Author: Sarah Ruston

PebblePad V5

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PebblePad logo

PebblePad has moved from v3 (used Flash) to v5 (uses html5). The main difference is to Pebble+ – the personal space within PebblePad – where assets are created, shared and stored.

ATLAS, the assessment area within PebblePad, remains unchanged.

Everything in your Pebble+ account has transferred over into the new version.

The main differences:

  • Works on all mobile devices and looks and behaves the same, no matter what device is used.
  • Drag and drop to add files to your asset store.
  • Improved text editing functions – you can use your mouse to copy and paste text.
  • All Assets and Resources are in one place – no separate tabs for shared assets any more.

Here are some guides to help you navigate your way around the new version:

PebblePad v5: click the link to see what the new interface looks like; how to create assets; upload files; share with people or for assessment and Alumni information.

Academic PPDR instructions: click the link to find out how to fill out your Academic PPDR for the first and subsequent years.

Don’t forget, you can take your PebblePad account and all its contents with you if you leave or graduate from the university and you can continue to use it FREE forever. Just register for an Alumni account before you leave or graduate.

CASE STUDIES SERIES: Emma Moore, BSc (Hons) Nursing Delivery

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What was the problem/challenge you were trying to address?

The Pre-Registration Undergraduate Nursing Programme used one large Blackboard site per cohort.

With multiple instructors across multiple locations, all modules (28) were within this one site. Announcements were often sent to all users when they should have been targeted to a specific group of students or a specific site.

For Instructors undertaking marking, the numerous Turnitin portals made it difficult to find work to mark, and this also applied to External Examiners reviewing work online. For students, there were a number of Turnitin portals for modules and this sometimes led them to submit to all portals they could see (just in case….) due to confusion.

What did you do/implement?

We adopted SITS-linked module sites initially for all first years starting in September 2015 (including the Working Together modules). The rationale for starting with the first years was so that this was accepted as the way they would see their modules, and not seen as a change half way through their teaching. It would become the new ‘norm’. The other programmes would continue on the old-style sites until completion.

In addition, we created a whole cohort Programme site for generic programme-level information that applied to all pathways. Information included External Examiner reports, student forum reports, job opportunities, programme overview (which included placement information, timetables and holidays) and PSRB specific information. This is a non-teaching site.

By using the module approach for teaching, communication was much more targeted and students were clear about where to look for module related information. We were also able to link to electronic reading lists.

What advice would you give to others looking to implement something similar? (positives, negatives, lessons learned

On the whole it has been a positive experience. Staff on each module know where they are posting information/resources. Marking is easier to access and the new External Examiners’ reviews have been easier to find. The module teams have reported that they enjoyed the freedom to develop their module specific sites based on the template applied, and some changed the look-and-feel of the site by changing the banner/colour schemes, etc.

Negatives: Staff needed to get used to having a long list of sites on their Blackboard My Institution page. We had to be careful about the naming of each site so that the cohort was clearly identified, as staff would be teaching the same module for both the September intake as well as the March intake.

Lessons learned: Use of groups when large numbers of students were involved was very helpful. Groups can be created which the students don’t see, but can be used for administration, for example, groups for each pathway or site of delivery. This then enables more targeted site or pathway specific information to be delivered. We could also use these groups for marking when multiple teams are working on the same module. We also discovered that a single submission portal for assignments means it is clearer for the students to submit to. Previously, we had made portals for each site and pathway and for extensions and students had submitted to more than portal when unsure which one to submit to. We were also using anonymous marking, so these errors were not immediately apparent.

Have you adapted/changed anything subsequently?

Since then, the subsequent intakes are all on SITS-module sites and staff are now used to this way of working.

What is the evidence on the impact of students and their learning?

The changes we made were not to the way that we delivered our teaching, but more to the administration and organisation of our delivery. Students just see this as the way we work, so it is difficult to measure impact. However, we are certain that students are now clear where to look for information and also, where to submit their assignments to.

What do you plan to do next?

We review the template each year to ensure that it reflects current information and is user friendly for both students and staff. Staff are being encouraged to implement further use of educational technology within their sites, such as podcasts, narrated PowerPoints and we hope to develop the use of PebblePad further within the programme.

