PebbleBash 2014

Publication

PebbleBash 2014 Publication

PebblePad: Personalising the Curriculum

Improving learning and development through thoughtful learning design

Edited by Alison Poot
ISBN 978-0-9565641-3-9
Published by Pebble Learning © 2014

About this book
In preparation for this year’s conference I was looking through some old design specifications for the very first version of PebblePad. With a very ambitious timescale of 6 months for the creation of PebblePad 1.0, the design specifications were completed, although maybe not very detailed, by the end of March 2004. The coding started in early April 2004, making PebbleBash 2014 almost 10 years to the day after the first few lines of code were written and the first features started to appear. With just 3 people working on the development we somehow managed to get a version ready for 160 students to pilot at the University of Wolverhampton by the 1st of October.
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Case Studies

Research papers

Education

Engineering

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Talk the talk: Finding the language of the eportfolio
by Heather Pate, Centre for Learning and Development, Edith Cowan University, AUS

Case studies

Computing

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Moving from paper to PebblePad: Connecting students, practicum supervisors, and instructors
by Yusuke Ishimura, School of Computer and Security Science, Edith Cowan University, AUS

Education

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Practicums, philosophies and learning design
by Lilian Austin, Faculty of Education, La Trobe University, AUS
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Moving paper based reflective practice to a sustainable future
by Kymberley Barbary, School of Education, La Trobe University, AUS
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Educators at the core of lifelong learning
by Lucy Stone, E-Learning and Resource Development, the Amateur Swimming Association, UK

Health

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Using PebblePad in Health Sciences units: A comparison of design and support approaches during a pilot phase.
by Astrid Davine, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, University of Western Australia, AUS
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Midwifery students’ experiences: Real time, real benefit, real deal
by Helen Godwin & Jacqui Patten, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Edith Cowan University, AUS
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Introducing eportfolios into the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (OT) program
by Christine Slade1, Keith Murfin1, & Anita Hamilton2, 1Centre for the Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching & 2School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, AUS
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Master of Midwifery: A postgraduate program's first use of eportfolios
by Christine Slade1, Keith Murfin1, Michelle Gray2, & Kendall George2, 1Centre for the Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching & 2School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of the Sunshine Coast, AUS
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Moving midwifery placements online
by Terry Young1, Michelle Newton2, & Sarah Hay2, 1La Trobe Learning and Teaching & 2School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University, AUS

Institution-wide

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The short and the long of it: Sustaining workbooks from three weeks to three years
by Susan Atkinson, Mark Henderson, Jo Lockwood & Ruth Weeks, Sydney eLearning, University of Sydney, AUS
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From training to learning: Using PebblePad to enhance professional development
by Pamela Basden, Centre for Learning and Development, Edith Cowan University, AUS
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The 'Unfold' project – enhancing the Personal Tutor System with the use of reflective templates
by Robert Chmielewski1 & Prof. Ian Pirie2, 1Information Services and Institute for Academic Development, and 2Assistant Principal Learning and Development, University of Edinburgh, UK
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Eportfolio competitions: Everyone's a winner
by Jacqueline Patten, Centre for Learning and Development, Edith Cowan University, AUS
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Implementation of an ePortfolio Early Adopter Phase: Processes and outcomes
by Christine Slade & Keith Murfin, Centre for the Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching, University of the Sunshine Coast, AUS
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PebblePad: Enhancing learning delivery by extending the capability of existing educational technologies.
by Ross Yates, Centre for Learning and Development, Edith Cowan University, AUS

Previous Publications

Case Studies from PebbleBash 2012

The 2012 case studies describe larger scale implementations, integration with other institution systems, action research based on 1, 2, 3, or more years of practice, empirical research data, and a diversity of use of PebblePad that goes well beyond the creation of ‘eportfolios’.

Visit Case Studies from PebbleBash 2012

Case Studies from PebbleBash 2010

These case studies and student accounts arose from the first PebblePad conference; a conference designed to inform and improve effective PebblePad practice by bringing together ‘expert’ practitioners to share their experiences and the knowledge and insights they have developed.

Visit Case Studies from PebbleBash 2010

Pebblegogy: Ideas and activities to inspire and engage learners

Pebblegogy is a book that will help tutors and learning designers create meaningful activities that will support their curricula. Written by PebblePad experts and informed by contributions from experienced practitioners in the UK and Australia, Pebblegogy will appeal to those new to PebblePad who want practical guidance in making best use of the personal learning space.

Visit Pebblegogy: Ideas and activities to inspire and engage learners

Improving learning and development through thoughtful learning design

In preparation for this year’s conference I was looking through some old design specifications for the very first version of PebblePad. With a very ambitious timescale of 6 months for the creation of PebblePad 1.0, the design specifications were completed, although maybe not very detailed, by the end of March 2004. The coding started in early April 2004, making PebbleBash 2014 almost 10 years to the day after the first few lines of code were written and the first features started to appear. With just 3 people working on the development we somehow managed to get a version ready for 160 students to pilot at the University of Wolverhampton by the 1st of October.

