Kim, P. (2004) iReport: A web-based digital portfolio system. In Saito-Abott. Y. (ed.) Digital Stream: Emerging Technologies in Teaching Languages and Cultures. (San Diego, CA: LARC Press), pp. 401-412.

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Dec 8, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

1



Running head: IREPORT: A WEB
-
BASED DIGITAL PORTFOLIO SYSTEM



Published in

Kim, P. (2004) iReport: A web
-
based digital portfolio system.
In Saito
-
Abott. Y.
(ed.)
Digital Stream: Emerging Technologies in Teaching Languages and
Cultures
. (San Diego, CA: LARC Press), pp. 401
-
412.





Teaching Language and Culture through iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System





Paul Kim, Senthil Govindasamy, & Soojin Han

Stanford University

520 Ga
l
vez Mall CERAS 3084

Stanford, CA 94305
-
3084

Tel. 650.723.7729 Fax. 650.723.7578




iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

2


Abstract

iReport is a web
-
based multimedia content management system which was developed
from a cou
rse project at Stanford University’s School of Education. iReport allows
students to easily create, share, and store visual presentations using digital contents
including text, graphical image, sound, and video. This report describes the current uses
of iR
eport as a digital portfolio system in a graduate level course that focuses on writing
across languages and cultures. Also, possible language learning activities developed with
iReport as a rapid web authoring system are described with sample screen shots.
















iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

3


Introduction

The integration of web technologies in the design of computer aided language
learning (CALL) systems has become a widespread practice. In the last few years, the
number of research studies focused on examining the possible educ
ational effects that
web
-
enhanced CALL may offer has grown significantly. Also, with the proliferation of
the use of CALL enhanced with web technologies, there is a s
hift in the design focus of
CALL programs from
standalone application
s, designed for
indiv
idual session
s,

to
community
-
based collaboration systems
,

or project
-
based or problem
-
based learning
environment
s

which are networked and concurrent multi
-
user access
-
based.

Acknowledging the potential and limitations as well as benefits and pitfalls of
cu
rrent web technologies, a multi
-
purpose web
-
based content management system named
iReport has been developed to
:

(
1) promote cross
-
cultural community
-
based learning,
(
2)
enhance digital portfolio
-
integrated assessment, and
(
3) enable rapid development of
l
earning activities.

This paper reports the status of current studies in web
-
enhanced CALL and how
iReport may provide solutions to the challenges and benefits in language education. Both
current uses and possible applications of iReport are also described
in detail through
screen
-
shots.

Status of
Web
-
enhanced

CALL

Web
-
enhanced CALL provides much potential with multimedia
-
rich interactive
learning materials and accessibility through rapidly proliferating high speed Internet
access. Besides the ever growing
general CALL (i.e., non web
-
based) research studies,
the possible uses of the web technologies in language and cultural education have been
iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

4


examined in numerous settings. Not only
has
the number of showcases and experiments
i
n the web
-
based CALL studies

be
en increasing substantially, but also the types of uses
of the web technologies
have expanded

recent years. For example,
Siekmann (1998)
presented
possible uses of a web
-
integrated course management system as a CALL
environment.
McGee

(2001) showed
pedago
gical

methods in integrating the web to
provide cultural context and create a community
-
based learning environment.
Hemard

&

Cushion
(2001) evaluated a web
-
based language learning environment which integrated a
Java
-
enabled authoring mode.

Field (2002),
in his description of the trends of information technology in
language education, states that t
he use of web
-
based
applications

continues to be
dominated by proponents who report that such tools enhance language
-
based and
content
-
based instruction by exten
ding opportunities for learning out of the classroom

and
facilitate the building of both local and international communities that promote cross
-
cultural understanding.

However, as much as there is excitement and appeal with web
-
based CALL, there
are also p
itfalls and drawbacks with web
-
based CALL in terms of creating and accessing
the web
-
based CALL contents. As
Morrison

(2002) points out, t
he experience of putting
together web
-
based contents for a simple learning activity could be quite time
-
consuming
or
even challenging for
m
any teachers of today.
To compound the problem,
it is not
always simple to prepare digital media for various idiosyncratic operating systems or web
browser requirements.

iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

5


In the following sections of this paper, a newly developed web
-
b
ased learning
system, iReport, will be presented in terms of how it may be used to overcome current
challenges and
possibly
create new opportunities for language and culture education.

