PebblePad on the Web
Archived webinar session from January 18, 2012
with Shane Sutherland of Pebble Pad, Trent Batson facilitating.
(Thanks to Patricia Donohue of ePortfolio California for making the
archived resources possible.)
Webinar Powerpoint can be downloaded below.
The following questions are a compilation of the needs and concerns
identified in an informal polling of eportfolio community members during
spring 2011. The answers are the vendor's responses.
What vision or understanding of learning informed the design of your tool?
PebblePad is based on the idea that we
learn many different things in different places and at different times.
In order for these varied learning experiences to become meaningful,
they need to be identified and reflected upon. This is not a natural
process and learners require assistance to develop these skills.
Learning is also enhanced through dialogue, both internal and with
others. For personal learning to become life-wide and life-long,
learners need a tool that provides a private, secure space that they can
take with them and has the flexibility to support learning in any
context. It must provide prompts and scaffolding for recording and
reflecting on learning, and enable sharing and communication with
How does your vision of learning promote a student-centered approach to education? (e.g. student ownership of his/her learning)
PebblePad is all about personal learning
and enabling users to take responsibility for their own learning.
Inbuilt and tutor- provided templates can guide and scaffold the
learning process so that learners (staff, students, professionals) can
work independently, while sharing options provide the opportunity to
work collaboratively with colleagues. The PebblePad environment is
totally user owned and controlled and interaction with work in this
environment is by invitation only. While ‘others’ will often provide a
purpose for use – multiple diverse purposes can be addressed
contemporaneously - what is done within PebblePad, what is presented,
and how this is presented is user determined. The more the user engages
with the personal learning space the richer and more rewarding the
products of learning will be. By drawing upon, and making connections
between, learning in all contexts learners are able to see the relevance
of their education experience.
Does your tool allow students to control permissions? Can they share
with people outside of the institution? How? (e.g., advisor,
prospective employer, etc.).
Learners have absolute control over who
sees what, for how long, and what they can do with it. They can share
directly with other PebblePad users within their institution. These
shares appear in the ‘received assets’ of the PebblePad account of the
recipient. Permissions include view, copy, comment, and collaborate.
Students can also share with anyone external to the institution for whom
they have an email address. Students can also share assets by
publishing them to the web and sharing the PebblePad generated URL.
Viewers of the asset can be given comment permissions. For all methods
of sharing the student can pre-set the duration of the share and can
remove the share or edit the permissions at any time.
What is the process for inviting feedback on work or artifacts?
Students can share selected pieces of work
with comment permissions with one or more others, both within and
external to the institution. An accompanying message can be sent to
provide guidance to those they are sharing with. All feedback is
attached to the work and there are options for feedback to remain
private if there are multiple recipients.
Feedback can be free-form text, text drawn
from ‘comment banks’, provided in the form of rubrics or as attached
audio or video files.
Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-student collaboration.
The process for sharing work with others
is very simple and is presented as an option whenever a new piece is
created. Sharing involves live links to work in progress so actively
supports formative feedback and engagement between students about the
development of the work. In addition to view and comment permissions,
work can also be shared for collaboration. Students then become
co-owners of the piece of work and can each contribute to its
development. The level of control that students have over their work and
the permissions given to others helps to give them confidence in the
sharing and collaboration process.
Permissions within the PebblePad
assessment space (Gateways) allows tutors to organise more formal peer
and anonymous peer-assessment.
Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-faculty collaboration.
All of the above describing
student-to-student collaboration applies equally to student-to-faculty
collaboration. Students and staff all have the same PebblePad accounts –
there is not differentiation between users for basic functionality.
Staff might have access to additional institution tools that help to
support teaching and learning. These tools enable staff to create and
make available to students additional templates to scaffold learning.
Staff can also work with large groups of students through a space called
a gateway. The gateway, once again, involves live links to student
work, enabling staff to provide ongoing formative feedback. In this way
staff can collaborate with students around the learning process rather
than just receiving the product of learning at the end of the
How does your tool support and encourage the reflection process for students and faculty?
