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PebblePad January update

January 18, 2013

PebblePad will be applying an update later tonight, which fixes some bugs, restores a few features which were in Classic but hadn’t made it into the first release of PebblePad 3, and brings some really nice new features.

Here are the release notes (PDF)

The enhancements include

  • ability for users to upload their own banners for webfolios and other assets
  • ability for individuals and institutions to choose a customised theme for their main Pebble+ screen
  • much easier to add new contacts and work with the contacts list when sharing assets
  • the Add Page and Layout toolbars (currently somewhat hidden away underneath the main Pebble+ menus) will now be much more obvious – this should be a big usability plus for those building or adding to existing webfolios

In ATLAS there are a range of changes which will make it easier for staff to manage workspaces, find the student submissions they need to view, and mark / provide feedback.

I really like the new ability to use a webfolio page as the “About” page on a workspace. Put baldly like that, that may seem like the sort of thing which excites us learning technologists more than others. But what it means is that you can now make the ATLAS workspace look much more attractive to users, and more importantly, use the workspace itself to provide  a whole range of useful resources for students.

The ability to export grades from ATLAS workspaces – something you could do in Classic – is also being reintroduced with this upgrade.

The big new feature, though, is the introduction of “Workbooks”. The release notes say “Profiles created in ‘Classic’ can now be edited as workbooks” and that’s important – if you had built Profiles in the old version it will now be possible to use and edit them in PebblePad 3. But more than this, Workbooks will, I think, make possible some really major changes to the way we provide students with webfolio templates to customise and complete. I won’t go into details now, if for no other reason than I haven’t had a chance to experiment with them yet. But it looks to me that Workbooks will turn out to be a much more flexible tool than anything we’ve had previously – in PebblePad or indeed any other system (Blackboard or Office 365 for example).

If you’re really keen to see and hear some of the backgrounds to these new features, there is a webinar recording you can watch at https://www.pebblepad.co.uk/pp3demo/

In other news, not directly related to this upgrade, we have been testing some building blocks which allow us to set up a considerable degree of integration between Blackboard and PebblePad. These should remove some of the barriers to PebblePad use, and offer new opportunities in getting the best out of both systems – e.g. in a Blackboard course it would be possible to direct students direct to a specific PebblePad form, and they could fill it out without any need to log on again. More on that when we have finished our testing, hopefully in just a few weeks. In the meantime, to get an idea of what these new tools can do, see https://www.pebblepad.co.uk/pebbleblocks.asp

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