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I've played with the demo that Noah set up for me and have taken screenshots w/notes. Some of the notes are for personal use, others are questions to the group.

Please review the notes and make comments on this page.

To refer to a note, please reference the image name and the note number. So for image 2.png, note 3, the format should be: "2.3"

Additional questions

1. What is the reason to allow student to users pick a template?
2. What is the reason to allow student users to select a form within a template?
3. Can forms be edited directly from the view screen?
4. Can forms be switched once content exists?
5. Can a different form be selected from the view screen?

Screenshots w/ notes

The thumbnails are out of order, please refer to the numbers for proper sequence.


  1. 1.1 - See 2.1.

    1.2 - Templated Portfolios can draw from many content sources. A matrix may be one of them. It would be wonderful if the matrix tool was present for matrix developers (instructional designers/faculty) but only exposed to students through the portfolio tool as a "step" encountered when developing a portfolio of a given type. There often is a tight coupling of a portfolio template with a specific matrix.

    2.1 - The portfolio tool makes some attempts at doing "social networking". The "Manage Portfolios" screen is where a user to can view portfolios that they have created (my portfolios) AND portfolios that have been shared with them (other people's/their "friends'" portfolios). Perhaps making that distinction more clear would be helpful. If a portfolio has been shared with them, they may make comments on it. They also may see the comments that others have made about their shared portfolios. "Hiding" portfolios is meant to help the user manage what could be a lot of shared portfolios (you would hide those you don't want to see anymore).

    2.2 - I agree.

    2.3 - If I recall, the tool used to be called "presentations" back in the day...and still has some old school verbage that reflects it.

    2.4 - Maybe if you had a lot of friends sharing their portfolios with you you would need a pager..however, you sure don't need it when there are no portfolios present.

    3.1 - Well, there are schools using it. But I needs a lot of love and the UX is usually a disappointment.

    3.2 - Good point. Step 1 was "select a template" or "decide to make a portfolio free form style". I suppose this is the first step in the template-based process.

    3.3 - I see what you are saying, but I believe that once you have selected a template and started adding content, it may be impossible to come "back" here and pick a different template because each template would likely expect completely different content sources.

    3a.1 - A template can also have a thumbnail that shows what you are going to make...which may be helpful...the rest probably is not useful to a student.

    4.2 & 4.3 - The portfolio title and description does come through in the final XML and MAY be used in the portfolio...but its really up to the template designer if they are relevant to the final product...other than just a handle and description in the portfolio tool. I suppose a user could begin making a portfolio as an experiment, not really sure about what they were making, but the idea is that you would be able to name this thing you were making (i.e. "My resume for Job X") at the start of the process.

    4.4 - A portfolio doesn't have to expire. By default it doesn't..and I haven't heard of many schools talk about using this feature. It probably could use some more explanation and/or be presented on the final step with other "sharing" options.

    4.5 - Commenting is OSP seems to be an afterthought. You can't comment about "this" page of a portfolio. Rather, the comments appear out of context at the bottom of all of the pages and on the portfolio tool itself. It probably isn't a choice that needs to be made up front.

    5.1 - These are the instructions that were added to the "outline options" form. Nothing specific about the tool.

    5.2 - Display names for forms are often annoying. The idea of the display name is to be a recognizable handle for this piece of "reusable" content. However, in this case the content will NEVER be reused, so it is only an annoyance. A custom form renderer could probably hide this field. Perhaps making such a custom form renderer a selectable option would be a nice OOTB feature for a Forms tool feature...or maybe just always hide it here.

    5.3 - A breadcrumb trail or "You are here" message would be nice.

    5.4 - It isn't auto-populated because its just another isn't aware of your personal profile. Again, this is specific to this designer's idea of what should appear on this form...nothing specific about the portfolio tool really. Its interesting to note that the designer believes that there is a difference between how users will want to see their name appear in the tool (their "official" university name) and what is displayed when a user actually views the portfolio. It seems to come up a lot and speaks to the idea of creating an identity. It isn't necessarily inherent in the tool...but I've seen this done a lot.

    5.5 - Again, a design choice for this template. Again, it is interesting that the designer believes that users will want a distinction between the the "title" of the portfolio as it appears in the tool and what the page titles will be when the user actually views the portfolio. Another abstraction layer as we form a picture of a digital identity.