Here is an example of one of our OLD Blackboard sites, with 27 separate Menu items:

As we used one Blackboard site for 3 years of study, the Turnitin submission points became very busy. At the end of the three years, this site had 95 separate submission points.

 

This is how things look now:

Programme site

All teaching delivered via separate Module sites following the same stucture:

 

 

CASE STUDY SERIES: Lisa Smith, Senior Lecturer in Emergency and Urgent Care

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health-practice-development-2Using Blackboard Blogs for structured learning activities

Lisa Smith recently took over the leadership of several modules on the Practice Development Framework. Some of the modules have some face to face elements but others are delivered totally online.

Structured materials and resources are provided via Blackboard with the main learning and interaction takes place through weekly ‘thread work’.

These are structured topics of research which the students need to post their findings on.

There is also the expectation that they will also read and respond to work posted by their peers and in this way they learn from each other.

What was the challenge you were trying to address?

As a distance learning module with a large number of students (60+) I was looking at a way to manage the Discussion Boards better. I give individual feedback to threads, and found it hard to keep track of the Discussion Board postings I had already marked.

I also wanted the students from all levels of study (5, 6 and 7) to work together as  I felt they would all benefit from seeing all the work submitted by their peers. The approach of putting them into smaller groups depending on their level, defeated this objective.

What did you do/implement?

I sought assistance from Sarah Ruston in AQD who suggested using Blackboard Blogs rather than a Discussion Board. The rationale for this suggestion is that:

  •  you can instantly see exactly what each student has posted
  • unread posts are ‘flagged’ so you quickly know which you have already read
  • whether anyone has commented on each blog posting

Essentially, students can post their thread work and easily choose another student’s work to read without having to scroll through large numbers of posts as was the practice on a discussion board.

What advice would you give to others looking to implement something similar?

Seek advice from the learning technologists!

The experience was excellent and well received by students, a number of points came to mind when considering this question:

Positive points:

  • With a large number of students it is easier to see who has submitted and who hasn’t Rather than having to scroll down through large numbers of threads you can just click on each student’s blog and read their work and the comments of other students.
  • The students themselves are still able to easily engage.
  • When marking thread work you can see who you have read and those who have submitted since the last time you accessed the blog.

Negative point

There was very little to be negative about but if I had to identify something, it would be the absence of an edit feature after feedback has been posted.  If you have written something and want to correct it after submitting it, you cannot simply go back and edit it.  You have to copy your original comment, delete it and then paste it into a new comment with the edits. This is only a very minor negative though.

Words of warning

If you are going to implement Blogs, make sure you do it from the outset. I  decided to introduce this approach after students had already engaged via a Discussion Board.

I quickly realised I would struggle with this particular module as I had so many students on it. So implemented the Blog for week 2 of the thread work. Some students got a little confused with the new process, however we gave them a lot of guidance on how to submit, but some still got a little lost.

Make sure that the ‘Group Blog’ feature is turned off (if you are using Groups in your Blackboard site) as this will give students two places to submit to and cause great confusion – learn from my mistake!

Have you adapted/changed anything subsequently?

All my modules now use Blogs for threadwork submissions.

What is the evidence on the impact of students and their learning?
At first the students need a little help to navigate the blogs but this settles down quickly.  Both the major’s and minor’s modules showed a high level of interaction between the students.  A recent student evaluation mentioned that they enjoyed using the blogs.

What do you plan to do next?

Use blogs for all thread work in the future.

 

How the blog looks to users:

blog

An example blog posting and related comment:

blog-comments

 

CASE STUDY SERIES: Peter Tankard, Senior Lecturer, Secondary Education and School Direct UPL

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“The best way to eat a bunch of grapes”  Supporting School Direct students at a distance using PebblePad

The Core Science PGCE began to use PebblePad several years ago to track trainees’ progress whilst they were on placement. This was a small-scale pilot to try to improve communications whilst trainees were on placement.

