KPU learning platform provider PebblePad partners with BCNET

The eportfolio service used by KPU, Langara, and JIBC could expand to other B.C. institutions

(Mockup/ Firmbee, Logo/ Pebble Pad)

BCNET, a not-for-profit service provider for several B.C. universities, has chosen PebblePad as the “preferred” learning technology for higher education in British Columbia. PebblePad recently announced this partnership and said it will give post-secondary students in B.C. better access to their platform. 

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is one of the post-secondary institutions in B.C. to recently join the PebblePad platform when it became available to KPU students in fall 2020. 

PebblePad is described as similar to an eportfolio that will allow students to record their learning progress. It will be replacing KPU’s previous eportfolio service Mahara, which has been used for the past decade.  

Leeann Waddington is the director of learning technologies and educational development at KPU. She says Mahara did not see much growth with students outside of the business program due to the design features, and many found it complicated to use. 

Waddington says there is a growth in the usage of eportfolios, and it’s known to “enhance students’ knowledge, ability to learn, or preparedness for the workforce.”

This new eportfolio will help students better understand the courses they’ve taken and what they’ve learned. 

“What we want to create at KPU is a culture of developing that thinking as you go through the course,” says Waddington. 

Waddington says one of the previous things people did was focus on their portfolios before they graduated or used them in preparation for job searching, but now KPU wants to encourage students to work on their portfolio as they go through their program.

“What we want to do is help students to connect learning from different courses to other courses, so that across the time of a program, they become really aware of what they know,” she says.

The pandemic affected the rollout plan for PebblePad in KPU, but since it’s been made available, students find the platform easier to use, Waddington says. 

Right now, approximately 1,000 students and 100 faculty members are using it. 

Students will be able to access their PebblePad accounts from their Moodle account. 

If any student at KPU were to transfer to another institution in B.C., they would be able to move the work they’ve completed with them to their new school. 

Jodie Young, PebblePad assistant head of communications, says PebblePad can also be a space for teachers to provide support and feedback to students. Teachers can also create “interactive templates or workbooks.” 

“PebblePad is increasingly becoming what we see as a really integral part of university learning technology ecosystems because it supports the kind of learning that’s active and student-centred,” says Young.  

“It supports a kind of learning around things that are problem-based learning, skills development … all kinds of activities that show not just what you know, but how you use and apply that knowledge.” 

KPU’s plan to incorporate PebblePad into its learning programs is part of its academic plan. Waddington encourages students to explore the site’s features by logging on with their student number. There is also a video provided to guide students through creating their first portfolio on the site.