A short introduction to this blog and its author by Alison Poot.
We are absolutely delighted that Jacqui Patten has come to work with us as our Western Australian-based Implementation Specialist. I first met Jacqui back in 2012 when Edith Cowan University embarked on the PebblePad journey. It was very quickly apparent that they had made an excellent appointment getting Jacqui involved in their implementation. She was just the person for the job - enthusiastic, innovative, and with a ‘can do’ attitude that stood up to even the biggest doubters. Little did I know that she would soon be pushing all the PebblePad limits and asking for things that we hadn’t even thought of! Now that she’s on the team she can push those limits just that little bit harder, and we’re excited that her expertise can now be used to support all of our Western Australian customers and for her influence to be felt well beyond the WA borders in the years to come. With her 'can do' attitude firmly on display, in her debut blog post Jacqui reflects on the first few weeks in her new role.
As a starry-eyed young computer science graduate in Leicester, UK, my mission was to travel the world teaching people that computers are not scary. This dream became a reality when I worked for many years as a software business analyst in Europe and the US. Fast forward (many more years!) and, having landed in Australia, I was approached by the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Edith Cowan University to investigate a system called PebblePad. Since 2012 I have been supporting PebblePad implementation, predominantly in healthcare education. This is for the simple reason that it ticks all my boxes - innovative software, teaching and people. As far as my own personal learning journey goes, it feels like everything has led to this moment and I am exactly where I am supposed to be. The white sandy beaches of Western Australia may be a long way from my Liverpool roots but in many ways working for PebblePad feels like coming home.
I’ve been able to hit the ground running in my new role, being already familiar with some of the PebblePad community across WA. However, even in these early days the deeper understanding gained by visits across multiple institutions has REALLY opened my eyes to not only the perceived benefits but also the tangible results PebblePad is having in healthcare education in particular.
GATHERING EVIDENCE - NOT HOW, BUT WHY
Initially my view of PebblePad was shaped by the not-uncommon notion of gathering evidence to prove competence. This was particularly relevant in the healthcare sector, where student graduation is based upon the completion of industry-defined standards of practice. The challenge of keeping track of this across large cohorts was traditionally managed through paper-based workbooks. Then in stepped PebblePad. Using the powerful and flexible workbook builder, institutions were able to disseminate electronic workbooks that students could add evidence to, demonstrating their skills. This is a point of similarity deployed across many institutions - but what’s more interesting is the subtle differences they employ.
In addition to simplifying processes, I love how PebblePad enables flexibility and offers choice of complexity in workflows to suit the context - allowing, for example, the assessment of a range of competencies in seconds, whether by use of simple radio buttons through to multiple-level rubric-style tables. Clever stuff! However, the key thing here is to use the myriad of features wisely and select what is fit for purpose, not just the “shiny new toy” mode of thinking (which admittedly I have been prone to myself as a PebblePad practitioner). The conversations I’ve been involved in recently around things such as digital signatures (to use or not to use) and clever means of reporting have been fascinating. This insight across institutions will allow me to better serve our customers and help them decide what they really need and how best to achieve it. This is what makes the job of a PebblePad Implementation Specialist exciting, challenging and infinitely variable.
A NEED FOR RESULTS
At an institution level there will always be individuals who just ‘get’ what PebblePad is all about and can articulate what they want to achieve. What has been ground-breaking for me is hearing this verbalised by people who have seen the benefits and results through to fruition. At a very basic and fiscal level it saves money. At one WA institution 2500+ students in the School of Nursing alone will use a PebblePad workbook to document, reflect and be assessed during their clinical placement this coming semester. The cost and time of creating, updating, maintaining and printing these (hefty) documents has been removed. Administration teams who traditionally managed this process manually now do it through ATLAS, and have been pleasantly surprised that not only can they perform their traditional tasks more quickly but can also do more to support the academics, which in turn saves them time - which ultimately saves money.
However, the true benefit at an institution level is the visibility and transparency it affords them. If a student is not performing at the required standard in a formative assessment, a report can be generated to inform of this. A decision can then be made on how best to support the student and clinical area in this regard. The unit co-ordinator can quickly log on and see the development plan that has been put in place and add further comment and recommendations. This could never easily be achieved before PebblePad, and the result is a more supported, competent student and therefore increased potential for engagement and retention. This is particularly true and equitable for online students and those placed in rural areas.
A final point comes from a nursing student at Murdoch University (WA) who was presented with a PebblePad workbook on a screen beside a patient bed in a simulation lab. The idea is that the students watch a video of the patient handover in the workbook and use critical thinking choices to update it - which then becomes their own asset.
“PebblePad made the cases seem as real life as possible, we were able to link practice to theory and that really helps us with our learning... PebblePad was really useful in my degree as it helped me become a self-directed learner and really enhanced my critical thinking.”
This may not seem a tangible benefit in the monetary sense, but who wouldn’t employ a person who can articulate their learning like this?
As the newest member of the expanding PebblePad team I am looking forward to being part of what appears to be an extended family. The welcome has been warm and engaging and it’s inspiring to be around people who share common goals and an extreme passion for PebblePad. I am humbled by the knowledge and experience at everyone’s finger tips that I’ve come into contact with and look forward to being able to collaborate and learn more from my new colleagues and the wider PebblePad community.
If you'd like to hear more about how PebblePad can support the education of future health professionals and you're keen to learn more about the kinds of features and functionality you might want to consider, then why not download a copy of our Healthcare Education brochure.