PebblePad News

If you want to keep up-to-date with our thinking, designing, innovating, cake-eating, and all the brilliant things our customers are doing with our technology, then this is most defnitely the place for you.

 
 
25 Feb
2016

ALT Community Call: John Couperthwaite on making sense of learning analytics

PebblePad Consultant, John Couperthwaite (@johncoup) will be taking part in March's ALT 'Community Call'.

On Thursday March 3rd, he will discuss how generating smart data about our learners is not enough. Smarter tools are required to help them, their tutors, supervisors and careers advisors, make better sense of how the data relates to the individual, including their attitudes to learning, academic accomplishments, life-wide interests and future aspirations. Examples of emerging practice in personal tutoring, research supervision and support employability will be introduced.

Visit the ALT website for deatils on how to get involved with John's session.

01 Feb
2016

Portfolio implementation is all about generating the lightbulb moments that shape a student's future.

Gail Ring, former Director of ePortfolio at Clemson University, and now Implementation Consultant here at PebblePad provides insight on her early ePortfolio adventures, her vision for what the future of portfolio implementation might look like, and why she’s so excited about her PebblePad adventure.

The ePortfolio adventure begins

Let me take you back in time – I’m a graduate student teaching an introductory instructional technology course to preservice teachers. I’m embracing the supposed revolution that is the world-wide-web by asking my students to create their own webpages. My ambition is to help my students explore the benefits the web may offer teachers. Now, fast-forward a couple of semesters, during which time I’ve viewed countless webpages dominated with copyrighted images of Mickey Mouse (this was Florida after all) and I find myself contemplating how this activity will help my students in the future. I conclude that it perhaps won’t, and my advisor and I settle instead on the idea of students maintaining a digital record of their learning in their sophomore year, which they could continue to contribute to throughout their remaining time at the university – and this, quite simply, is how my journey into ePortfolio started.

In many respects, formulating the initial idea was the easy bit; it was the rolling it out to the 200 to 400 students each semester that proved to be the more challenging part. Needless to say, that first semester didn’t go well. My students would arrive at my office, sometimes in tears, explaining that this particular assignment was simply too hard, with most of their questions and struggles relating to the technology; for example why weren’t any of their pictures showing up? Following my encounters with these students, I reflected on the same concerns – was creating an ongoing digital record (ePortfolio) simply too hard?

But we persevered, working through the problems, and by the end of the semester most of the students had an ePortfolio. This in itself was something to get excited about, but not nearly as exciting as what happened next. Some of the students came back to see me, and this time not in tears, in fact, quite the opposite. Students were thanking me for the assignment and going as far to say that it was one of the most meaningful things they’d undertaken in college so far. The students explained that being able to see evidence of what they had learned, and being able to share this with others (including their parents) had proved to be a really rewarding and valuable experience.

I still think back to these early experiences – though adventures might be a more apt description. No student had ever thanked me for an assignment before and it taught me that the things that require effort, which we have to invest time in, and reflect on, are often the most meaningful tasks we undertake. It’s a bit part of why I am still a huge portfolio ambassador and convert some 20 years on from my first adventures.


PebblePad5 portfolio builder
 
Fortunately, portfolio creation is somewhat easier these days. 
As aptly demonstrated here with the PebblePad Portfolio Builder.
 
The power of portfolio.

I’ve always taken great pride in helping students and colleagues pursue what they are passionate about. I suspect this (to use a technology analogy) is an “inbuilt feature” of any educator. And, in a similar way, I’m pretty proud of myself – it wasn’t chance that saw me become the director of ePortfolio at Clemson University, a love and passion for what I did played a significant part in securing that opportunity. And it was an opportunity that often wowed me, sometimes perplexed me, mostly delighted me, and gave me an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things ePortfolio. It is an ambition too great to try and condense that knowledge into this paper; so, for now at least, you’ll have to make do with the top three things I’ve learnt about the power of ePortfolio …

The "ah-ha" moments.

Thanks to ePortfolio implementation I’ve see countless learners have “ah-ha!’ moments where they begin to connect their learning experiences (both curricular and co-curricular) and make meaning from these experiences. 

Levelling  the playing field.

With ePortfolio the transformational moments are not confined to the top performing students, but can also be found within students who would otherwise struggle to find their voice and passion. ePortfolio has enormous potential for improving performance because it can help to level the playing field.

Faculty benefit.

The process of developing an ePortfolio and the conversations and purposeful questions generated as a result help us begin to understand ourselves as learners, and make sense of our experiences. These types of activities prepare us for the increasingly complex and unknown future, and can yield significant benefit for faculty. 