Reflection is built in to every component
of PebblePad. Every template finishes with a reflection page, and the
questions within the templates prompt users to consider varied aspects
of their experience. As described above, this applies equally to
students and faculty. PebblePad also provides tools for faculty to
create various types of forms and templates to further facilitate
reflection and self-assessment. The focus is always on creating records
of experience that reflect and enhance the personal learning of the
How does your tool address and support institutional level
assessment needs (e.g., aggregating student data and generating reports
At an institution level PebblePad can
generate reports about student usage of the system including data about
active users, shares, asset types, and file uploads. These reports can
be provided for any group of users that can be identified within the
system. Importantly, it is not possible to generate reports that
undermine any aspect of the user’s privacy.
The PebblePad system contains an
integrated ‘institutional’ space called ‘Gateways’ that provides all the
tools required to support teaching and learning assessment processes.
Gateways provide a space for academics to manage assessment submissions
from large groups of students and support formative and summative
feedback and processes such as grading, validation, blind marking,
double blind marking, peer review, anonymous peer review, and external
assessment. All grades can be exported as CSV files for import into
other gradebook systems.
Does your application integrate with enterprise systems? Which ones?
Do you have examples of effective integration in support of advising or
other student services you can share?
PebblePad utilizes open standards and
common processes wherever they are available and appropriate. For the
purposes of authentication and access these include LDAP/AD, CAS,
Shibboleth and OAuth. PebblePad also supports Leap2A, IMS eP, Atom, RSS
and more recently IMS LTI. Specifically:
PebblePad can integrate with a variety of enterprise systems:
- Integration with the student management systems enables automated
account creation and management, linking of gateway groups to courses or
units of study, and automatic population of personal details such as
contact details, prior qualifications and current course grades into the
About Me section of PebblePad.
- The Blackboard 9.x block enables single sign-on, creation of
PebblePad assets within the Blackboard environment, direct links to
PebblePad gateways from Blackboard, Blackboard resources on PebblePad
gateways, and a dashboard within Blackboard showing activity within
- The Moodle 1.9 and 2.0 blocks enable single sign-on, creation of
PebblePad assets within the Moodle environment, and the export of Moodle
blogs, forums, assignments and resources to PebblePad.
- Integration with TurnItIn enables students to submit their own
work to TurnItIn or tutors to submit student work to TurnItIn via the
What is the main strength of your application?
The main strength of PebblePad is that it
has its origins in the university environment and its design is based on
principles of effective teaching and learning. It promotes a student
centered approach to learning and its flexibility and ease of use
engages all parties in the learning experience.
Whilst the most effective uses of
PebblePad emerge from well designed curriculum activities it has been
proven to provide effective support for learning in contexts as diverse
as preparation/transition to university and independent professional
What weaknesses have been identified relative to the user experience and shared with you?
The concern most often addressed is also
one of the features most widely praised – that is, the interface. It was
designed to allow users with low levels of computing competence and
confidence to easily create attractive and meaningful records of their
learning and experience. Many users still praise the system for this.
However, some other users consider the interface too simple/childish. To
the uninitiated the simple interface also belies the systems powerful
In a similar vein one of the systems
greatest strengths – its flexibility – is also one of its weaknesses as
users (particularly those charged with promoting its use with students)
are often unsure where to start with the tool.
Our close relationship with our user
community has resulted in wide ranging enhancements to the interface and
work flows which are released as PebblePad+ in early 2012.
Further, drawing upon contributions from
50 practitioners we have recently published a guide to effective
pedagogical practice with PebblePad – a 300 page handbook entitled
Please share some examples of user feedback.
"I am in the middle of marking 15
individual portfolios - part of a new module at level 6. Having given
the students only minimal contact time (lecture) on the webfolio
element, saying that I wanted to see what they could 'make' of the task
with the facility that is Pebble, I am just loving the imagination that
the students are unleashing ... and what they reveal ...all down to the
options they have with Pebble - enjoying marking hurrah :)"
Dance Studies Lecturer (University of Wolverhampton)
"I used PebblePad as part of my Social Work Level 2 placement, when I
first found out about my involvement in PebblePad I was very resistant
'Upon reflection I feel that even though I
had competent IT skills, it was something new and I didn’t like the
idea of my portfolio not being in front of me in hardcopy. However, I
used this as an opportunity to learn a new computer programme and I
absolutely love it now, it has so many benefits. I feel that the primary
benefit was because it was accessible anywhere, I used it every day,
from updating and uploading work to writing a journal. Furthermore I
feel that my understanding of the National Occupational Standards
greatly improved because of the way in which they were set out on
PebblePad, as you were identifying work, applying in it practice,
considering your practice framework and then reflecting upon them. I
would argue that this promotes good practice and continuing professional
development. Not only does it enable IT skills development but you can
compile a portfolio with one programme, you can upload, add links,
personalise it, present it professionally and it is so easy to use. It
is also environmentally friendly.
