet been decided, but in the Chalkface tradition it will be astonishingly good value.

Of course we would be delighted to hear your feedback and feature requests.

Login to Yacapaca ePortfolio

Get a free account at Yacapaca

Read the ePortfolio manual

Click to enlarge

Students setting their own assessment targets

I’m very happy today because for once I have an easy-to-explain new feature to introduce: self-set targets.

The mechanism is very simple. Students set themselves a percentage target at the beginning of each test. At the end, the target is re-shown together with the result. The reward (in the example below, the avatar’s victory dance) is triggered by achieving the target.

The target is not recorded, quite deliberately. This is a tool for students to use (or not) for themselves, as part of taking responsibility for their own learning. There is anecdotal evidence that students will set themselves higher targets, and be more motivated by them, if they know the teacher will not see them.

We are rolling the self-set target feature out across our most popular test templates during this week, starting with the Avatar version.



Has Chalkface fallen victim to your spam filter?

A lost-confirmation complaint prompted me to research how good different ISPs are at delivering email.

I looked at the number of failed signups to Yacapaca, and compared them against successful signups. Here are the results for the big ISPs:

  • AOL.com 33%
  • Yahoo.co.uk 24%
  • Hotmail.com 23%
  • Tiscali.co.uk 20%
  • Yahoo.com 17%
  • BTinternet.com 17%
  • Hotmail.co.uk 10%

So, what’s going on? Those percentages must include some people who mistyped their emails and others who simply lost interest – but 33%? I don’t think so.

I am pretty sure the problem is overly-aggressive spam filters. The ISPs are busting a gut to deal with the torrent of spam that is swamping them at the moment. In the absence of good long-term solutions, they are increasingly filtering out anything from sources not already known to you.

I have asked our software team to investigate all possible solutions. Meanwhile, it might behove you to check your Junk Mail folder once in a while. After all, where there’s muck, there’s brass.

Horndean Technology College visit

Just after half term I had great pleasure of visiting three schools in the South West. Ostensibly, I was escorting my colleague Victoria Yegorenkova during her induction training, but it was a great excuse to get in some classroom observation and meet several teachers I knew previously only by reputation.

First up was Horndean TC. Horndean are using both Paperless School and Yacapaca, so it was a good chance to compare the two systems.

Highlights of the visit for me:

  • Sarah Wood’s classroom. All four walls and even the ceiling were covered in stimulus material.
  • The high-energy intensity of Sarah’s lessons, and the enthusiasm with which her students moved from task to task.
  • Patrick Sheppard’s creative use of a Yacapaca test as a whiteboard tool. We had designed the test as an individual learning tool and it wasn’t completely legible from the back of the room, but nonetheless it made a great exercise for a closing plenary.

My thanks to Sarah and Patrick for an absolutely fascinating visit.