Prior to adopting the system, when trainees went on placement their record keeping and tracking was historically not very satisfactory. In Peter’s words: “everything felt really asynchronous – trainees went on placement and came back and that was it – there was no ongoing dialogue”. Very few trainees kept in touch whilst in school so tutors didn’t really know how the trainee was progressing until they visited them on site. Trainees were also expected keep a weekly reflective log to regularly reflect on their teaching delivery and record mentor meetings. In many cases, this did not happen. “There was no real sense of trainees keeping on top of things and they would write things retrospectively once they returned from placement, which was far from ideal as the reflections were much less meaningful”. The Science team found the use of PebblePad a bit of a breakthrough as, even though not in ‘real time’, there was much more of a sense of this ongoing dialogue regarding a trainee’s progress. Such was the success of this small pilot, in 2013/14, the whole core secondary PGCE team adopted PebblePad for use in this way.

Moreover, the trainees’ use of PebblePad was extended to incorporate an ongoing portfolio of evidence and reflections with regard to their workplace learning across both phases of their ‘in school’ training. This work was shared to a secure area which allowed university personal tutors access to monitor trainees’ progress and gave tutors the ability to offer feedback and suggestions in a timely manner. Staff could also offer prompts if trainees seemed to be falling behind. Most trainees engaged with this process extremely well and saw the benefits of using a system like PebblePad, but sadly there were a few that didn’t. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that those trainees that did engage made the most rapid progress. Of course this could be due to a multitude of other, unrelated factors and dispositions. In a similar way, some tutors engaged well and really saw the benefits of working in this way

With the advent of School Direct from 2014 onwards, where trainees are based in schools and ‘learning on the job’, the university needed a robust way to track trainees’ progress whilst they were largely in schools. It was decided to use PebblePad as the system was already established across the programme and most staff had a good working knowledge so one barrier had already been addressed.

As an aside, and around the same time, the PebblePad system was upgraded and the new version introduced many enhanced reporting features and functions behind the scenes, which most of the teaching team did not know about until they were demonstrated. Peter calls this serendipity:“We started using PebblePad in one way then, when staff saw its worth, it was then re-designed to get the best out of the trainees and provide a rich vein of data for the programme

On the School Direct programme, at the outset, trainees begin by observing taught lessons, then they move on to delivering lessons themselves. They are constantly observed by mentors and have targets applied regularly. All of these ‘occurrences’ are meaningful learning moments that trainees needed to capture and reflect upon straight away. If trainees did not complete the reflections soon after the occurrence (as was largely the case in the pre-PebblePad days), they would almost render the experience worthless as new learning would be occurring all the time. Reflection is arguably a fundamental skill for a professional. Peter said “our aim was, that by getting trainees to complete the weekly reflections in the workbook, we would produce better teachers at the end. Having dialogue throughout (between trainee and University Partnership Lecturer) made the learning more meaningful, targeted and progressive”.

What did you do/implement?
A bespoke workbook was created for the School Direct trainees and, using adaptive release, pages were released at certain points during the year. Staff were careful not to ‘over-face’ the trainees with too many pages at the outset so just the pages needed for the first term were released at the beginning. Peter refers to this as the ‘thin end of the wedge’ – make the workbook simple and easy to use and then release more complex material in stages. It was important the everyone became comfortable with the software before ‘raising the bar’ in terms of the tasks.

“You cannot eat a cluster of grapes at once, but it is very easy if you eat them one by one” (Roumain)  
Support:
Trainees needed to develop their skills very rapidly, therefore short support videos were provided outlining what trainees needed to know. This support resource was created in PebblePad and linked to the first page of the workbook. It showed trainees how they could fill in their weekly reflections and how to document targets set by their mentors. Ultimately, the aim of the workbook was to develop trainees’ reflective skills throughout the course.

Have you adapted/changed anything subsequently?
We refine the workbook each year and sometimes ‘in year’ which is the absolute strength of using workbooks. Also, the reporting function is extremely powerful and the ability to collect data is another of PebblePad’s selling points. The university can download this vast amount of this accrued data to spreadsheets and disseminate it simply to where it’s needed. This was the feature that the more reticent staff were sold on“.

“Pebble Pocket is awesome!”
The mobile app is very versatile for School Direct trainees, and is used, for example, to record transcripts of mentor meetings. When trainees meet with their mentor, they have a conversation and agree targets. A paper-based form is completed which they both sign. The trainee is able to take a photograph of this form with their mobile, and send it directly to their PebblePad asset store using a Wifi connection. This form can then form part of their QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) evidence and added to their workbook.

