• 12 terrific ALT Conference experiences already in the PebblePad locker. Will number 13 be our best yet?

    by Sarah Chesney, Sarah Copeland

 

12 terrific ALT Conference experiences already in the PebblePad locker. Will number 13 be our best yet?

~ Events ~

SEPTEMBER 6th 2018
by
Sarah Chesney
Sarah Copeland

 


13 years at ALT – certainly not unlucky for PebblePad

The Association of Learning Technology is celebrating its 25th conference in September. Those involved in organising the conference over the years need to be congratulated for keeping ALTC vibrant, current and lively. We expect that the issues the newly formed association grappled with in 1993 must have been quite different to today. Indeed, a waltz through the ALT Archives reveals a change in terminology, focus, and, of course, the demise of some technologies and the rise of powerful social media platforms. The conference themes throughout the years demonstrate a willingness on the part of ALT to be open to challenges, adopt critical perspectives and embrace change. Indeed, our favourite conference title comes from ALTC 2005: Exploring the frontiers of e-learning – border, outposts and migration.

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At the time of this year’s ALTC there are more than 100 organisations using PebblePad. In most of these organisations its use is deeply embedded, particularly in HE as concern grows for what learners can do, as well as what they know.

 
 
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For the past 13 years, PebblePad has been a part of the ALT journey – even longer for company founders, Shane and Colin, who were presenting their VLE work at ALTC 2001 (Edinburgh), and who actually began chatting about building something PebblePad-like while at the 2002 ALTC (Sunderland) - no doubt over a biscuit or cake. And ALTC 2005 (Manchester) has a special place in PebblePad's history, as it was the event where PebblePad was launched as a commercial product. 

We’ve attended ALTC both for professional development and to share and promote our learning experience platform. 13 years ago, as winners of the inaugural Learning Technology Team of the Year award, ALT recognised we were going somewhere – and we're delighted to have proved the association right! While eportfolio is somewhat of a contested concept, and we’ve been trying to move away from it for about as long as we’ve used the term, it’s a matter of fact that at the time of this year’s ALTC there are more than 100 organisations around the globe using PebblePad. In most of these organisations its use is deeply embedded, particularly in HE as concern grows for what learners can do, as well as what they know.

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We now see PebblePad being used at scale for complex learning processes such as peer assessment, research and project work, and for supporting students on placement. In many ways, PebblePad is used to reach the spots inaccessible or invisible to the LMS

 

 
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Practices that make learning explicit, such as preparing and planning for learning, recording and making sense of experience, collating and curating, and sharing and showcasing are increasingly valued. And, as a result, we see PebblePad being used at scale for complex learning processes such as peer assessment, research and project work, and for supporting students on placement. Indeed, in recent months, we’ve welcomed the universities of Birmingham, Tasmania, Nottingham Trent University and University College Birmingham as enterprise customers and you can read more here about why Columbia University School of Professional Studies chose PebblePad. In many ways, PebblePad is used to reach the spots inaccessible or invisible to the LMS. One such example is the ability to support the thousands of externals who support students off campus – at the last count, our top 20 customers (in terms of user numbers) had a combined total of 53,406 external assessors, reviewers and examiners!

Building on the values of a personal learning space and privacy by design, we have been able to capitalise on the capability afforded by new technologies to keep redesigning PebblePad to meet the needs of an evolving educational landscape. We were one of the first enterprise systems to move into ‘the cloud’, the first portfolio platform to be LTI 2.0 certified, and we now have a fully responsive HTML5 interface augmented by the convenience of our offline-capable mobile app, PebblePocket. Use of the app is growing - we’ve had 45,000 downloads of the app to date with growth increasing rapidly as users begin to realise how powerful it can be to reflect immediately in practice – or indeed to record experience directly to video – and then to save and upload to a PebblePad account when an internet connection is next available.

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More than 2000 folk (this year alone) have been downloading and interacting with our ideas through our publications, webinars and special interest groups.

 
 
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At ALTC 17 we spent a lot of time talking to delegates about our upcoming research and publications. Indeed, in the same way our product development is guided by input from our wonderful community, our thinking and ideas are instigated, shaped and developed through our conversations with both the PebblePad and wider HE community. And, we're delighted to see that our efforts are making a difference - since last year's ALT Conference more than 2000 folk across the globe have downloaded and interacted with our ideas through our publications, webinars and special interest groups. If you're not one of the 2000, and our research and publications have passed you by, then either come and say hello at ALTC 18 and one of the friendly team will point you in the right direction or get a taster right now of the kinds of content we've published by clicking on the infographic below.

Image shows PebblePad's Global Trends in Higher Education Infographic

 
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Our 'must-attend' sessions at ALTC

Ok, we freely admit we're biased (very biased, in fact) but we're also incredibly proud and thrilled that some of our PebblePad customers are going to be talking about their projects and experiences. If you would like to keep up with the great work going on at other institutions, not just in HE, then drop by our stand to pick up a leaflet to find out where and when our customers are presenting during ALTC 2018 or download a copy here.

To whet your appetite, we will be hearing from: 

  • The University of Northumbria and their Degree Apprenticeship programme
  • Video assessment using PebblePocket with Sheffield Hallam paramedics
  • Digital capabilities in incoming cohorts of freshers in the University of Plymouth
  • DementiaUK and their work with PebblePad for Admiral Nurse revalidation
  • Two presentations from the ePAD project – a multi-institutional collaboration in Yorkshire for nursing students supporting placement and assessment online – represented by the University of Bradford and Leeds Beckett.

There will be presentations over the three days, and in between we will be in the exhibitor’s area so come and talk to us (we’re a friendly bunch) and hear about where PebblePad could be taking you and your learners in the near future. Like many involved in learning technology, we’ve sometimes felt that we’ve been ascending a steep hill pushing that metaphoric boulder. However, there’s one thing we’re certain of, the endeavour has been made more pleasurable through it being a joint enterprise with close colleagues in the ALT community – here’s to a successful ALTC 2018.

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Authors

Sarah has worked in educational and staff development for 13 years; first as a senior lecturer in e-learning at the University of Cumbria, and since then as both a consultant and associate lecturer. Sarah is a keen advocate for using eportfolios for staff development and professional recognition and has written several articles on this topic. The good news for Sarah (and for PebblePad customers) is that she now gets to spend even more of her time innovating in the eportfolio space in her role as an Implementation Specialist. 

An educational designer, Sarah has supported use and integration of educational technologies and mediated learning in both post-compulsory educational institutions and in industry, from managing MOOC design on digital skills to teaching the Army how to build campfires to cook for the troops through a screen. Sarah's passion for community engagement through activism and lifelong learning, along with her former doctoral research on digital storytelling, comes in more than a little handy in her role as an Implementation Specialist. When Sarah unplugs from digital life, you may well find her on the tennis court, in the pool or out walking in the Yorkshire Dales with her beloved spaniel Basil.

 

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