Learning to let go and other lessons learnt

Learning to let go and other lessons
Pebblegogy Conference
21st June 2011
Julie Hughes
[email protected]
University of Wolverhampton
Setting the scene – the ups and downs
There is evidence that e-portfolio implementation can be like a
game of snakes and ladders where initial rapid progress can suffer
major setbacks due to a poor understanding of the nature of eportfolios. Joyes, Gray and Hartnell-Young, 2010.
For me PebblePad-based teaching
and learning/pebblegogy is like ….
bungee jumping
Learning (and teaching – my addition) in higher education calls for a
courage on the part of the learner/teacher and a will to leap into a
kind of void. There is bound to be uncertainty.
A pedagogy of air opens up spaces and calls for a will to learn on the
part of the student/teacher; to learn even amid uncertainty. In the
process, it is just possible that the student/teacher may come into a
new mode of being (Barnett 2007, p.1).
Teachers and the taught teach each other. Their roles are interwoven,
such that their boundaries become indistinct to some extent (Barnett
2007, p.132).
We are witnessing ‘a new model of education’ rather than a new
model of learning’ as ‘our understanding of e-learning matures, so our
appreciation of the importance of theory deepens…we see how
learning can be socially situated in a way never previously possible’.
(Mayes and de Freitas 2007, p.13)
Pedagogical bungee jumping may be catching
(Barnett 2007, p.133).
How do we/does pebblegogy encourage risk and
bungee jumping into the void?
How do we (begin to) learn to let go?
Picture links – what do the pictures suggest
about teaching and learning in PebblePad?
Just because a technology was designed for
one purpose, it does not mean it won’t be
used for another. Once tools get ‘out into
the wild’ they are appropriated in multiple
and complex ways.
Bicycles came to be appropriated in the
struggle for women’s emancipation...
record players changed from being
instruments for dictation for tools for
capturing and sharing musical cultures.
Technologies are shaped and reshaped by
beta testers, by early adopters ... by their
users (addition mine).
(Facer 2011, pp.6-7).
PebblePad allowed
me/liberated me to journey, to
create, to connect, to model, to
inspire in ways I had never
imagined with earlier
Web 2.0 tools should be as open and
as inviting of creativity as possible;
and offer platforms where people
can truly make their mark, express
themselves and shape the
environment...expressive messiness...
is therefore to be encouraged
(Gauntlet 2011, p.225).
Turning to the chapter
wonderful potential to challenge both
students and their educators to do
things differently.
Here, and in the chapter, I am making a
deliberate point to develop my earlier
learning. It is PebblePad as space, as
system, as way of being, as practice(s)
that supports PPBL - Pebblegogy.
PebblePad is a disruptive technology which
challenges the educator to re-think and re-do
their pedagogy (Beetham & Sharpe 2007, p.3).
So be prepared, whether a novice or more
experienced user of the system, for some highs
and lows in implementation and embedding and
take heart from the fact that this is to be
Lessons learnt
Start with your curriculum, its design, its principles and values and
consider how and where simple PebblePad-based activities might
extend and enhance the learning experience. It’s much better in the
long-term to start small and simple and feel in control of the
intervention than roll out an ill-thought mass activity that leaves
students and educators with a negative experience.
Some colleagues simplistically assume that PebblePad will do the
pedagogic work for them. Whereas others plan overly ambitious
complex activities that leave students confused and sometimes
frustrated. Wherever possible give yourself time to plan, reflect,
practise and share your intended use of PebblePad. And whenever
possible undertake this as part of a team/community.
If this is your first time teaching online you will need to consider your
online identity and the shift in digital literacies. Some colleagues
struggle to find their online identities and voices in spaces such as
PebblePad. This is because learning and teaching identities are
democratised as the ‘power’ rests with the owner of the asset and the
permissions granted to others. This may also be viewed as powerfully
transgressive and disruptive – in a positive way.
One of my colleagues, Cathie, said that teaching in PebblePad was
about learning to let go and this can be a painful struggle for some
Growing your own
It is vital to grow your PebblePad community for pebblegogy
practices to flourish. As identified today, our students are a
rich resource who have much to teach us about successful
learning in spaces such as PebblePad.
Students exposed to PebblePad-based learning and teaching
have told us that the benefits include: feeling supported in
the transitions into HE study, it personalises what could be a
mass impersonal experience, it provides a valuable tutorial
and welfare role, it provides valuable opportunities for peer
learning, anytime anywhere learning, it provides time to
compose self in a blog setting rather than a physical
classroom, it also provides the opportunity for warmup/rehearsal of academic literacies and ongoing reflective
writing, iterative formative assessment and feedback.
Web 2.0 ways of teaching and
(from the 1990s to the mid-2000s) websites tended to be like
separate gardens...Web 2.0 describes a particular kind of
ethos and approach....like a collective allotment. Instead of
individuals tending their own gardens, they come together to
work collaboratively in a shared space...
Web 2.0 invites users in to play (Gauntlett 2011, p.5-7).
PebblePad/Pebblegogy and the
example of the bicycle
Simply put, the bicycle allowed for movement into new spaces,
literally and figuratively. (It was) viewed as a tool for progressive
freedom. Hendrick
Today, over one billion people in the world use bicycles and the
bicycle is the principal means of transportation in many parts of
the world. Heinz Wolff
Bring on PP+ to link
up the bicycle and
the international
Now for the really important bit
Jason Pell, PGCE student 10-11, newly qualified
and employed!

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