History of iReport

In 2002, as part of a course project at Stanford Uni
versity’s School of Education,
the idea of developing a multi
-
purpose web
-
based content management system was
conceived
,

acknowledging the potential and limitations of current web technologies. The
initial design philosophy was to develop a platform
-
indepe
ndent web
-
based system that
did not require much

training
or a complicated set up of browser plug
-
ins in order to
build, share, and archive web
-
based contents. After several phases of development,
iReport has become a Java
-
based authoring tool which can ru
n on most operating systems
that support Java. Since iReport is a web
-
integrated system, uploading
a g
raphical image
or video file to use in the authoring process is all done within a web browser without
external applications, such

as
a file transfer util
ity.

Thus, a user does not deal with
HTML or any coding
-
based authoring process.
Use of visual mapping as a way to
organize digital materials (i.e., instead of using a hierarchical directory structure) makes
it possible to store, access, or present multim
edia contents in a visually meaningful and
intuitive fashion.

Being able to author or share contents
both synchronously and
asynchronously
with others
through the web
helps to promote collaboration and visual
communication over the web.


When the first be
ta version of iReport was tested in a medical school to create
problem
-
based learning cases, it was far from being a learning tool or possibly a CALL
system. It was merely a web
-
based file storage and image presentation tool because of its
iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

6


concept map
-
base
d file management interface. However, its ease of use in combining
video and sound materials along with text and graphical images over the web quickly
attracted colleagues who were in language and culture education, especially those
searching for a digital

portfolio system.

Using iReport as a digital portfolio

The idea of integrating a portfolio in language education as an alternative or
supplementary assessment tool in addition to traditional criterion
-
based tests has been
examined by many researchers (
Bar
ootchi

&

Keshavarz
, 2002; Gomez, 2000; Hancock,
1994; Farr, 1991). In this regards, what iReport has provided to a graduate level writing
class at Stanford was a working portfolio space where students could develop and share a
series of multimedia present
ations. Students combined multimedia materials (e.g.,
graphical images of artifacts or video of cultural ceremonies) to stimulate discussions and
express their ideas in visually meaningful formats. In addition, they shared the
ir work

over the we
b with thei
r colleagues at

convenient time
s

and location
s
. iReport was
adopted not only to bring more cultural awareness among the students, but also to
provide opportunities for students to express their own ideas about cultural differences
and similarities.





iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

7


Fi
gure 1. iReport as a portfolio template


Figure 1 shows how one can access iReport through a web browser and put
together multimedia objects on a working space. Creating a template and attaching
multimedia files to the objects to create a visual map is mos
tly a drag & drop process.
One can create multiple templates or visual maps with multimedia files and archive the
entire contents in a relational database for later retrieval or sharing purposes.

The integration of web construction activity in various lear
ning situations is
hardly new, and when coupled with good instructional methods, the construction of web
pages as a final project or portfolio often leads to a positive learning experience and even
great student achievement (Geer, 2001). In terms of using
iReport as a web construction
experience, several students at Stanford who
participated in
the
pilot tests with iReport

iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

8


provided interesting feedback. Zoss (M.A. student in the “
Writing Across Languages and
Cultures
” class) stated that:

As a space for reco
rding my learning for this class, iReport has

proven to be an
interesting and exciting tool. I am a teacher of art and

English and I am inclined to
include images with all of my writing, so

this tool gives me an easily accessible
forum for combining these
two

interests. The projects that I am involved in for the
class include a

"portrait" of myself as a writer and a final project

illustrating a
synthesis of the course material. This final project is

meant to be a way for me to
not only represent what I have

learned in the

course, but also a way for me to
translate that into something that other

writing teachers might use. The application
seems to be quite user friendly. And I think that the

concept mapping function is
intriguing as a teaching tool, and one t
hat I

would like to use with high school
students in both small groups and

individual settings. The most valuable facet of
this application is the capability of bringing

together verbal text with visual and
audio
materials
. Having the tools to

create the m
aps without
requiring

extra
knowledge of Javascript or

HTML makes the construction simple and
unencumbered. iReport, for me, then, becomes a place to

bring everything
together all at once.

