What lies at the heart of sustainable digital transformation?
Jodie Young, Learning Consultant at PebblePad
Digital Transformation – What Does it Mean to You?
As we head into the second half of 2022, the phrase ‘digital transformation’ – much like ‘pivot’ -is one that we’ve all heard so much over the last two years that it’s easy to become inured to.
It’s become a kind of catch-all phrase that encompasses everything from moving exams online and introducing tech-supported invigilation, through to some truly innovative practice forged out of necessity and opportunity. And so it seems right that ALT-C has chosen Digital Transformation Beyond the Crisis as one of its key themes for this year’s conference.
It sounds a call-to-arms to remember and reclaim the ‘transformation’ aspect of the last two years, acknowledge the trailblazing work being done in Higher Education teaching, learning and assessment, and make solid plans to build on the foundations recently laid down.
At PebblePad, we get the opportunity to see some truly exciting learning and assessment design using our platform, and wanted to share some of our thoughts on what lies at the heart of genuinely transformative learning in the digital space.
The Robustness of Good Learning Design and Pedagogy
We refer to PebblePad as The Learning Journey Platform. Many people think of us as an eportfolio platform; others, as a platform to support experiential learning experiences, particularly those that occur beyond the classroom.
Ask someone else and they may describe PebblePad as a space for students to learn self-regulation, become reflective learners and articulate their development towards becoming Future Ready graduates and emerging professionals.
So what? And – who’s right?
Well, each of them would be (partly) correct. PebblePad can do all of those things (and more) and yet no matter how it’s used, or in what discipline areas, or which of the many university-wide initiatives it supports, the one key factor to remember is that any PebblePad implementation is only as good as the learning design and thinking that underpins its use.
And that’s where you come in.
Creativity and Flexibility in Learning Design
Good learning design is a bit of both art and science, based on sound pedagogy and incorporating a breadth of considerations: cohort attributes and needs, objectives and intended outcomes, mode/s of delivery, and so on. Great learning design is instantly recognisable as having a sense of perfect fit, where all of the pieces of the puzzle align to make a comprehensive – and comprehensible – whole. But getting there requires a creative approach and a flexible toolkit.
One of the things that surprised and delighted us during the initial pandemic scramble was how inventive the learning design community continued to be, even under immense pressure.
Whether it was working out how to connect with and engage students via academic personal tutoring at the University of Leeds or assessing international student cohorts in clinical skills while their assessor was unable to leave Australia, those involved in coming up with elegant and robust solutions – fast – were able to do so by understanding and utilising the full range of PebblePad functionality.
We’ve always known that PebblePad’s strength is its flexibility and ability to be almost infinitely adaptable to support a raft of learning, teaching and assessment ambitions.
Reflectiveness and constructivist approaches are built right into the system to support scaffolding and student-centred learning, and to encourage students to evidence and build on every learning experience they have. But it’s the space that allows for creativity, and for learning designers and educators to work in partnership with the platform that has led to some of the special – and award-winning – practice we regularly see.
For a few final words, we’d be remiss in talking about what lies at the heart of effective digital transformation if we didn’t mention the reason for it all – students and learning.
It’s not enough to take a learning technology and use it to primarily be an administrative tool (although no one would argue that freeing up time and headspace is not a worthwhile endeavour).
Placing students at the heart of the learning design, and embedding that via technology that gives students autonomy, allows creativity and encourages co-creation, is the basis for what one would call a truly transformative digital revolution.
If you’d like to learn more about PebblePad’s Learning Journey Platform – a technology created by educators for educators – then come and seek us out at the conference at demo pod 14.
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Learn more about the ALT Annual Conference – https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2022