A new adventure.

I suspect there may be a question you have been pondering since reading this section of the paper, and it probably goes something like this – why Gail, after seemingly securing your dream role at Clemson University did you decide to leave and join PebblePad? The answer is a very simple one. I now have a unique opportunity to bring together my experience, my passion, an incredible portfolio technology, and go out and work with leading universities to transform student learning. When you put all of that together it’s easy to see why this new role has the makings of my most exciting adventure to date. Having already worked on PebblePad projects with Spring Arbor University and McMaster University, it’s clear there is huge potential to change the way colleges engage with learners and collect data on learning, both at a student and program level.

The future of portfolio
 

I started this paper by taking you back in time, it therefore seems only right to conclude by painting a picture of what the future might look like. Looking back at my early adventures I can see why I believed there was a technology skill set that students had to gain in order to participate. Now, technology has become ubiquitous, and in some cases invisible, and as a result portfolios can be less about the technology and more about the “making meaning of learning”.
 
However, whilst advances in technology provide greater scope to exploit the “learning benefit” of portfolio, it comes at a time when increasing accountability is placing more pressure on universities. This outcome-driven accountability can sometimes see universities shift the focus of the “meaning-making portfolio” to the less catchy titled – “portfolio as a repository or a container for assessment purposes”. My hope is that in the future we’ll see learning and assessment co-existing more harmoniously. I believe that PebblePad has a critical role to play in realising this future because it supports both the learning process and the learning product – with the latter forming a perfect basis for assessment because the story it tells is so rich. The ePortfolio will become the space through which we create, share, and grow intellectually. In this future the student is creator rather than consumer, and we become a society of knowledge creators and critical thinkers. Of course, the learner will also have at his or her disposal a rich portfolio that can be shared with employers or graduate schools, helping them advance their own adventures with consummate ease.

 

14 Dec
2015

High praise, down-under, for Monash University’s winning entry at annual eLearning Excellence Awards.

Australia, December 2015.

Monash University’s Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences received high praise from the judging panel for its winning entry in the higher education category at the annual eLearning Excellence Awards, hosted by the eLearning Industry Association. The awards, which recognise and applaud the industry’s achievements in innovation and excellence, have become a prestigious annual recognition of innovation and achievement in the eLearning industry. 

The team from Monash University

John McInerney, Lecturer and PebblePad Project Leader (left of picture) and Ruth Druva, Clinical Studies Convenor, both of the Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences with Richard Gijsbers, Exexcutive Officer of the eLearning Industry Association (right of picture).

About the entry

“Moving radiography clinical studies into the digital age.”

 The Monash Bachelor of Radiography and Medical Imaging (Honours) is a 4-year integrated academic and clinical course. In each of the first three years learners undertake two clinical placements, with a six-month placement in the fourth year. Historically, students would receive large paper workbooks containing all placement material; however, this approach proved to be expensive and inflexible, and the team started to consider whether an online approach would be better. After searching the market for robust and flexible tools to manage online submission and assessment, including access for external supervisors, PebblePad was selected as the system of choice and first introduced in 2014.

Students use PebblePad to create dynamic image collections, and maintain personal portfolios to document and showcase their capabilities. The approach has improved collaboration between students, educators and clinical partners, and has allowed tension between theoretical and practical learning to be bridged in an applied practical way.

What the judges had to say about the entry …

"I was very impressed with the strength of reciprocal benefits among learners, teachers and administrators."

"The purchasing process in acquiring learning technology is fraught with the tendency to want all the bells and whistles that are often not fully utilised if at all. This awards submission illustrates how a technology selection process got it right by focusing on outcomes and how these outcomes are properly aligned with technology features and capabilities."

"This is a great example of where going digital not only improves existing processes, and reduces costs, but also leads to a better outcome and tracking. This submission shows how the teams at Monash University and PebblePad delivered an exceptional result."

If you would like to learn more about this project please feel free to get in contact the with the team at Monash University or with PebblePad's Jodie Young:

jodie@pebblepad.com.au
ruth.druva@monash.edu
john.mcinerney@monash.edu

 

23 Nov
2015

PebbleBash’16 – venue and key dates announced.

PebbleBash ’16 will take place on 12th – 14th September 2015 at the University of Wolverhampton’s Telford Campus, the place where PebblePad started life more than a decade ago, when some of our team would have still been at school, HTML5 was the stuff of futuristic movies containing hoverboards, and Shane our CEO was, well, Shane! The evening fun, dinner, and awards will take place at Enginuity at the Ironbridge Museum. Having our fourth global conference at a venue that takes us back to our roots, and at a place renowned for its connection to innovation in industry, seemed like to good an opportunity to pass up.

