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uSpace

Started by Amy McCauley 22 Mar 2014 4:43pm () Replies (9)

We are currently looking into ePortfolios for our students and had the suggestion of using uSpace, part of Ultranet. What have people's experiences of this been? What does your school use for their ePortfolios? Thanks :)

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  • Abbie (View all users posts) 22 Mar 2014 6:05pm ()

    We began using Ultranet at our school last year. The folio tasks are a great tool for e-portfolio tasks. In the juniors we are using the media gallery as the e-portfolio. 

    There have been a lot of teacher frustrations over the site, particularly due to our internet speed and some of the more technical aspects of it. 

    I think it is a great tool, and am currently considering the value of moving to blogger etc style e-portfolios because they are easier to manage (although this is not currently in our school's plans). 

     

    The folio tasks offer a lot of opportunities and I have found these particularly useful (for my extension group), and there is huge potential for these as a learning tool and as an eportfolio tool - quite manageable. 

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 22 Mar 2014 8:12pm ()

    Hi, I haven't used Ultranet but one of the things I would consider when chosing an eportfolio is will the students have access to it when they leave your school?  If another school does not have Ultranet, can it be exported into another platform?  Hope this helps you make your decision.  I believe that a student should be able to keep their own eportfolios as they move through education.

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 22 Mar 2014 8:17pm ()

    I would also recommend you have a read of this excellent resource from the MOE - Digital Portfolios - guidelines for beginners.

  • KathC (View all users posts) 22 Mar 2014 11:33pm ()

    I used Ultranet uspace for eportfolios for 3 years. I initially liked it for the task setting and monitoring aspects, and that it was closed off, eg password only access So safe for our young children. It was a little technical at first but once used to the system it got easier. And it was fully exportable at the end of the year, so we could take it off onto cd. The downfalls for me were that we had an awful time getting the parent portal working, so parents access was limited, updates were quite slow, and in the last year when we exported the blogs lots of the images didnt save which was disappointing.

    Hence we have made the move to using blogs this year. We have signed onto google apps for education (free) and are using blogger for the eportfolios with our year 5/6 classes and one yr 3/4 class. It has been a bit of work to get everything set up and running, but is looking good so far. We are also paying for teacher dashboard to help manage all the blogs and student accounts In one place. Well worth the $4 a student. And a few thousand dollars cheaper than Ultranet.

    And number one, the parents, families etc have easy access, which is the whole point. To enable families to take a more active role in their child's learning. 

    My advice-  start with with your priorities eg is it a private locked down system your families will want, or will they want ease of access, do you want children to take eportfolio as they leave school or not, will children be arranging their own uploads, or do you want the ability to send out a formatted task page to all to guide them. Once you know what your must haves are you can look more into the different options.You have lots of decisions to make.

    Good luck with your journey.

  • Anne Cato (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 11:29am ()

    Fully endorse what KathC posted. We have moved from KnowledgeNET to Google Apps and although in the early stages of using this with students my feedback would be the same as KathC. I wouldn't want to be using Google Apps for Education account with classes of students without having the Teacher Dashboard - so well worth $4 a user a year to have this. Support from Hapara and Google has also been fantastic. Suggest it is worthwhile having a trial group/class first ( we did this last year) before you sign up all your students. We have all Year 3/4 on this year.

  • sandrafraser (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 8:40am ()

    We used Ultranet for a few years but  last year was our last year with it.  Most of us found it difficult to navigate around it due to technical aspects of it.  This year we are using Schoology as a communication tool and openschooleportfolio for eportfolios.  As this is our first year with both I am still finding my way around them both but I definetly find them easier than Ultranet to use.  Comments from staff have been very encouraging though.

  • Angela Sime (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 2:14pm ()

    Hi AmySmile

    We use Ultranet at Stanmore Bay School, we use both the website feature, plus Ultranet and Uspace.  Its a nice looking system, and has heaps of features which not all of our staff take full advantage of.  We also have access to the Ultranet app, which makes uploading of movies/pics/audio really quick and easy, although you are limited with the size of file you put up.  Unfortunately, you do have to have a certain amount of IT ability to work easily with it.  Some of our staff members who are not IT inclinced have found it difficult to relate to, which makes it hard for them to come onboard for it.  We have had problems with parent portal, in the fact we can't use it at all because Ultranet does not support musac edge.  I have used Uspace with my year 3/4/5 classes over the last four years.  every year it has evolved somewhat and becomes bigger.  Aside from storing digital/audio media to share, as previously mentioned you can also set tasks - we formed some Maths tasks around National Standards last year and included them in the eportfoliois.  Its very private and secure, stored offsite, and because you pay megabucks for it, has a great help desk, who really want to see you make the most of their product.  Most of the children I have taught have picked up the programme very quickly, and they love the fact they can have 'buddies' and liken it to 'facebook for kids'.  As most kids do, they were able to remember the upload steps from the app and webpage much quicker than I could!  

    Ang

  • Cyndi Kruijer (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 2:56pm ()

    After using Google blogger and looking at the admin and safety aspects our school moved to Ultranet after some research.   This is a Learning Management System that supports the admin considerations and safety aspects within a large Primary School.

    Looking outside the technical issues etc, any system has technical considerations and for a Primary school this is a fantastic platform where teachers and students can use and learn how to use an online environment within a safe arena as mentioned pages can be set to Public or Private.  It is getting to know the programme you are using and identifying the purpose and what you want to achieve.   The Ultranet team are supportive and the helpline is fantastic. A PL session with them might help to understand how to get the best out of the package. 

    Embed Blogger or Wordpress into the classpages is a great way to share cohort learning, see this eg http://www.queenstown.school.nz/ClassSpace/2334/.  Currently working with another teacher to embed Wordpress or Blogger into each child's USpace, 'About Me', our classrooms onlly to trial.  Once these have been embed they won't get lost with the teacher who had made them or become someone's job and they will stay within that child's USpace.  Doing this as it gives the children another option for sharing their learning but is within the Ultranet arena.  Some creative thinking to meet diverse needs is possible and the sites capabilities are not limiting.

    USpace can be transfered when the child leaves as the ePortfolio can be exported by the parents or child onto a USB memory stick or onto their computer and the 'blog' in Wordpress or Blogger has a link.   As a Primary Teacher, with admin and tech considerations, I like it a lot!  Wink

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