What Pebble+ can do to enhance student learning

SALT’s IT Month kicked off with two contrasting uses of some of the features of Pebble+ to enhance student learning.  Pebble+ is available directly from the University’s home.swan.ac.uk portal for staff or is a tool inbuilt in Blackboard, the virtual learning environment.

Joanne Berry from Arts and Humanities showed how she addressed increased variety and authenticity in her assessment approach by getting students to work in groups and create webfolios showcasing their research on aspects of Pompeii as well as blogging about their reflection on the groupwork and task.

Image of man at computer with the words Web design behind it

Students thought webfolios meant creating websites and were scared at the thought of this.

Many students were scared at the thought of creating websites and a very small number dropped the module when it dawned on them the nature of the assessment.  However, some of the amazing outcomes of this approach is that many of the webfolios are to a very high standard with amazing creativity – some are worthy of actual publishing on the web to share with others.  (One of the advantages of using webfolios in Pebble+ is that such material can be created but not shared on the Internet unless agreed to by the student developing it).

The regularly submitted personal blogs as part of the webfolio enabled Jo to monitor how the groups  were functioning and to intervene.  In sharing some of the students’ comments, it revealed how many had grown in confidence (after initially being apprehensive) and also had developed great employability skills from this task.  The impact on student learning was amazing! Jo presented her findings (via recorded presentation at the recent PebbleBash conference.)

As a complete contrast in using the features of Pebble+, Steve Beale from English Language Training Services shared his growing pains of trialling what would be a suitable way of enabling their students to upload electronic versions of their marked mark, addressing a pressing space limitation issue within the department.  Steve shared some noteworthy tips on the differences between webfolios (more creativity and freedom) with the Workbook feature (more control and standardised responses) and how in particular he had to create additional guides and videos on using Pebble+ for those students who weren’t as computer literate as others.  Getting students used to this feature of uploading their work and progress grades was a first step.  The next step is to encourage the students to reflect on their progress and review their strengths and weaknesses.  Templates within Pebble+ will enable them to do this.

This was a great session to kick off IT month, with lots of questions and interest from those attending to have a go… would any turn up for the more practical session the next week on how to build the webfolio and use the reflective tools?  Find out in my next post.

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