School based mentors can see a real benefit with this process. In the past, they would’ve held the meeting with their trainee and the trainee was then expected to go away and write up notes of the meeting ‘after the fact’. Mentors were never fully sure that all information was being recorded in trainees’ portfolios, especially if reprimands or hard targets were issued. Now, the mentor knows that the meeting is being documented in a much more realistic way.

What is the evidence on the impact of trainees and their learning?
PebblePad is not currently used for ‘formal’ learning as such, but is more of a developmental tool to enhance reflection skills which, in turn, arguably enhances their learning. Peter would like to develop this area in the future as he feels there is a lot of potential to use PebblePad in a more formal way.

Impact on Staff……
In addition to the School Direct workspaces, Peter has also created a Quality Assurance workspace just for academic staff to use. Each time they visit a school, the university tutor will fill in an electronic form and send it to the workspace for that school. This is a really simple and efficient way to keep all information on a school in one place and is especially useful for consistency if there are staff changes either in school or at the university. It will be especially useful outlining where a school possibly needs to improve and when Ofsted carry out their inspections.

What do you plan to do next?
I don’t know, but as soon as someone presents a problem, my immediate thought is ‘how can we do this in PebblePad”

Student submissions:

peter-t-sumissions-page

Staff can see when a student last accessed their workbook and also how complete it is (%age figure).

An example of a Secondary PGCE workbook with feedback.

NB Feedback can be added as free-text or an electronic feedback form can be designed and used: 

peter-t-workbook-and-feedback

An example of the electronic feedback form staff filled in when marking students’ work:

peter-t-electronic-feedback-form

CASE STUDY SERIES: Volker Deecke, Associate Professor, Centre for Wildlife Conservation

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Use of a common course-specific Blackboard template (all Conservation modules)

Traditionally each module leader on the Conservation provision had set up his/her own module Blackboard site. This had the effect that equivalent content was in different locations on different sites and caused considerable confusion for the students. The problem was exacerbated by the fact the many teaching staff did not have access to Blackboard sites other than the ones they were teaching on which provided limited opportunity for exchange of best practice. Sarah Ruston (AQD) helped design and share a common template for all Forestry and Conservation Blackboard sites to standardise the look and the navigation.

bb-template-design

The template provided an effective way to standardise the layout of the module Blackboard sites while at the same time enabling module tutors to  customise their sites (e.g., by including custom banners and colour schemes). The latter was important so as to avoid students (and staff) getting confused as to which Blackboard site they were accessing at any given point. Student feedback about the standardisation was very positive and the new layouts were welcomed at the staff-student forums. The exercise also had the benefit that now course leaders and external examiners were now automatically enrolled on the relevant module Blackboard sites.

 

CASE STUDY SERIES: Kath Norris, Principal Lecturer in Education

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ioe-logoTransition to Employment Documentation for Primary Teacher Trainees on PebblePad

 

What was the problem/challenge you were trying to address?

At the end of their QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) courses all Initial Teacher Education (ITE) trainees must record their areas of strength and areas they need to develop in their first year of employment using a document called the CEDP (Career Entry and Development Profile). Their targets must be linked to the Teachers’ Standards and be made available to the school at which they gain employment. The secondary trainees already use PebblePad to track their progress throughout the course ending with the completion of a CEDP. Primary courses however don’t use PebblePad and with several hundred primary trainees on a range of different QTS courses at the University,  the recording and dissemination of their transition documents was very problematic. As part of the new Ofsted inspection framework for ITE trainees, targets are scrutinised by inspectors to assess their effectiveness for the individual trainees in their first teaching job and so it is imperative that these targets are quality assured by the UoC. In the past we have relied on the trainees themselves taking a paper copy of their CEDP to the school on their first visit.

What did you do/implement?

With the help of Sarah Ruston, the IoEs NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) Coordinator designed an electronic CEDP to be completed via PebblePad. The CEDP records not only these targets,  but also provides a place to record the trainee’s place of employment, alumni contact information and it also includes a link to the Bristol on-line exit survey which all students need to complete. All the programme leaders and personal tutors were given access to their trainees’ completed CEDPs via a PebblePad workspace, allowing them to ensure the quality of their targets before they go out to Head Teachers in the employing schools. This is done during a tutorial after the trainees have completed their CEDP electronically. It proved to be a very useful source of evaluative data as 644 forms were captured in one place.