Also, the experience of sharing cultural context through graphical

images and
videos at a convenient location and time seems to provide more opportunities for students
to examine materials and easily provide feedback to each other’s work.
Han (M.A.
student in “
Writing Across Languages and Cultures
” class)
ex
plains

her ex
perience
with
iReport
as follows:

iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

9


i
Report is a sort of extension program. Students can keep in touch with iReport
after the class, anytime, whenever they want, and in a more relaxed situation.

i
Report provides a variety of materials, such as
v
ideo

clips,
sound, pictures and
writings. It results in grasping stude
n
ts' attention very easily.

Figure 2. Sample visual presentation on cultural images developed with iReport.








iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

10



Figure 3
. Sample visual presentation on cultural images developed with iReport.


Figure
s

2

& 3 show examples of student work involving

transferring image
s from
a desktop computer to

iReport and putting together images to create web
-
page
-
like
presentations on cultural images.


With iReport, students can create a visual presentation inco
rporating multimedia
and generate a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The URLs of multiple maps can be
linked to conventional web pages or shared with others via email. Viewers of iReport
presentations can not only examine these, but also modify the contents

or exchange
messages or feedback over the web. In iReport, all presentations and multimedia
iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

11


materials are sharable via author
-
assigned levels of permission (i.e., view only, modify
and take ownership, etc.)


iReport has a feature to transfer any visual pr
esentation to another student in
iReport system or generate a screen shot in a common gra
phics format, such as JPEG
. In
addition, students can construct visual presentations or share multimedia contents
synchronously using iReport’s web
-
casting feature. Fo
r example, a group of students can
collaborate in putt
ing together multimedia content

synchronously at different locations as
long as each participant has access to the Internet and a browser.

Figure 4. Sample of iReport using concept map feature.


Figure

4. shows a student’s work expressing her own identity with graphical
images and visual expressions using nodes and connectors. iReport not only enables
iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

12


students to create semantic networks using nodes and connectors, but also allows the
integration of var
ious supporting multimedia materials in their visual map expressions. In
regards to the multifaceted aspect of iReport and its authoring capability to combine ideas
and multimedia materials for creative visual expressions, Mahlstedt

(M.A. student in the

W
riting Across Languages and Cultures
” class) stated that:

My first thoughts were rooted in the wide
-
range of media through which one
can
express onesel
f

with i
R
eport. So much of what we have focused on has to do
with the importance of an individual reachi
ng deep within to find his or her own
voice with which to write, think, speak, and express. iReport allows us to express
that voice in multiple forms, even our own recorded voice. Music, photos or art,
and text...whatever expression the web artist feels
most accurately portraits
themselves at the moment.

Boulon
(2002) a
rgue
s

that

multimedia

authoring systems can be a great advantage
for teachers concerned with tools created specifically for their learners. iReport offers a
digital

portfolio
space where te
achers and students can easily develop, share, and archive
multimedia contents that

can be discussed and assessed at the end of course.

Using iReport as an activity development tool

As Morrison (2002) points out, many teachers often find the web page publ
ishing
process quite challenging and sometimes impossible if the teacher needs to master a
programming or authoring language or different file formats or plug
-
ins. Furthermore, as
Cuban (1999) points out, no matter how great the advantages certain technolo
gies may
offer, teachers often do not use innovative technologies because of their lack of time to
learn and prepare. Although there is still a long way to go, iReport suggests some
iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

13


resolutions to the list of problems that teachers often face. For example,

iReport does not
require anyone to master HTML or to have knowledge of web publishing or the file
transfer process. iReport enables a rapid development of learning activity. iReport stores
all digital objects, as well as all presentations, in a relational

database for easy search and
retrieval. It makes it possible to share or transfer the ownership of the materials along
with feedback over the web both asynchronously and synchronously.

iReport was developed to promote rapid development of learning activi
ties
incorporating digital materials. Once sounds, videos, and images are brought into
iReport, using them to create various learning activities is relatively easy compared to
conventional methods employed in web
-
based learning applications.

