PebblePad team at Rowton Castle
Anne Wheeler has attended a two day PebblePad retreat at Rowton Castle in Shropshire (3 & 4 November 2009). Representatives form Queen Margaret’s University and the Universities of Northumbria, Derby, Greenwich, Bedfordshire and Birmingham, plus some PebblePad staff, have been discussing some of the finer, or indeed more challenging issues surrounding the implementation and use of PebblePad. This was not a technical event, nor was it a blue skies event (though there were occasions when discussions entered this arena). This was intended to be a meeting of people interested in, and knowledgeable about, issues directly relating to learning, teaching and assessment (subsuming PDP and CPD) – specifically how PebblePad can be used to support these purposes.
At the end of the first day there had been a full and open discussion of how PebblePad has been implemented and used at the respective institutions. Ideas and perspectives were shared and it was decided that some developments at our universities, such as handbooks, guides, papers, presentations, etc., could be put on the Pebble site under a collective commons agreement. It was also agreed that PebblePad is NOT an eportfolio system but more a personal learning system within which eportfolios can be developed if a user wishes, or as a requirement of their course. It is more a personal e-space where users can discover and understand more about their own learning, and also a space where they take charge and manage that learning.
PebblePad has also been very responsive to suggestions, such as providing an alternative interface for institutions that woud like a more ‘professional’ first view on entering PebblePad, but still allowing individual personalisation thereafter. The format for the first PebblePad conference in June 2010 was also discussed over dinner, with useful suggestions regarding the types of papers that would be encouraged, and the development of a conference book.
On the second day the group considered how to make the embedding of PebblePad fail in an institution. This allowed to us to consider challenges and barriers to successful use, and how we at the universities and PebblePad might overcome them. We also thought about ‘touch points’ for students using PebblePad on entering our institutions and in what ways that might enhance their individual learning experiences – this also raised awareness of pre-entry and post graduation learning experiences and the possible access to the system outside their formal time at university.
Overall the retreat was a very worthwhile, informative and enjoyable experience in an excellent setting.