There are lots of good things about PebblePad (and a few not so good, too!) and in this article I will share with you my top three.
One of the best things is the variety of ways you can ‘share’ your assets (assets = your stuff) in PebblePad. There are three kinds of sharing in PebblePad:
Sharing with people allows the person or people you share with to view your asset(s). You also have options to allow others to comment on what you share, to take a copy of what you share, and also to collaborate with you. Allowing collaboration is handy as it means two or more people can take turns editing the same asset – I use this all the time with my LIU colleague, Sophie Burton, when we are developing workbooks and other resources in PebblePad (though, to avoid ‘locking out’ the other from editing the asset we have to be careful to navigate away from the shared asset before we log out of PebblePad. This is one of the least good aspects of PebblePad!). Find out more about sharing with people.
Sharing with the web in PebblePad means publishing assets live on the web. When you share an asset with the web it is given a URL (which nobody will guess and cannot be found via a Google search) that you can give to people outside PebblePad, (e.g. email it to someone, post it on Twitter, your CV or your LinkedIn profile) allowing them to view or add comments to your work. You can also set a time limit for how long the asset will be publicly available. Find out more about sharing with the web.
Sharing for assessment is PebblePad-speak for submitting work to tutors – most likely for marking and feedback. Because PebblePad works with live links, and in contrast to Blackboard, after sharing for assessment students can keep developing and improving the work they submit right up to the assignment deadline, without any need to resubmit it. This means students can submit their work just once (e.g. on day one of the module), work on it throughout the semester (remembering to click save as they go, of course!) and not have the stress of submitting it again just before the deadline. Tutors will see the submitted asset in whatever state it is at the deadline. And because tutors can see the students’ work live as it develops, there is the opportunity to provide formative feedback (see next section) while the students are working – much more useful than after deadline! Find out more about sharing for assessment. Students can share their work for assessment outside UWE, too, e.g. by workplace mentors – see sharing with External Assessors to find out more.
Another great thing about PebblePad is the range of ways that feedback is dealt with. There are lots of feedback options and settings, however, so you may well need the assistance of a Learning Technologist (contact me, Oliver Haslam, or Sophie Burton in the LIU for help) to find the best set-up for your teaching context.
Comments (informal): Students can provide feedback on each other’s work using the Comments feature, which allows students to develop a conversation in the side panel of the asset being discussed. Asking students to comment on each other’s work is a great way to improve analytical skills and to improve academic writing. Students, at lower levels in particular, often need some initial help to make appropriate and constructive comments, however, so make sure to devote some time at the start of the course to help students with this, and model good practice by making constructive comments yourself. Find out more about Comments.
Feedback comments (formal): Using the Feedback feature tutors can provide formal formative and/or summative feedback (and grades) in reply to assets which students have shared (submitted) for assessment. Again, within PebblePad it is possible for students to reply to the feedback comments received and staff can reply in turn, thus developing a really useful feedback conversation that’s in context and recorded and which should be a really useful resource for students as well as staff. Find out more about adding feedback comments and grades.
Feedback Statements: Do you find that you keep giving same/similar feedback to many different students (e.g. ‘remember to use the UWE Harvard system for referencing’)? PebblePad allows tutors to create any number of feedback statements (in advance or on the fly) which can be selected from a drop-down menu and given as feedback to students, thus reducing the need to type the same thing repeatedly. The statements remain editable so you can tailor them to the individual student or piece of work. Find out more about using feedback statements.
Feedback Templates: If it is important to structure the feedback given to students, (e.g. so that all students receive feedback on the same aspects of an assessment) then feedback templates make your life as a tutor easier. You can create prompts (e.g. ‘Feedback on referencing’ or ‘Spelling and punctuation’) with text boxes for assessors to type their feedback in. This is ideal when more than one tutor is marking students’ work as it helps ensure consistency. Find out more about using feedback templates.
Rubric Tables: One of the options to include in a feedback template (see above) is a Rubric Table. With these, tutors simply select cells in a table to give students an indication of the standard of their work. This is a really quick way for staff to provide ongoing feedback (it literally takes seconds!) and is great for teachers with busy schedules. Additionally, cells in the table can have scores associated with them which automatically collate when selected.
The third great thing I want to mention in this article is that students can retain access to everything they do in PebblePad long after they graduate. Students using PebblePad at university are entitled to a free alumni account and can take their assets with them and continue to use PebblePad to support their personal learning and professional development as they move on to the next stage of their career. I recently heard from a tutor whose students have been using their PebblePad portfolios in job interviews with great success – this was great news to hear! Find out more about Free Alumni Accounts.