 To find out more head over to the dedicated PebbleBash site www.pebblebash.co.uk/2016

14 Aug
2015

Portland State University proud to be a PebblePad early adopter.

Portland State University was one of many institutions eagerly awaiting PebblePad’s US launch. It therefore didn’t come as a huge surprise to see the university move quickly to become PebblePad’s first US customer, opting for a four-year institution-wide license. “We are proud to be the first adopters of PebblePad here in America. We are truly excited about a platform that provides so many opportunities to expand our students' learning,” commented Reagan Vincennes, Project Manager, Office of Academic Affairs at PSU.

When asked why PebblePad had come out on top in the university’s comprehensive search for a technology to support its 28,000 users, Reagan further stated: “PebblePad was chosen for its history, reputation, community engagement and its commitment to education. PebblePad, as a product, balances the forward facing professional portfolio with integrated learning and assessment. All in all, we know that our students will have the best product available. And there is something to be said about a product designed for educators by educators. We're delighted to be a part of Team PebblePad."

 

26 May
2015

New US customer puts a spring in PebblePad's step

Spring Arbor University partners with PebblePad to advance personalized, student-centered education

In the US, Spring Arbor University (SAU) has signed a four-year contract to license PebblePad. The new partnership will help the university realize its vision of leading the next generation of online education, where students will be empowered to become knowledge creators, researchers, investigators, problem-solvers and life-long learners.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Spring Arbor University,” said PebblePad’s VP for North American Operations, Holly Lewis. “Since our launch in the US earlier this year we’ve generated huge interest in PebblePad. We want to continue building similarly strong relationships with other forward-thinking US institutions that want to offer students a better, more personalized learning experience.” This is a view echoed by Gary Tucker, SAU Online dean, who commented: “The synergy from the partnership between these two innovative organizations will profoundly advance personalized, student-centered online education.” 

24 Apr
2015

PebblePad Users excel in Australian awards

We are delighted to announce that some of our PebblePad colleagues in Australia have been successful at the recent LearnX Impact Awards.

The LearnX awards are open to any individual, team or organisation from the corporate, education and public service sectors across the world of learning.

Ruth Druva and John McInerney from the department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences at Monash University were finalists for the 'Best New Technology Implementation - eLearning Adopter' category with their entry Embracing the Digital Age in Radiographic Studies.

 Christine Slade and Priscilla Trahar from the Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching at the University of the Sunshine Coast won the Platinum award for the 'Best New Technology Implementation - eLearning widespread adoption' category with their entry PebblePad ePortfolio Implementation.

A massive congratulations from all of us at PebblePad to all involved on submitting such excellent award entries.

02 Apr
2015

Dementia UK chooses PebblePad to support its new Competency Framework

Dementia UK is a national charity, committed to improving quality of life for all people affected by dementia. The charity provides Admiral Nurses - specialist dementia nurses who give expert, practical and emotional care and support. The charity chose PebblePad’s versatile platform to support its new Competency Framework, which will be made available to all staff. The team at PebblePad is thrilled (and more than a little bit proud) to be supporting the charity in its fantastic work. Exciting times!

01 Apr
2015

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust choose PebblePad to support revalidation

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has signed a three-year contract as part of its plans to provide staff with a rolling CPD portfolio. The news is continuing proof that PebblePad is in great shape to meet the needs of the healthcare market. Kathy Westgate, the Trust’s Workforce Development Manager and Project Lead, is excited about how PebblePad will help staff record their training and development in preparation for revalidation, as well as exploring the ways in which it can be used to support Preceptorship. With some staff graduating from the nearby Universities of Bradford and Leeds Beckett, where PebblePad is used on undergraduate programmes, the Trust is delighted with its decision to use the same proven platform to provide staff with a seamless transition from study to career.

13 Mar
2015

Save the date: MiniBash '15 - The UK National Gathering

We are delighted to announce the date for our 2015 PebblePad MiniBash conference in Birmingham.

This year’s programme is very much focussed on looking forward and planning for future success. The day will offer thought-provoking keynotes from guest speakers, the opportunity to network with fellow innovators and PebblePad users, plus the chance to take a closer look at the exciting new “hot off the press” developments from Pebble HQ. We expect you’re already reaching for the diary and so the date you need to save is 16th June 2015. 

Registration for this event will be available shortly and we will advertise this to all our member institutions and through our Community site. 

To see more details and the programme outline click here.

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