Learning to let go and other lessons learnt 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 …. Pedagogic 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 technologies. 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 PebblePad-based learning and teaching/Pebblegogy has the 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 ‘claims’ about e-portfolio-based 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 expected. 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. Democratising 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 educators. 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 learning? (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 journeying! Now for the really important bit Jason Pell, PGCE student 10-11, newly qualified and employed!