• New kid on the PebblePad block, Kenny Nicholl, talks turbo-charging, bridging gaps and the journey ahead.

    by Kenny Nicholl


New kid on the PebblePad block, Kenny Nicholl, talks turbo-charging, bridging gaps and the journey ahead.

~ Platform and Philosophy ~

NOVEMBER 19th 2020· by Kenny Nicholl



I've been a bonafide PebblePaddler now for just nine weeks, but my new colleagues and peers have told me it feels like I've been around for much longer. Now, I'm taking that as a resoundingly positive endorsement of my seamless integration into the PebblePad culture, and not a sign that my colleagues are left thinking - he surely can't have asked that many questions in only nine weeks! Other PebblePaddlers have been kind enough to say that I seem like a great fit for my new professional home. And I think that's why, in some ways, I don't feel like the new kid on the PebblePad block - I've joined an incredible company with a people first culture which genuinely feels like home. When you join a business as CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) and you are introduced to the global team by its Founder and CEO as the 'new crow', you know you've joined a culture with the right mix of the personal and the professional. I'm just left hoping that the reference to me as 'the crow' was because of my intelligence and adaptability, and nothing to do with a harsh Scottish "caw". Time will tell!

And now I find myself penning my first official PebblePad blog post. How do I sum up a whirlwind nine weeks and a period of onboarding and learning during one of the most challenging times that any of us have probably faced? How do I also provide even a little insight on what I see the journey ahead looking like? I toyed with various ways to approach this and concluded that perhaps the best way to reflect on my journey so far and look ahead to the future is to dissect elements of PebblePad itself - kind of the what and the why so to speak. Here goes ...

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PebblePad's Learning Journey Platform bridges the reflective and experiential learning and authentic assessment gaps that other platforms simply can't bridge, and goes some way to explaining why PebblePad is increasingly being viewed as a core component of the university digital learning ecosystem.


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Even before the pandemic, with students still on campus or on placement in the workplace, it was clear that the global higher education community was placing increasing importance on student and learner success. For those of you who know me well, you will know just how passionate I am about this subject. What's been the missing link for me, however, is how to scaffold learning and guide students through their entire learning journeys, and look for ways to authentically bridge the experiential learning gaps that other technologies just can't reach. For me, having admired PebblePad from afar, and having now seen it up close and personal, there can be no doubt that it's uniquely positioned to bridge the 'must-bridge' gaps in the university digital learning ecosystem. Gaps which have been amplified by COVID, and which will surely continue to be a top strategic priority as universities look to dramatically increase and improve their support and scaffolding of the learning and wellbeing of students from afar.

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While many higher education stakeholders look to PebblePad to support portfolio initiatives, the PebblePad of today extends far beyond just the portfolio and provides unparalleled tools for managing complex learning and assessment and scaffolded development across the entire learning journey.

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One thing I knew before joining the team, is that PebblePad's eportfolio offering is right up there with the best in the industry. And eportfolio, together with helping universities scaffold student-centred learning and supporting authentic assessment,  are areas that we have every intention of continuing to be trailblazers in. But, for me, one of my key takeaways from my first weeks with PebblePad is the scale of use of PebblePad in areas way beyond just the portfolio; areas where scaffolded development, ongoing mentoring, and work-based learning all form vital components of the student experience - Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery, Teacher Education, and institution-wide tutoring, mentoring and employability initiatives. I count myself truly lucky and privileged to have joined a company with a platform that offers tools that support these kinds of student-centred, authentic learning experiences.

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Our global team, made up of subject matter experts, reflects a commitment to pedagogical excellence which extends far beyond our remit as an award-winning SaaS provider, and our track record of consistently delivering exceptional customer service has resulted in an enviable number of outstanding examples of trailblazing (and award-winning) educational practice in the HE market.

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I'm going to start bringing my inaugural blog post to a close now. And what better way to conclude than talking about what I can now proudly describe as our people and our partners. For someone who thrives on being the enabler of growth, I cannot begin to explain how humbled I feel to be joining PebblePad at this point in its journey. A company committed to developing its people and product to help educational trailblazers support authentic, student-centred learning journeys by allowing them to do things they simply wouldn't otherwise be able to do. 

While the PebblePad journey started back in the early days of 2004, the founding principles of the company hold today - to help students plan for, reflect on, and evidence and make sense of their life-wide and lifelong learning journeys for success in an ever-changing world. In many respects, even with me on board, it will be more of the same – building on the awareness and momentum we have, while staying true to our philosophy and values. My role here is to be the enabler and facilitator of growth - of our business, our people and our global communities, whether that be in terms of the size of our communities, their depth of adoption of PebblePad and solving even more interesting problems through their use of PebblePad. I also want to help 'turbo-charge' the product and wherever I can help the already capable PebblePad teams flourish to benefit the PebblePad and wider education community. So, spoken in the words of a true PebblePaddler as I look to what the future holds for our team, our customers and our product, the answer is simple – much, much more pebblegogical goodness. If you'd like to learn more about what this pebblegogical goodness looks like, I'd highly recommend downloading the publications below. 

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Image shows a snapshot of the PebblePad Learning Journey publication


Image shows a snapshot of the PebblePad Global Ambitions in Higher Education publication 


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With over 20 years' experience supporting education organisations across the globe, Kenny joined the PebblePad executive team after successfully helping both Hobsons and Instructure grow into leading education technology organisations in Europe and further afield. Kenny is "into" growth in a big way, playing a crucial role in the growth and development of the PebblePad people and our reputation as a core technology in the Higher Education space. Since Kenny is also a big fan of great chocolate cake, he keeps his own "personal growth" in check by regularly spinning on his training bike. Kenny's other passions in life include his two young boys and his eclectic music collection.