Readers afar from Australian shores have most likely seen how we’ve fared as a nation during the COVID pandemic and possibly dubbed us anew ‘the lucky country’. Undoubtedly, we’ve been far, far luckier than most in its impact, yet that doesn’t mean the Higher Education sector hasn’t been beset by uncertainty and disruption. As with the equivalent sectors in the UK and North America, our universities were hit by sudden lockdown and the urgent shift to online learning, and the loss of thousands of international students. In such circumstances, we might have expected to see some hesitancy on the part of universities to invest in a new learning and assessment platform, or for existing customers to hold off introducing new technology into areas scrabbling to translate their courses into a meaningful and effective online context. Instead, we've seen the opposite occur.
Helping educators to scaffold and support students through a wide variety of learning and authentic assessment activities is what PebblePad was built for, and we’ve seen firsthand how PebblePad’s capability has been instrumental for some of our customers in maintaining a student-centred approach even from a distance. Despite – or more accurately, in response to - the difficulties posed by living in a COVID world, we’re seeing an impressive array of new and innovative portfolio practice and use of workbooks to structure and support student connection, learning and feedback. We’re excited by – and more than just a little proud of – the terrific work our partner organisations are undertaking with PebblePad, and for our newest partners eagerly awaiting to see where they’re heading. This post is a brief round-up of what’s happening in the land downunder.
The past six months has been a time of exciting growth in Australia as we have welcomed six new partners to the PebblePad Community: Deakin University, the University of New England, Charles Darwin University, Federation University, the University of Melbourne, and the Department of Education and Training, Victoria. Drawn by the flexibility and affordances of the PebblePad Learning Journey Platform, these organisations have all have chosen PebblePad to enable the delivery of student-centred, scaffolded learning and to enhance student success.
From a focus on graduate employability and digital assessment at Deakin, to a Recognition of Prior Learning process at Charles Darwin, through to portfolios for graduate teachers with the DET in Victoria, the uses for PebblePad are as diverse as the programs and organisations it is being embedded in. It is also fantastic to see increased collaboration across the PebblePad Community with Federation University adopting a workbook and workflow in Child and Family Health Nursing already in use at La Trobe University and RMIT University. This is making it possible for supervisors out in placement sites to assess students from all three universities using the same assessment process; a great outcome for everyone.
Big strides at Deakin
As our newest enterprise customer, Deakin University are moving ahead with their implementation of PebblePad in leaps and bounds. February saw a very successful ‘PebblePad week’, incorporating training sessions and a dynamic ‘show and tell’ panel session in which early adopters shared their successes and plans for furthering their PebblePad use. As the programs that were part of the 2020 trial in the Business School, Social Work, and the Bachelor of IT, are scaling up, new programs are coming on board in Education, Exercise Science, and Environmental Science, with interest from more disciplines expressed for adoption later in the year. It is very exciting to see the diversity of discipline areas engaging with PebblePad, especially those outside of the more ‘typical’ portfolio-based programs such as Nursing and Education.
Existing customers forging ahead
As mentioned in the introduction to this post, at a time of quite significant uncertainty within the Australian Higher Education sector it has also been extremely rewarding to have a number of our existing and longer-term partners renew contracts and scale up use. The capacity of PebblePad to support online and flexible delivery, and to help maintain visibility of learning in real time and keep students connected, definitely contributes to this ongoing commitment to the platform. We continue to see increased collaboration across the PebblePad Community, highlighted by the recent West Australian Teaching Support for Users of PebblePad (WATSUP) user group focusing on Nursing and Midwifery that attracted 40 participants from 5 universities and TAFEs across Perth. We continue to seek out opportunities for further collaboration and community participation as our Australian community grows, and we can’t wait to hear – and share – more stories of success in using PebblePad to support student-centred learning journeys across a range of contexts.
If you’d like to learn more about how PebblePad helps learners navigate, reflect on, and make sense of their curricular, co- and extra-curricular activities on the journey to becoming successful future-ready graduates, our High-Impact Practices guide contains 10 customer success stories.