'I would argue it is a fantastic programme and I will be very disappointed if I am not able to use it for my level 3 placement.'
2nd year Social Work student (University of Gloucestershire).
Please share examples of the successful use of your application
to help students achieve their goals undefined admission to graduate
school, career placement and advancement, etc.
The case studies available on this page
point to a wide variety of successful uses. In particular the student
perspectives esp. that of Sandra Stewart -
What key changes or features do you plan to introduce in the near future?
PP+ will introduce a whole range of new
features and functionality. The interface will be totally customizable;
all users will have access to the template builder; features such as
drag and drop, predictive text, and improved text editing will be
implemented throughout the system; and collaboration between PebblePad
users will be supported through features such as the template library
and the capacity to connect with PebblePad users around the world.
Company profile:Pebble Learning is based in the UK and
comprises two UK Directors, an eportfolio consultant, and a team of 20
developers and customer support staff. The Australasian business is
managed by a local Director/consultant.
Customer base/size: Operational installations of PebblePad = 100+ across the UK and Australasia equating to approximately 0.5 million users.
Student license pricing model:Any individual user can
purchase a PebblePad account directly from Pebble Learning. The majority
of users are part of an institution/organization that has purchased
PebblePad for its student/members and therefore the institutional
pricing model applies..
Institutional pricing model:Institutions purchase PebblePad
on a per user basis. As user numbers increase the per user price
decreases. Minimum per user costs are available to institutions that
take out an enterprise licence. Upon leaving an institution that uses
PebblePad a student is eligible for a free one year personal licence. At
the end of this year the student can choose to continue to purchase a
personal licence or export their content.
Postgraduate/transfer student license model: Postgraduate/transfer students come under the institution model as described above.
Institution service agreement model:From the initial
reporting of an issue we will investigate and respond within 24 hours.
Our initial response will include an estimated timescale for a
For all major issues we will endeavor to resolve the issue within 48
hours with a patch being made available after appropriate testing.
For minor issues we will endeavor to resolve the issue within 7
working days and make any fixes available in the next appropriate patch.
Minor issues will not normally warrant the release of a patch unless a
significant number of issues are cumulatively causing a more serious
Under normal operation updates will be released once a year in early July. Patches will be released up to 6 times a year.
Online support information: PebblePad comes with full inbuilt
help resources. These can be accessed from anywhere in the system are
context sensitive. In addition comprehensive tipsheets aimed at
supporting the teacher can be accessed from within the various
institution tools within PebblePad. The PebblePad website also contains
support information, FAQs, help movies, and user tipsheets.
Institutional support services (Free): Pebble Learning is
committed to offering the highest possible level of customer support and
service. All our license fees include full support and maintenance.
The following areas are all part of our inclusive support offering:
• Fault diagnosis and resolution
• Periodic upgrades to the system
• Assistance in system use.
Support is provided via access to our customer support website, email support and telephone support.
Institutional support services (Feebased): Available fee based
support includes onsite consultancy, training, and bespoke system
customization and development. Our aim is to support successful
implementation and we will work closely with customers to achieve this.
IT staffing requirements: IT staffing requirements are largely
dependent upon the type of PebblePad implementation. Where PebblePad is
hosted on Pebble Learning servers and integrated with institution
systems, enabling many processes to be automated, the IT staffing
requirements are minimal. If PebblePad is self-hosted and/or not
integrated with institution systems, requiring account creation and
gateway management to be manual processes, greater staffing resources
will be required.
- System Requirements End User: PebblePad requires Flash 8 Player or newer to be installed.
- System Requirements Server:PebblePad requires a Windows based server with Windows 2005 or 2008 server and MS SQL Server.