Planning to succeed with a personal account

by John Couperthwaite


Planning to succeed with a personal account

~ PebblePad Personal Accounts ~

FEBRUARY 3rd 2016· by John Couperthwaite


I am sure it is a familiar feeling. It is that post-holiday period following Christmas and Summer holidays, when beautifully devised plans developed over long journeys or during a meal face the harsh reality of other, competing commitments, including family, friends, home and other hobbies. My latest is a commitment to learn Spanish through daily learning activities delivered from a lovely free app, called Duolingo. So far, so good. But, with only one weeks since returning, my activity chart is already beginning to nose-dive and resemble the share price of Tesco plc. I have other guilty recollections of an aborted novel, fabulous DIY projects, more time sailing… even rediscovering a six-pack!

So what am I doing wrong? How can I make more realistic goals and reach them?

insert new block here

This cartoon highlights a problem many of us have with planning for the future. It illustrates how we often believe that defining the finishing point, the goal, is sufficient. We anticipate a small, but gentle, gradient of effort. We tell ourselves that ‘nothing is easy’, but don’t not want to believe that it will demand serious commitment. In reality, ‘The Universe’s plans for you’ depicts how obstacles, shortcuts, and risky alternatives lie ahead, possibly in the form of unanticipated activities, deadline clashes with other scheduled activities, and other personal and professional commitments. So how can we plan better?

If, like me, you are not only a serial offender, but occasionally juggling multiple hobbies, interests, and courses, with professional development, it can all get rather messy. Many of us use paper journals to plan out our day or week. These serve as useful tools to prevent ourselves from being steered off course, but result in numerous booklets which are rarely referred to again. Online tools, such as Evernote, Trello, and a million other apps, now serve a similar purpose, with the added benefit of personal reminders, searchability and 24-7 availability. However, very few online tools can offer these benefits, whilst also providing self-assessment, peer review, flexible design tools, integration with cloud storage, and offline capture

PebblePad offer both institutional and personal accounts. Institutional accounts are available to education- and healthcare-providers, public bodies and businesses to support the recording, evidencing and collation of skills, reflections and competencies amongst learners and employees. However, Personal accounts are available to anybody to purchase and are available for life to all higher education alumni. They offer similar tools for creating personal portfolios, designing self-assessment forms, and managing one’s own professional development.

insert new block here

How can a PebblePad personal account help us mange our lives?

I recently interviewed a new school teacher, Lucy Stone, who was close to completing her first full year teaching in secondary education. Lucy had chosen to use PebblePad to help in her transition into mainstream teaching, and also with the management of her daily tasks, such as creating lesson plans and designing learning activities. Lucy had used PebblePad in her previous employment, but had chosen to purchase a personal licence as she knew that it could support a multitude of her development goals.


insert new block here

Here are five examples of how a Personal account can support personal and professional development:

1. Self-evaluation, or where am I now? - users are able to create their own self-assessment forms and repeatedly evaluate themselves, using rating scales, open and closed questions, and prompts for the addition of supporting evidence. These can be stored for personal planning and reflection, or shared with friends of colleagues.

2. Target setting, or where do I want to be? - the use of self-assessment forms, personal reflections and peer feedback can help the user create realistic targets. Available forms, such as the ‘What, so what, now what’ reflection form, is an ideal way to begin target setting.

3. Action Planning, or how will I get there? - the Action Plan form includes pre-defined questions designed to promote deeper thinking into how to achieve a personal goal. It includes: Current Situation, Steps to Success (What, How, When) - as many as you require, a SWOT analysis and Resources required.

4. Action and Practice, or how am I doing? - regular updating of progress and reflection on next steps helps prevent by-pass obstacles and prevent delays. The new offline mobile app, Pocket, allows users to post updates on progress from wherever, whenever. All entries can be collated into an Activity log, with total time spent calculated, or added as evidence into a task Journal.

5. Reflection, or how well did I do? - we strongly believe that reflection at all stages helps improve personal and professional development. Each of the forms include reflective questions, but additional pre-built forms are available for focused analysis of an issue.

insert new block here
insert new block here

To illustrate these, Lucy has shared several examples from her own practice as a teacher. These are a collection of her lesson plans (Action Planning), a summary of her project activities (Action and Practice), and a personal Blog of her progress (Reflection), Her self-assessment form is personal to her, but resembles a workbook typically used in higher education.

But did it work? Well, in Lucy’s own words: "PebblePad is a brilliant tool for helping me organise myself. it saves me a huge amount of time later on in the academic year just by spending a few moments at the beginning of every week updating it."


Now I have no excuses for being a fluent Spanish speaker in 12 months…Adios !

insert new block here

Further reading

PebblePad personal accounts

More about PDP

insert new block here


An experienced learning technologist, John has worked in higher education for nearly 20 years, leading the implementation and delivery of learning solutions, and now has the pleasure of working with many dedicated practitioners of PebblePad across the UK. John is an active sailor, singer, school governor, and proud dad to two lovely children.