There are a variety of factors that can impact the perceived affordances and ease of use of a technology and when negative perceptions develop amongst early adopters, they can spread widely (Rogers, 2003). A recent project that encountared this is described, alongside the strategies to address this.
In 2011, after a significant consultation process, Pebblepad (an e-portfolio system) was introduced to the institution as a departmentally supported tool. Its primary purpose was to support the medical school with their need to capture monthly details of PhD student meetings with their supervisors. In order to ensure that Pebblepad was successfully implemented a team of learning technologists within the school were dedicated to exploring the possibilities and supporting both students and staff. The medical school collaborated continually with staff and students in order to optimise the use of Pebblepad and to address any functional or support requirements (e.g. training). The success of the initial implementation meant that the use of Pebblepad started to expand within the department and the medical school began to engage other faculties within the institution, exciting them about the opportunities that Pebblepad could offer. Subsequently, this led to a number of early adopters pushing pilots forward within their departments.
However, the deployment of Pebblepad by these early adopters was less successful. When the medical school engaged others, their focus was on the advantages of using Pebblepad, little emphasis was placed on logistical issues (e.g. creating templates, training staff, supporting students). Furthermore, during this period, Pebblepad went through a major update which resulted in a lot of confusion for end users. The medical school was unable to cope with demands across the institution for both technical and pedagogical support. This lead to negative impressions towards the technology from both staff and students, which spread across the institution.
Shortly after the implementation of these unsuccessful pilots, the central learning technologies team inherited Pebblepad. In order to support its successful implementation, a variety of strategies were identified by drawing on practice and experience from literature (e.g. Glover et al, 2012). This involved:
- Establishing different campaigns to raise awareness (e.g. drop in sessions, showcases, training).
- Designing training to scaffold understanding of this complex tool.
- Integrating Pebblepad within the institution’s core systems.
This presentation will highlight that, as well as showcasing the benefits of using technology to enhance pedagogic practice, of equal importance is sharing the logistical factors involved (e.g. time, technical, processes). It will outline different corrective strategies used to re-engage academics and students with a system that they have lost confidence in and will be of value to those involved in implementing learning technology on a wide scale.
Glover, I., Campbell, A., Latif, F., Norris, L., Toner, J., & Tse, C. (2012). A tale of one city: intra-institutional variations in migrating
VLE platform. Research in Learning Technology, 20.
Rogers, E. M. 2003. Diffusion of Innovations (5th Edition). New York: Free Press.
|Affiliation||University of Sheffield|