Figure 5. Samp
le learning activity using video and images.


iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

14


In Figure 5, the teacher describes

a learning activity, attach
es

a video (i.e., video
of traditional wedding ceremony), and provide
s

various images in the image library of
iReport. Students then lo
g
in to thei
r individual accounts in iReport and engage in this
activity. In this type of activity, the student watches videos, finds all relevant images
from the image library, and attaches the selected images to the node specified by the
teacher. The process of putt
ing together this type of activity, assuming all the images and
videos are already in iReport, takes only a minute. This type of activity, if coupled with
effective instructional methods, could help students become more familiar with the target
language a
nd culture. Also, the materials on iReport can be shared to stimulate
discussions in or out of the classroom. Students can also add their feedback in nodes and
attach supporting materials to the teacher’s version of presentation.













iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

15


Figure 6. Samp
le learning activity using sound files and letter images


In Figure 5, the teacher put together sound files pronouncing words. This activity
gives students a chance to listen to the sound as many times as needed and put together
words corresponding to the

pronunciation heard in the sound file. The iReport image
library contains all the images of the letters for students to put together multiple words.
For advanced learners, the teacher may use sound files that read sentences or paragraphs.
This way, studen
ts can type the sentences, save their work along with their feedback, and
ask for the teacher’s feedback. The teacher can also monitor the process in real
-
time as
students put together their work.



iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

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Figure 7. Sample learning activity using sound files and
graphical images


In Figure 7, the teacher put together a story which included several storylines
along with images depicting a part of the story. Students are then asked to listen to each
storyline, match the storyline with a corresponding image, and arr
ange the storyline in the
right order, to create a story in a logical fashion. This type of activity could be developed
for any language education session as long as the teacher can either produce or find
recorded voice of a story and corresponding images.





iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

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Figure 8. Sample learning activity using images and voice recorder



In Figure 8, the teacher put together graphical images that present cultural events
and traditional activities so that students can verbally explain the significance of the
events o
r activities in the target language. Students can participate in this simple activity
by recording their verbal explanations and attaching their sound files to the activity map.
Students could also be asked to provide their explanation in written form.


In

this section of the paper, various sample learning activities were presented.
iReport is flexible and easy enough for teachers to be creative and innovative with web
-
based technologies and digital materials. iReport may not be useful for all language and
culture education programs, but iReport could be at least a supplementary instructional
tool or digital portfolio system.

iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

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Discussion

iReport is still in its infant stages and requires much more work to be a

robust

system. At the same time, fast internet ac
cess and
a
relatively high
-
powered computer are
required to best utilize iReport.

The

pilot tests condu
cted so far have produced very

positive feedback and
comments
.

Besides possible educational merits one may find from iReport, the use of
web technologies

and useful multimedia materials in iReport seem to help produce
positive

effects on student attendance and attitudes. Also, participants of iReport pilot
-
tests have indicated that iReport is a provocative and stimulating digital learning space
for student
s to enjoy expressing the
ir ideas

with multimedia materials. For teachers,
iReport is a rapid authoring tool that does not require much learning of the authoring
process or knowledge of technologies.

With the rapid proliferation of high speed Internet acc
ess and evolving web
technologies, there will be continuous efforts in research and development of web
-
enhanced CALL. iReport, as a web
-
enhanced collaborative learning tool, seems to
suggests an innovative use of technology in language and culture educatio
n.






iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

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References

Barootchi,
N

&

Keshavarz,
M. H.


(2002).
Assessment of achievement through
portfolios and teacher
-
made tests
.

Educational Research

Vol 44(3).

Boulon, Joline


(2002).
Narcy's learning stages as the base for creating
multimedia modules fo
r L2 acquisition.

ReCALL: Journal of Eurocall.

Vol 14(1), 109
-
119.

Cuban, L. (1999). The technology puzzles.
Education Week
, 18(43).

Farr, R. (1991).
Portfolios
:
Assessment

in
Language

Arts.
ERIC Digest.

ED334603.

Field, M.H. (2002).
Trends for IT in language education
,
Forum
,

Vol.17. (in print)

Geer, G. C. (2001).
Students constructing Web pages: Does it affect educational
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Dissertation Abstr
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Vol 61(7
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ED447725.

Hancock, C. R. (1994).
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Hemard, D
.

&
Cushion,
S.

(2001)
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based language learning
environment: The importance of a user
-
centred design approach for

CALL.

ReCALL:
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Vol 13(1)
, 15
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iReport: A Web
-
based Digital Portfolio System

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McGee, L. (2001). Building Community and Posing Projects: Creating "Student
Pages" in Web
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based and Web
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Enhanced Courses.
Foreign Language Annals
, v34 n6
p534
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49

Morrison, S. (2002).
Interactive Language Learning on the Web. [On
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Available:

http://www.cal.org/ericcll/digest/0212morrison.html


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