    5.6 - If it isn't obvious yet...this is nothing specific to the portfolio tool, but a feature that probably lets the student select one of 4 stylesheets to "personalize" their portfolio.

    6.1 - Lots of stuff here!

    "Where" you edit the content depends on the type of content. You edit the content of "form items" in resources, or in wizards/matrices that use them. You edit matrices in and wizards in their respective tools and raw files are uploaded through resources. It sure would be nice to be able to start creating a new piece of content here (in the case of forms). However, since this content can be reused in multiple locations, I wonder if allowing a user to edit content (without some versioning) from here might mess up OTHER portfolios that use a piece of content. A "save as" feature might get around it.

    If the content type is a matrix or a wizard, it PROBABLY is supposed to be a SPECIFIC one. It would be nice to be able to jump right into that specific matrix or wizard, make some changes to the content there and then jump back to this screen.

    I think Noah mentioned this on our call that they have a single form that they reuse for each of these pages of content, so each piece of content is of the same "type"...and so it appears repeatedly for each of several of the placeholders.

    Flexibility is the promise and the bane of OSP. The UI is unclear because it isn't designed to support ANY ONE process, but to be a toolkit to build on. The community has been reluctant to zero in on any one direction. However, I think plenty of improvements can be made to address "what is" and still allow it to be flexible.

    I've never heard of an institution exposing students to form or template creation. It is way to technical. But beyond that, these are features that the university wants to use to provide a certain kind of experience for a selected group to support a given (dare I say "enterprise"?) process. To the extent that the community can find overlap in the processes that they would like to see supported OOTB, we could build data structures and streamline the UI to make this easier OOTB. There has to be SOME overlap, if even for the most basic "profile sharing" type of portfolio.

    7.1 - Right...that breadcrumb or a "you are here" indication would be nice.

    7.2 - userid's or email addresses.

    7.3 - These are all AND's. Perhaps a good first cull would be "Is this going to be public?", in which case all the rest is cruft. If the answer is "no, it's not going to be public", then you present questions like "do the people you want to share your portfolio with have accounts in (name of your instance of Sakai)?" "do you know their email addresses?" "are they in one of these sites/groups you are a member of?" would help guide the user.

    7.4 - A cleaner URL? or a cleaner way to guide the use (see 7.3)?

    7.5 - Extending on 7.3 further...the last step of a series of guided questions should be to present an option to send an custom email to a subset of people (or the whole group if desired) on the list of people that have been allowed to view the portfolio.

  2. 1. What is the reason to allow student to users pick a template?

    Different templates are typically designed to support the creation of different types of portfolios. For example, a template might work in conjunction with a wizard to guide a user through the creation of an online resume. A different template might be used to display the contents of a matrix to an panel of evaluators and reviewers to show growth over time.

    2. What is the reason to allow student users to select a form within a template?

    The idea is that you might create different portfolios from the same template with slightly (or radically) different content for different audiences. Since you can author multiple instance of "valid" content through a form, any ONE of them could be dropped into place in a portfolio. Also, a student may want to reuse a previously authored piece of content in multiple portfolios. the classic example is "contact information". If a student moved, it would be trivial to update all of their portfolios with their new address in one fell swoop by updating a single file.

    3. Can forms be edited directly from the view screen?

    What view screen? If you mean "Can a user edit content while viewing their portfolio?" or "Can a user edit content after they click onva form item in resources?" the answer is no. The only way to edit form content is to "edit content" in resources (Actions > Edit content) or to use the form in the context it was deployed (a matrix cell or wizard page).

    4. Can forms be switched once content exists?

    I think you are asking if the schema for a form content can be changed after users have filled it out. It can be changed as long as the new schema doesn't invalidate any existing content. For example, adding a new text field to a form is allowed, but making that field a required field is not, as no existing content would be considered valid.  I stated my ideas in this thread:

    5. Can a different form be selected from the view screen?

    What view screen? If you mean, "Can the portfolio author switch content around while viewing their portfolio?", the answer is no. With the exception of comments, this is a read-only view.

