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The question regarding storage and the amount of space required to maintain and retain portfolios is one with which we are all concerned. I hope we can use this space to engage in a discussion of how each of our institutions is grappling with this issue. The following is a list of topics and items we might add to this page:

  • How much estimated space is each institution currently using for Sakai development?
  • How much estimated space is each institution currently using for OSP development specifically?
  • What types of data are OSP users collecting (e.g., forms, attachments, audio/image/video files, text, raw numbers, other types I'm not considering, etc.)?
  • How long do OSP users estimate they may need to retain this data?
  • What sorts of measures are folks taking to create and ensure long-term storage?

At Virginia Tech, as with many institutions, we are currently in the process of generating these types of questions and beginning to work through possible solutions. A conversation about these issues with many institutions could be very valuable for all involved. Please feel free to voice your own questions, concerns, ideas, and suggestions here.

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  1. The School of Education at Syracuse University has been requiring their students to reflect back on their semester and explain their learning through OSP portfolios for about 3 years. A small percentage of the faculty also use Sakai as their course management platform. A significant part of their portfolio has been the collection and display of Word docs and scanned examples of student work from their teaching placements, along with digital images of them "in action" in the classroom. As far as I recall, the default quota for Sakai has been sufficient for students, although the instance has been connected to the university SAN and our policy allows us to increase quotas as needed). Its ironic that the lack of any digital image manipulation tools in Sakai/OSP probably are a self-limiting factor on the amount of space that students actually use in the system. One of the biggest support needs students have when constructing their portfolios is help with resizing, cropping, uploading and embedding photos into their portfolio pages. The time-consuming workflow through the multimedia aspects of the portfolio force students to make decisions about which documents to bother with early on. This can be spun as a wonderful teachable moment (and we do), but if the capabilities of the software enabled students to collect, resize/repurpose images "on the fly", I would anticipate the demand on storage systems would soar...and with good coaching, portfolios would become richer showcases of student accomplishments.

    Although the faculty do not require it, a a couple ambitious students each semester elect to embed video in their portfolios. They have needed some help, so we have had the opportunity to coach them a bit to minimize the size of the videos to fall in line with the quota....maybe with one or two exceptions.

    Since the primary purpose of the portfolio assignment has been to allow the student to demonstrate their own ability to critically reflect and explain their teaching to our faculty reviewers in terms of the school's standards, the portfolio owners have not made a lot of use of the portfolio in other settings. We facilitate those that wish to export their portfolio to a CD to take with them.

    The School of Education still regards the OSP implementation as a pilot, and has made no promises of storage of student's information beyond their stay at the university. However, this has become a rich source of data that the SOE probably would like to keep for program review and accreditation purposes. How and if that will be archived should the pilot cease has not been determined.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Sean. I think our situation at VT is relatively similar. The fact that our eP program is still fairly new, plus the lack of ability to manipulate digital files has kept storage needs pretty low for the time being. That said, we've had some great success incorporating digital videos in a pilot course this past semester, and many teachers and students express desires to incorporate multimedia in their portfolios. Additionally, we'd like to be able to promise students, and departments as well, that they'll be able to keep portfolios, and data collected in portfolios, on our system for as long as they want. The question, of course, is how to make that happen.