What advice would you give to others looking to implement something similar? (positives, negatives, lessons learnt)

This was a very straight forward process once the trainees had been enrolled, helped by the very useful simple guidance put together by Sarah for both staff and trainees. One of the issues was that we only wanted to send part of the CEDP to schools and this proved impossible as the form could not be easily split into sections so my advice would be to use a “book” format instead of a “form” format so that information can be extracted as required. Next year we will design the form differently.

Have you adapted/changed anything subsequently?

The new CEDP for 2016/17 will allow for the strengths and targets section to be extracted and emailed to schools.

What is the evidence on the impact on students/your processes?

Students preferred to complete their CEDPs electronically and appreciated that all their “course exit tasks” ie completing the CEDP, the destination information and the exit survey were in one place. Feedback from tutors was also positive as they thought the process was straight forward and valued the immediate access to the CEDPs via the PebblePad workspace, to allow for the timely beginning of the QA process. It has also meant that we have a complete set of documentation captured electronically eliminating the risk of losing forms. The Alumni office has been given access to the destination data and values the ability to transfer employment data into Raisers Edge electronically. This also facilitates our ability to send on-line surveys to employing Head Teachers.

We now have access to a lot of valuable data which PebblePad can assimilate for us. It can group together the answers given by respondents of the forms, which give us really useful information such as who has filled in the form, which programme they are on and have they found a teaching job, if so, where and what key stage will be taught.

Here are some examples of the types of information that can be extracted:

Responses broken down into Programmes

pie-chart-1

Employment Secured? Yes/No

pie-chart-2

If employed in school, which Key Stage will you teach?

 

bar-chart-1

What do you plan to do next? 

As mentioned above this process will continue for 2016/17 and the relevant information will be sent to schools electronically in the summer of 2017. It is important that the trainees record the URNs of their employing schools to distinguish between schools of the same name so this will be emphasised to trainees and facilitated by a link on the form to the web-site containing all the URNs of the schools in the country.

CASE STUDY SERIES: Charlotte Hardacre, Lecturer, Working with Child and Family Studies.

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  Using PebblePad in PhD Research …… and much, much more.

Following attendance at a summer research workshop provided by AQD, which outlined the potential of using PebblePad for research, Charlotte decided to use the personal learning system to collate and manage the information she was gathering for her PhD research.

Early drafts, literature searches, blogs and records of meetings with her supervisor are all stored within Charlotte’s asset store and linked within a webfolio. She finds it particularly useful to be able to share this document, as it’s evolving, with her supervisor. Her supervisor makes comments on her work  and now all their comments and interaction are all in one place.
She uses the mobile app, Pebble Pocket, to upload assets such as photographs and voice recordings to her asset store without having to ‘do anything with wires’ – she simply sends the item via wifi and it is ready to incorporate into her emerging webfolio.
Video: How Charlotte uses PebblePad in her research (7:48mins):
placeholder-for-research
Students using PebblePad:
Not only does Charlotte use PebblePad for her research, she also uses it within a creative module she leads within the Working with Children and Families programme.

In this module, students are tasked with creating an artifact comprising a story-sack which is designed to be used within family sessions. Students have to document the creation of their story sack – why they chose the subject theme, its evolution and a reflection on its usefulness. Students take photographs of their work as it progresses and include these in their webfolio with their reflections. Their work builds up over time.

The work is marked via PebblePad and the EE has access to the work too.
Video: How Charlotte uses PebblePad with her students (1:53mins):
placeholder-with-students
Charlotte also used PebblePad as a Student:

Charlotte first used PebblePad as a student herself on the PgC in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE) and for her Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

So this thorough grounding gave her a good understanding of what the students need to know.
“I found it straightforward and not a challenge and so was really confident in explaining how to use it to students”.

The WCF team also use PebblePad in their Leadership and Management module and students are expected to upload their CVs into PebblePad.

“In the 21st Century, sending a weblink as your CV and personal statement makes more sense  than sending  word documents”.  

