Preview of PebblePad 3

Attended a PebblePad workshop in Preston today at which a demo of PebblePad 3 was given. Didn’t get the opportunity to play with it directly 😦 but some demo accounts may be available shortly so will keep my eyes open. Interface looks light and airy with more opportunities to use it a more like your desktop. Multiple asset types can be opened which is good. Text formatting within asset fields is also great, which will make blogs and webfolios better in appearance.

There is a social element that draws in from popular Social Networking apps, Facebook, Twitter and Blogger, as well as posts out. Institution tab acts like a portal with one stop login to other systems, pulling information in and linking out to more details, all admin customisable. The main difference is being able to completely customise the standard wizards and forms with your own designs. At the moment you can create new forms but not replace the standard set. The other useful feature is being able to replicate assets across multiple PebblePad accounts.

The workshop also went over some of the features in 2.5 and I now understand the potential of forms and gateways much better. One of the issues we have had with PebblePad and the disengaged students is being able to assess what they are having an issue with. If we had used the Gateway instead of a Blog we could have tracked student progress much better. The other thing I realised was how you can create a work booklet for students to complete as they progress through their studies. Again shared and published via a gateway, becomes an effective means of keep track of students you don’t meet face-to-face. Some good lessons learned today, Ill be definitely working on the booklet idea. Possibly as a means of implementing focus questions around the GROW model of coaching, for staff and students.

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First Coaching workshop for staff

Today we ran the first in a series of two coaching workshops with university tutors. The aim was to give them enough insight into the coaching process to start to change the type of conversation they have with their students during personal tutorials. Traditionally a tutorial would revolve around the student expressing areas of concern or difficult and the tutor providing them with direction on how to move forward. What we want to encourage is the tutor to find out first what the student is really after, and how they, the student, can draw on their own resources to resolve the issue or problem.

The group of tutors at the workshop are all running course that require the students to make decisions about their learning or career paths. Nick Halafihi and his team are looking to use coaching within their PDP module which builds towards student placement. Student placements are very affective and can give students an edge when it comes to finding employment after university. However they can be equally disastrous if the student discovers they are stuck doing something they don’t enjoy or find uninteresting. By using coaching during the PDP modules students should be able to make this placement choice with much more confidence in both the skills they can employee and their personal interactions.

Sarah Patrick is in the process of redesigning a course within Health that has multiple module options to enable students to create very specific specialisations. Again the choice to the student is critical to their future employability as well as enjoyment with the course on the whole. From personal experiences I have known students to select options because their friends are doing the module or because they perceive it as an easy number of credits. Quite often this is not a solid foundation for developing a career path that is enjoyable or interesting.

Sue Smith and Ian Truelove also attended as they are interested in how coaching can be used to support students and the tutorial process. It was a successful event and everyone seamed to enjoy the activities. Looking forward to the feedback and see if that collates with my thoughts and feelings.

Workshop on curriculum design and assessment – York

Yesterday I attended a workshop on curriculum design and assessment, organised by JISC through the HEA and held in York. This is an area I have very little practical experience with. As a research my opportunities to get involved in teaching tend to be at the practical delivery and support end rather than course development and design. On the other hand as a researcher I spend a lot of time learning and participating in course so I have had a lot of experience of the end product of curriculum design. Enough about me.
 
There were two particular applications that took my interest at the workshop. The first eReflect (University of Westminster) is an across module/course feedback system. This idea made me think about what information the coaches would need to discuss curriculum choices with their coachees (the learner) and how this could be gathered. The use of competency frameworks will enable skills and ability checks on a high level directing learners to fill in those gaps. But what happens once the module has been chosen, during the process of that module? Will coaching be required to motivate learners having difficulties during this period or even just identifying other areas for development. The use of a tool like eReflect would enable coaches to access the feedback given to learners while participating in a module, and thus ask more meaningful questions. Given my current knowledge of coaching (training is still some months off) I might be think in the wrong direction. The flip side to this is the possibility for the coaches to feedback to tutors, where learners feel this might be a benefit.

The second was an Assessment diary. I’m not sure which project mentioned this (possibly Teesside) , or it might have been someone during questions, but the idea is really neat and I think needs to have some form of implementation within PC3. If we are planning to enable flexibility and negotiation with learning and assement, learners are going to need some good organisational tools to keep track of everything. I suspect that what ever core platform we decided on (probably an ePortfolio) will have this tools embed. But it is worth noting and making sure they do.