On any given day, we're posed a range of questions by curious PebblePad and non-PebblePad users alike about the ways our expert and enthusiastic community is using PebblePad to support common teaching, learning and assessment ambitions. In addition to helping us understand how to keep building a better PebblePad, these questions reinforce a clear need for us to support the networking and sharing of practice between customers and across the wider higher education community. Indeed, we had almost 200 respondents from universities across the globe to our Global Ambitions in Higher Education Survey earlier this year, the results of which will be shared in our forthcoming publication – which as we speak is having the finishing touches applied.
Encouraging discussion and shared learning among our customers and providing opportunities for networking is something we at PebblePad are proud of and work hard to support - through global initiatives such as PebbleBash (sadly postponed this year) and the published case studies, and our Community site as well as more localised Special Interest Groups.
A recently formed group is the international PebblePad Research Community – a group that aims to support customers in writing and publishing about the work they are doing with PebblePad. The Research Community is borne out of a recognition that while there is plenty of innovative and effective use of PebblePad, we’re certain more research about use of the platform could be published. Often opportunities are missed for customers to share lessons learnt around implementing or using PebblePad and we were looking for ways to address this challenge. While chatting to Dr Duncan Cross from the University of Bolton, he and I felt that PebblePad could run a series of workshops designed to address this. Our immediate aims were to book an expert facilitator to set us on our research journey and plan a networking event. We envisaged the networking would help people find co-authors and critical friends.
Expert guidance and support
In March this year our plans had to change (I'm sure you know the feeling), and instead of a face-to-face event we ran a series of online workshops in June and July. We were lucky to book experts willing to run online workshops for us and their style and approach not only helped us gain knowledge about the research and publishing process, but also encouraged discussion and the first tentative networking steps.
Dr Liz Austen, Head of Evaluation and Research at Sheffield Hallam University, started our series with a webinar around the tricky issue of applying for ethics, ‘Ethical practice vs ethical approval’. The guidance around retrospectively applying for approval was useful for those of us who only latterly realise we have successfully redesigned learning and assessment and now would like to share that experience in a rigorous and well-researched manner.
Next, in what was beginning to feel like a summer school, was a three-day series of workshops from Sally Brown, Emerita professor at Leeds Beckett University, who led us through the process of writing for publication. This included sound advice on increasing the chances of being accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal and an overview of how to get a book proposal accepted by a publisher. At the end of the series it felt like we had given our professional development a good dose of TLC.
Importantly, the group is run by and for the community, so it was fitting that the series had a networking webinar led by Duncan and Sue Beckingham, both of whom have been key leaders in setting up this community. Among the issues addressed in this webinar included a number of suggestions for digital tools that will help with research and collaboration with other authors.
Looking ahead to September, we’re lucky to have PebblePad colleague Dr Jenny Masters lead us in a workshop that will help attendees to develop a research question, define a suitable methodology and build research instruments for data collection and analysis. You can register for the webinar using the button below this blog post.
We know that it may take a few years to see the fruits of this series of online workshops mature, but we feel it’s worth the investment. Through running workshops like this, we find that we learn alongside our customers, giving us the expertise to support those who are considering writing up and publishing their experiences, and we feel it’s important to give something back to customers who are seeking ways to evaluate their own practice and the PebblePad platform in a rigorous manner.
Join the Research Community
All of the PebblePad research community webinars were recorded and are available to you if you join the Teams site. To ask to join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’d like to attend our forthcoming webinar, Researching and Reporting on PebblePad Implementation, you can register by using the link below.