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PebblePad 3

March 10, 2011

Last week I went to a PebblePad user group where Shane Sutherland demoed PebblePad 3 and asked for feedback and suggestions for inclusion. PebblePad is our chosen PDP / e-portfolio software system and all students and staff have an account.

PP3 will be released around Spring/Summer 2012 for us (with any luck) – so a little way off yet.

However, PebblePad themselves now like to call it ‘A personal learning system’ – because it’s much more than a portfolio tool. PebblePad 3 builds on this mantra with the slogan ‘The personal learning system’ instead of ‘not just an eportfolio’. Also they are probably going to lose the term webfolio and simply use ‘Portfolio’.

PP3 the interface has been brought upto date with a much slicker more professional look, but still has lots of customisability such as changing the background image etc.

It still runs in Flash but Shane said there is also going to be a HTML simplified version with almost as much functionality. It will require Flash player 10.2 which will give many advantages on video handling etc etc. I have no problem with Flash apart from you can’t right-click on links to documents and choose ‘save as’.

PP say PP3 is going to be extremely accessible and accessibility is their priority and PP3 will work with most screen readers.

The asset store which I think is quite limited on information at the moment has a major revamp allowing ordering by date created or date modified, assets can be categorised (by me, for me…), an archive folder for archiving assets, and collections of assets (collected by tag). It also will allow accounts to be linked together so assets can be listed from more than one PebblePad account at a time eg. If you had a University account and a Reflect account.

Shane asked if folders would be useful, most agreed (after a while) that tags  do the same job but better and the collection tool will give folder type functionality. It will also be easier and quicker to tag asset in the new asset store.

The forms and profiles builders will be replaced by a single Flash Template Builder (not HTML anymore) which allows forms to be created quicker and easier by dragging in form fields from a toolbar.  Formating of text can be done using a pop-up inbuilt simple Flash WYSIWYG formatter.

The Gateway has been revamped to add much more flexibility of grading with a grade management system to store second marker grade, and different types of grades will be supported etc. the Gateway looks much more user-friendly broken down into about, resources, published, blog, etc. Rather than lots of Gateways there will be just a top-level of gateway i.e. for each faculty which will then be broken into sections.

The new Dashboard which, will be on the homepage, looks really good. It brings all the parts together with a calendar, links to twitter and other blog feeds, course reading lists and other resources, latest assets created/modified etc etc., links to the gateways.

Shane said they would prefer everyone to be hosted by PebblePad (i.e. software as a service in The Cloud) this will allow a better PebblePad experience, supposedly, as they will have a media server for video streaming etc. He also mentioned ‘PebbleWorld‘ which will allow sharing of assets easily between institutions and eventually to employers.

All in all, to me it all looks very good for the long-term with some very good ideas building an already good idea. Once you understand what you can do with PebblePad and have the time to benefit from it, it has some excellent tools for reflection, learning, PDP, development etc etc and it can be seen that these tools have really have been thought about. PP3 I hope will make it easier to understand what  you can do with it.

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