Delivering Value in Higher Education - 10 Examples of Transformational Practice.

by Gail Ring, Melissa Shaquid Pirie


Delivering Value in Higher Education - 10 Examples of Transformational Practice.

~ Adding value ~

FEBRUARY 17th 2019
Gail Ring
Melissa Shaquid Pirie

In an age of unprecedented technological advancement and significant shifts in what the tech-savvy 21st century learner is demanding of a university education, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to find that 1 in 3 of our recently analyzed organizational strategies made reference to a need to offer better value and a greater capacity to change and evolve more quickly. This leads us to ask the question: As an organization how are you delivering value to your stakeholders?

Whether it is students, faculty, staff, or your organizational and local communities, we at PebblePad are always evaluating how we deliver and build value with our partners.  This culminating blog in our set of PebblePad blogs related to Global Trends in Higher Education offers ten solid strategies and examples for assisting our partner organizations in building and delivering value. The simple truth of the matter is that for organizations to survive and thrive they need to be able to adapt quickly to change, offer increased value, and place the learner at the heart of - and in many ways in control of - their learning experiences. Below, you'll find just some of the ways Universities and Colleges are using PebblePad to accomplish this ambitious task and you can also download our latest paper offering insight on why more and more universities across the globe are viewing PebblePad's Learning Journey Platform as a core component of their learning ecology. 

The PebblePad Learning Journey Platform

1. Providing personal learning systems that promote and enable student centered learning. A stellar example can be found at the University of Edinburgh and their revolutionary and highly flexible Student Led, Individually Created Courses (SLICC’s), where they are “enabling students to take control of their learning and assessment” by mapping their life experiences to learning outcomes for credit in their programs.

2. Through the practice of integrative learning which helps learners make connections over time, across contexts, and with intention (Reynolds and Patton, 2014). A great example of this can be viewed in Heidi Blair and Megan Duffy’s recorded presentation describing a four pronged approach to their PebblePad implementation at Griffith University.  This approach includes:

a. Embedding PebblePad within the curriculum
b. Enhancing University employability strategies.
c.  Engaging all students through extra-curricular activities.
d.  Embedding PebblePad into extracurricular activities.

3. Through the High Impact Practices recommended by AACU as interpreted by Robert Fleisig, whose IMPACT (Interdisciplinary, Meaningful/Mentorship, Practice, Applied, Collaborative/Community Transformative) Project provides an interdisciplinary authentic learning experience for first-year engineering students, undergraduate biology students, and graduate-level occupational therapy students. Together, students, staff, and faculty from these three disciplines work with local community members to identify a problem area, collaboratively design devices, and ultimately deliver a useable solution to one or more users.

4. Through innovative assessment as evidenced in this webinar with participants from Murdoch University, Monash University and the University of the Sunshine Coast who provide examples of innovative methods for clinical assessment at three different universities using iPads, portfolios and PebblePad feedback templates.

5. By planning and implementing opportunities that focus on future ready education. With both WIL experiences and the employability theme integrated throughout the Bachelor of Business degree, students at James Cook University not only have the opportunity to gain valuable industry experience, but can enrich their experience by documenting and demonstrating work-based competencies. This ignite presentation  explains how the building blocks embedded in the degree ensure every BBus graduate leaves the institution with a skills-based CV Portfolio significantly enhancing their employability.

6. By embedding employability throughout the curriculum as presented by Heather Pate and Katrina Strampel from Edith Cowan University, where they focus on enhancing students’ ability to understand, demonstrate, take responsibility for, and articulate their learning, thus improving their written applications for employment, their verbal interviews, and their continuing professional development.

7. By engaging students in critical reflection on their ‘anytime and anywhere’ learning experiences as they unfold in real time with knowledge age tools such as our phone app PebblePocket, and helping them develop the habit of mind to support reflection in and on practice as discussed by Sarah Tutton a newly qualified teacher from Canterbury Christ Church University who has recently won the prize for teaching creativity.

8. Through a 360-degree feedback framework, which includes peer review, student feedback, clinical educator feedback, placement agency feedback and patient feedback with oral health students at La Trobe University. A clinical logbook, used with feedback templates, and a number of workbooks stimulates goal setting for improvement of clinical and critical thinking skills is showcased in this webinar.

9. Through Degree Apprenticeships, similar to internships and co-ops in the United States and elsewhere, in which students develop knowledge, skills and behaviors as specified by employer developed national apprenticeship standards. Specifically PebblePad features such as PebblePocket, ATLAS and reflective templates give institutions such as Northumbria University the ability to support these co-curricular experiences. Take a look at our blog post by PebblePad CEO, Shane Sutherland, to find out more.

10. Participating in a vibrant learning community - A belief in the value of collaborative and reflective learning underpins the design and development of PebblePad. It is only fitting that this same philosophy is at the heart of our ever-expanding community of PebblePad practitioners and users. Those new to our community often comment on how motivated members are to share and collaborate as evidenced by our partner organizations offering their lessons learned via our regular webinars, and the PebblePad Community site aims to facilitate this community by providing all PebblePad users with the opportunity to stay informed, make connections and find out what others are doing. 

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The PebblePad Journey

For the past 15 years we have shared our unique blend of technology and educational expertise to help universities across the globe guide and develop future-ready graduates through the likes of the innovative examples of practice highlighted in this blog post. Indeed, every day, thousands of students access our award-winning Learning Journey Platform to plan for their learning, record and reflect on their experiences, and collect, curate, share and showcase evidence of their evolving capabilities. If you'd like to view more case studies and learn more about how our Learning Journey Platform is helping educators support, guide and develop students – from induction to graduation, and beyond, then you should absolutely download the guide below and add it to your must-read list.

The image shows a snapshot of the PebblePad Learning Journey Platform


Learn more
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Reynolds, C., & Patton, J. (2015). Leveraging the ePortfolio for integrative learning: A faculty guide to classroom practices for transforming student learning. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

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Gail is a great believer in the power of portfolios for learning and has been using them in her teaching and research since her graduate work at the University of Florida. Formerly the Director of the ePortfolio Program at Clemson University, Gail joined the PebblePad team in 2015 as she wanted the opportunity to share her knowledge and passion for the transformational nature of portfolio with a broader audience. Therefore, on any given day, you'll most likely find Gail eulogising all things portfolio somewhere in North America (albeit with a healthy bias towards a rather wonderful portfolio platform going by the name of PebblePad).

Melissa has two decades of experience working in Higher Education and is a self-confessed addict of problem-solving and innovating. Fortunately for us (and our customers in North America) Melissa's addiction to finding better ways to do stuff makes her a natural in her role as an Implementation Specialist. Melissa lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and you guessed it – spends her free time solving gardening problems (of the permaculture design kind).