Themes from ANZAPHE '17 and their relevance to eportfolio practice in healthcare education.

by Jodie Young, Alison Poot


Themes from ANZAPHE '17 and their relevance to eportfolio practice in healthcare education.

~ Health Education ~

AUGUST 2nd 2017
Jodie Young
Alison Poot


Another golden opportunity at ANZAHPE '17

In mid-July, PebblePad were proud to be the Gold sponsors of the 2017 Australian New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE) annual conference, a conference we have been associated with for many years. Held in Adelaide, South Australia, on the banks of the Torrens River, it was a fabulous opportunity to engage with health professional educators, learn more about their research and practice, and understand the current challenges in their field. While the delegates came from a wide range of health disciplines, it was interesting to note the many commonalities in the challenges that were discussed.

In this blog post, we provide a short overview of the key themes we took away from ANZAHPE 2017 and our reflections on their relevance to PebblePad and eportfolio practice. We've also made available a free health education resource pack for all readers – you'll find a number of download links throughout the post.

The image shows the PebblePad eportfolio exhibition stand at ANZAHPE 2017
The PebblePad exhibition stand at ANZAPHE '17 – home to many great conversations.
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A consistent thread running through many of the ANZAPHE '17 presentations was how best to help learners make sense of and cope with transitional experiences. Capturing, reflecting on and sharing experiences is seen as a key means of nurturing resilience - PebblePad is a great fit for this approach.

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Transition was the overarching theme of this year's conference, and in the words of the conference convenors "Transition asks us to consider where we have been, where we are and where we are going in our personal, professional and organisational learning journeys." A consistent thread running through many of the presentations was how best to help learners make sense of and cope with transitional experiences, whether that be orientation to university, first clinical experiences, or the transition from learner to intern or health professional. Stressful experiences can either foster or inhibit learning and there was a lot of discussion over the three days about how to support learners to ensure that these transitional periods are optimal learning experiences.  Capturing, reflecting on and sharing experiences is seen as a key means of nurturing resilience. Presenters shared many creative ways of helping learners to identify and reflect on pivotal experiences: activities ranging from constructing narratives as written reflections or as longitudinal audio diaries, through to working with metaphor, or taking photos and supplying narrative captions.

PebblePad is a great fit for this approach, providing a personal, private space for learners to document and then reflect on their experiences, with multi-media options enabling learners to record experiences in various formats. PebblePad provides scaffolding in the form of templates to help structure written records and, more importantly, the associated reflection, a process which many learners find extremely difficult.  Any records can then be shared with others to invite comment and feedback, helping to build the learner's understanding of the transition experience, the learning, and their response.

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The combination of reflective and feedback processes supported in PebblePad supports collaborative learning across cohorts as students reflect on their own practice and give and receive feedback on the practice of their peers.

Sheffield Hallam University

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How do learners begin to make evaluative judgements about the quality of their own work and the work of others? Peer learning and peer review activities afford opportunities to observe other’s performance and to have one’s own performance observed and discussed. Throughout the conference there were many discussions about the practicalities of providing these opportunities and enabling feedback and reflection.

As an example, one of our customers requires learners to video three attempts at a particular clinical skill (in simulation) and share them to the assessment space. One video is self-assessed, another peer-reviewed, and the third is assessed by a mentor. This combination of reflective and feedback processes facilitates collaborative learning across the cohort as students reflect on their own practice and give and receive feedback on the practice of their colleagues. If you'd like to view and download the full case study from our 2016 global conference, along with many other health education studies, just visit our conference resources page below.

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Another key area of discussion was interprofessional learning and collaboration. The best patient care often requires communication and coordination between a range of health professionals, and encouraging learners to collaborate with peers in a variety of contexts lays the foundation for building later professional relationships. In PebblePad, learners from different discipline areas can work collaboratively on a single item, giving them experience in understanding how their discipline knowledge fits together and enhances outcomes. Supervisors from the various disciplines can also view and contribute to the developing work, guiding their learners through these early interprofessional experiences.

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The third key theme from the conference is one that is ever-present whenever educators get together – identifying the most effective ways to give feedback and design assessment that is meaningful.  And rightly so, given the importance good feedback and assessment design has on motivating learners and advancing their development. Educators spoke about needing to develop feedback literacy – both for assessors and learners – and how best to ensure that feedback is designed as a process to be engaged in, not something that is 'done to' a learner at the end of a period of learning.  

The image shows the PebblePad eportfolio interface in a health education context
PebblePad supports reflection and evidencing on any device and offers integrated feedback and assessment.

PebblePad has been designed to support educators, assessors and learners in taking an active role in the feedback process, with a focus on this process as being formative, iterative and dialogic. Good course design encourages learners to self-assess, plan for future development and track development and achievement over time. PebblePad contains a range of tools to support these processes, always with the multiple duties of feedback in mind: improvement of skills, assisting with professional socialisation -the realisation of what it is to become a member of this profession, and capacity for development of self-evaluative skills. 

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The image shows a group of students in a clinical setting
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Many of the great discussions we had during the conference were with people who play a pivotal role in the learner experience during clinical placements. Clinical educators are in a unique position to guide, support and mentor learners during their clinical experiences, but also must act as assessors and arbiters of competence. Having access to a learner's workbook or other assets gives a clinical educator a wider insight into student progress, while also allowing academics to have a window into the clinical experience in real time, eliminating the need to wait until the learner returns to the university. We heard from the educators 'on location' about how important it is for learners to feel they have a connection back to their academic teachers while on placement, and for the clinical educators to be able to raise concerns or request intervention if necessary. It was great to hear how PebblePad can facilitate these clinical-academic partnerships and enhance the interactions learners have with their supervisors and mentors.

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PebblePad helps the university support the full clinical placement process through interactive, dynamic online workbooks. This approach has increased student engagement and improved communication between teachers, clinical partners and learners.

Monash University

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Conferences are an opportunity for sharing experiences and reflecting on practice – exactly the types of professional readiness activities we ask our learners to engage in. It was gratifying to confirm that what we value at PebblePad, and aim to support in teaching and learning, match comfortably with the goals and challenges faced by educators every day. For us, these conversations weren't new. They were, however, expansive and provided clear examples and sometimes deeper insight into how educators are constantly reevaluating what they do in order to nurture learning and what tools they need to advance this. We learned that we're doing pretty well, but we're still listening and looking forward to continuing the conversation. 

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We've made a free health education resource pack available to all readers. It contains an eportfolio comparison checklist to help you compare PebblePad features and functionality against other eportfolio platforms, our Implementation Toolkit, based on our extensive experience (and validated by advice published by Jisc) to guide you through the steps required for implementation success, and a digital pack containing a range of 'hot off the press' health education case studies.

An image showing an overview of what's included in PebblePad's Health Education and eportfolio resource pack


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Jodie Young is Content Manager here at PebblePad. An experienced educator, talented writer, and a genius at simplifying the complicated, Jodie spends her days planning, crafting and publishing content for the PebblePad community and wider higher education audiences. Outside of work, Jodie is a published poet and can occasionally be spotted performing at open mic events around her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. To the disappointment of some of her colleagues, she avoids employing rhyme in her copy but her expert stamp is still recognisable on many of our hugely popular publications.

Alison is PebblePad's Australian Director of Service and Partnerships and leads a small team of implementation consultants supporting our customers across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. Alison has notched up more than 30 years' experience working within the Higher Education sector and gets great satisfaction from helping our customers get the very most out of PebblePad. She is also passionate about developing and supporting the amazing PebblePad Community.  Alison lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland and makes the most of the climate and the location by filling her spare time with cycling, running, climbing, kayaking, and swimming.