  3. There has been work on this before, which you might want to take into account. First, the overall organization isn't as much of a problem as it sounds. When we construct portfolio sites, we put them first into instructions (which we put as the description and site info). We hide the basic tools such as matrices and wizards. Instead we put the specific wizards and matrix in the left margin using exposed wizards and matrices. Here's what one site looks like:

    It's complex, but the complexity is specified by the users: they have lots of different information that they want to collect. It doesn't have the standard tools such as Matrices. Those are present in the site for the maintainer but they are hidden.

    When building the portfolio, in "page 2 of 3", I'd like to suggest an approach that allows simplicity but doesn't require it. Currently we can "package up" choices by using a completed wizard. Generally the only choices that make sense are file and form. Where we list completed wizards and matrices, there is only one valid choice. I'd like to see those particular items go away, with the system making the obvious choice. At that point if we want a simple portfolio, we can use matrices and completed wizards and page 2 of 3 will have no choices at all, in which case it should go away.

    What we've done for the portfolio whose screenshot is included is provide two different templates: Douglass Portfolio Full and Douglass Portfolio Express. The Express version uses completed wizards. If things were fixed, "page 2 of 3" would go away completely. But a lot of students actually want to choose the items to be presented. They can use the full template. Both use the same XSL, so maintaining the two versions isn't a problem for us.

    1. What is the reason to allow student to users pick a template?

    We may want to provide different versions, as full and express, but possibly also different appearences. I'd argue that if there is just one template, the choice should go away and you should choose it automatically. I believe the option for a user defined portfolio might disappear if there is at least one templated designed. I think it's a useful function, but is just confusing in sites where we are trying to get them to use a template.

    2. What is the reason to allow student users to select a form within a template?

    They want the ability to choose different answers for different audiences. What you want to show your advisor may be very different from what you want to show an employer. Our students see this, and have also asked for the ability to chose specific options from the matrix.

    3. Can forms be edited directly from the view screen?

    One of the big problems with OSP is that in a world where everything is WYSIWYG, OSP isn't. It's hard for students to envision the results. I'd love to see a way to go into a display of the final portfolio and choose things to be edited, thus putting you into the appropriate place in a matrix, wizard or form. However currently the final output is generated by XSLT, which can be quite general-purpose, so there's no way for the system to tell from the final HTML where to go for an edit. But I would guess we could come up with a way to annotate the HTML to point to the way to edit that area.

    4. Can forms be switched once content exists?

    Currently yes, and some people think this is important. I don't feel strongly.

    5. Can a different form be selected from the view screen?

    Not now. I'd like the ability to do this. But see (3)

  4. I'm probably out of turn for the purposes of this exercise, but in my mind the ideal would be:
    1. When clicking on Portfolio in the left menu, you go directly to a view of your portfolio. If you have not started to edit it, it will only have a minimal amount of information in it and will contain guidance (in a greyed out font that would not be shown to anyone but the portfolio owner).
    2. Populating the information would be a question of filling in the blanks (where obvious), overwriting grey guidance where a bit more complicated, and working through an 'overlay' wizard if really complicated.
    3. Information is marked up by the system so templates and themes can be switched on the fly to see the effect. Data is retained and switching templates and themes merely shows different 'views' on an underlying dataset.
    4. Multiple portfolios/presentations is handled via a 'create new' button and it would be easy to switch between views (perhaps via tabs, perhaps via dropdown)
    5. Sharing would work like Google Sites and offer individuals, groups of people, and categories of people (public) that can view the page/portfolio/presentation. It would be nice if this step could check for content not owned by the publisher and prompt for permission checks.

    This does not address administration/setup and it may require Sakai features that don't exist today (I don't know). But if this is an attractive model, I will try to ensure Sakai 3 work supports this concept.

  5. Thanks for the comments folks.

    I'm studying the details Sean and Charles have posted...

    John, Sean has shared similar ideas and in fact has rigged up a form that hints at something like this. I totally agree with the notion. It's hard to know what you're building if you don't have context. So ideally, the process would start the user in a "view" mode, but would have contextual buttons to toggle into an "edit" mode. This would frame where content is going and how one small piece fits into the bigger picture.

    Alas, these paradigms are more 3.0 – and I doubt we'll have much of a chance to make that radical of a change for 2.6. At the moment, we're considering some simple tweaks that will ease some of the pain.