Students can register for an alumni account when they leave the university and this is FREE FOREVER. So whatever they have created and stored in their PebblePad accounts whilst they were a student, will still be accessible to them forever.

Using PebblePad as a Student (1:16mins):

placeholder-as-a-student

 

 

PebbleBash 2016

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banner

I recently attended the above Conference at the Technology Innovation Park, University of Wolverhampton. This Conference was a ‘global gathering’ and brought together established users of PebblePad from Australia and the UK with new users of the system, Canada and America for the first time. PebblePad conferences happen in the UK every 2 years and are renowned for their friendliness, collegiality and the obligatory ceilidh. The two days were brimmed full with the sharing of good practice, inspirational speakers and plenty of ideas to take away. As with any conference, it is good to get totally immersed with like-minded people and hear fresh ideas and approaches to current PebblePad usage from all over the world, by universities and professional bodies alike.

The University of Cumbria has been a user of PebblePad since its inception in 2005, and thus, we were one of the more established users at the event (along with Bradford, Edinburgh and Wolverhampton). We have seen it through its various stages from early ‘Classic’ (remember those plopping pebbles?) to Version 3 (our current version) and to looking ahead at Version 5 which most universities transferred over to this summer. (By way of explanation, we didn’t feel that the product was ‘ready enough’ for our students and staff at this moment in time, as major functions such as ‘Collaborate’ aren’t in the new version yet. They will be by the time we transfer across in the summer of 2017.)

Newer users of PebblePad have solely begun to use Version 5; so-called as it is written in HTML5 which means it will work on any PC, laptop or mobile device and will behave in exactly the same way on whichever device is used. Flash has now been written out of the operating system entirely, which proved so troublesome for Apple-based products for many years. These new users were brimming with ideas of how they currently use the system and are discovering more about it as time progresses. One clear theme that came through is, once students get to grips with using the system, the standard of creative work which emerges out of given tasks is far superior to standard written formats. Version 5 is heralded as the easiest yet to use, with items added via drag and drop.

Some of the ideas being showcased were not new to us, for example, using PebblePad for annual review processes, but others were quite unique, for example, using PebblePad to track dissertation proposals through from initial idea and meetings, through to allocation of supervisors, recording of meetings and collecting all the paperwork surrounding this complex process into one place. What did emerge is that where PebblePad has been enthusiastically adopted, students and staff were reaping good rewards out of the system.

Throughout the course of the two days, I saw demonstrations of how some institutions use PebblePad to map their NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) Professional Standards; others use it to track their TTA (Teacher Training Agency) Professional Standards, and many more use it for a variety of ‘soft’ employability skills – equivalent to our Career Ahead offer. Students in many institutions are ‘gifted’ (yes they speak of it as a gift they give to their students) with PebblePad and are expected to use it to chart their development through their studies. Inspiring talks demonstrated how PebblePad were used for health OSCEs (practical assessments); paramedic training, history artefact creation and website design, dentistry to name but a very few subjects.  All inspiring stuff.

I particularly liked the use Plymouth make of PebblePad. All students compile a portfolio – called their Compass. There are 4 elements to their portfolio and students are tasked with collecting evidence and reflect on the following areas:

  • The Critical and Creative Learner
  • The Sustainable and Global Citizen
  • The Confident and Competent Professional
  • The Resilient and Thinking Individual

If students compile their Compass, overseen by the Employability Skills service they get acknowledgement for the work and recognition for it is added onto their final transcript upon graduation.

A clear pattern emerged, success stories come from institutions who have senior management or service buy-in to PebblePad; where managers model good behaviour; where student support in the use of the system is available and where it is just ‘the norm’. It does make me realise that, in attending an event like this, we are not using PebblePad to its full potential and that it can be used for so much more than it currently is. We will be moving onto a new version of PebblePad next summer and it would be great to get some revitalisation into its use. Showcasing, show-stopping, show-offing  – that’s what it’s all about. Let’s make ourselves future ready in our use of this creative and innovative system. If you’d like to talk PebblePad to me anytime, my email is sarah.ruston@cumbria.ac.uk

All the presentations and videos can be found here: http://www.pebblebash.co.uk/2016/presentations.aspx