At the time we didn’t really know what we had built, and to be honest we have changed our minds a few times over the years. We set out to build an eportfolio system because that’s what people were interested in, but looking back with the benefit of hindsight, we had built what was possibly the world’s first Personal Learning Space. Our structured wizard approach was there from day one, with the aim of supporting the recording of experiences, the creation of plans, and the demonstration of abilities. The ability for learners to audit their own skills and reflect upon those skills was all part of the first version. The difference with PebblePad, in comparison to other eportfolio systems, was that the software was designed to support learning in the system not just linking to learning that happened elsewhere as was the case with other tools. This foundation has carried through to today, where we now see some fantastic examples of supporting learning in the system through the use of subject specific custom templates and rich workbooks that bring together tutor authored content and student evidence and reflection in one place. These tools allow for learners to have a much more personal interaction with the course materials and allow for a longer term connection with the materials than usually available in other learning technologies.

We put so much of our effort in the initial designs into creating the personal space that we didn’t really think about the assessment side of things. There were no tools to support student submission; it was a case of the student sharing an asset with their tutor. Thankfully this came up as an issue very soon in the initial trials. The problem emerged when a fairly small group of students, about 20 or so, shared 5 different assets with their tutor. It was obvious that the volume of work involved in just viewing and sending comments meant that something more practical was required to manage the group and their work. So we developed an assessment management facility, Gateways, which was greatly enhanced with the release of v3 in the shape of ATLAS.

Like many people in the elearning world 10 years ago, we believed that all we had to do was show students PebblePad and they would see the benefits of using the software and want to use it to support all their learning activities. They would want to continue using it life-wide and life-long and everyone would be happy. Of course the reality is quite different. Like any learning resource, PebblePad needs to be used in a meaningful way with real purpose. How that plays out on any given course depends upon a number of factors but fundamentally for success, students need a clear purpose and any technology used has to be embedded into the learning design. For some students the benefits of using PebblePad over traditional options may need to be highlighted, as clarity of purpose will help foster engagement.

Students understand assessment, well hopefully the need to try to pass them. Where PebblePad works best is when it is a core part of the curriculum and as a key element in assessment processes. With good learning design and appropriate use of the tools, students will be able to identify the possibilities of the system from required initial use and will see the potential for PebblePad to support other things they do, even when not assessed. Some students may need more support to help them make the connections between what they are doing as part of their course and the potential to use PebblePad independent of instruction to support their learning and development.

As PebblePad has grown over the last ten years what might have once been recognised as the eportfolio functions of the system have become the core of a much larger and more sophisticated toolset. PebblePad has evolved from being totally focused on being a Personal System into being a Personal Learning Space and Assessment System. Whilst the focus has shifted towards assessment driving institutional use, importantly the personal privacy is as essential today as it was in our first draft plans. It is still impossible for anyone to look at another users’ PebblePad account or view their assets unless the owner submits or shares something. Some people say that a Personal Learning Space should not be involved in assessment. I would suggest this is a naïve view. What is important is that the user is in control and they decide what others can see. It is really just like my laptop where I have lots of files including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and holiday photos. The whole collection is private to me and I would never share everything with anyone. However particular audiences get to see selected items when it is appropriate. This privacy is a vital part of PebblePad and a fundamental feature of a personal system. If users are going to engage beyond their required activities they need to be confident that they have privacy and control over anything they record in the system.

Assessment is arguably the most powerful driver for learner engagement. Good learning design with well aligned assessment, should result in assessment processes that don’t just test the learning but support and enhance it. PebblePad provides the opportunity to do this really well by supporting the recording and reflection of practice. This enables not just the final outcomes of an activity to be apparent, but also enables students to highlight the learning journey they have undertaken. The opportunity to evidence the knowledge gained and the abilities developed are all very powerful learning activities in their own right, particularly where used to draw together theory and practice.

We now believe that the eportfolio side of the system is just a small part of what PebblePad offers. We know that people will still call PebblePad an eportfolio system, mostly for historical reasons, but we like to think of PebblePad as a Personal Learning Space and Assessment system.

So on to the matter in hand, PebbleBash 2014. This is the third PebbleBash and we are delighted to be running it in Australia. With the highly active community in Australia we are really looking forward to the conversations and discussion around PebblePad and finding out more of the details about the interesting ways people are applying the technology in practice.

We chose the theme Improving learning and development through thoughtful learning design for this year’s PebbleBash because we firmly believe that learning design is central to good learning. Where done well we know that a thoughtfully designed learning activity can have an impact way beyond the subject knowledge gained. We have seen many examples over the years where well thought through programmes have energised both staff and students alike and delivered outstanding results. We know that PebblePad offers a range of unique features that can open up new possibilities for learning designers. For us one of the joys of releasing new versions of PebblePad into ‘the wild’ is the unexpected and innovative uses people find for it. I am particularly delighted to see a number of papers in the programme which highlight the possibilities for newer features such as workbooks and worksheets, as well as interesting ways to use the long established elements of the system. We continue to be impressed by the range of ways in which people are experimenting with PebblePad. We know being innovative in teaching and learning can be a challenge and is certainly not always the easiest approach, but the rewards are often well worth the effort. If nothing else the way people use PebblePad impresses the staff back at Pebble HQ!

I hope that you take as much inspiration as I have from the case studies in this book and can see how some elements may be applied to your own practice. For me they represent a celebration of good teaching activities that are supported well by PebblePad. We are always humbled to see how people are making a real difference to their students with thoughtful use of our system. So I would like to end by saying thank you to all the contributors to PebbleBash 2014. Without your hard work there would be no case studies and no conference so thank you for being part of our community and for allowing us to present your stories of PebblePad in this book.

Colin Dalziel
Chief Operating Officer and Founder
Pebble Learning
April 2014

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