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The implementation journey - Wolverhampton

Page history last edited by Gordon 9 years, 1 month ago



Summary Case study Home Page An overview of use The implementation journey

Video case studies


Notes from filmed interviews  


Institutional Governance - development of strategy

The Institute for Learning Enhancement (ILE) which was formerly the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning set up in 1999 is the central unit with responsibility for developing and supporting Teaching and Learning Strategy. This central unit reports to Executive groups and gathers evidence of practice to support institutional decision making. The driver for the creation of this unit was that the Director, Assistant Director, Technology Supported Learning Co-ordinator and administrative staff were funded by core university funding. HEFCE Teaching & Learning money was used to support internal L&T projects as well as L&T and TSL co-ords in Schools. It also develops bids for external funding that have supported e-portfolio developments, for example the HEFCE funded CETL and the Higher Education Academy funded Pathfinder project and a number of JISC funded projects.


Key personnel in relation to e-portfolio development have been institutionally core funded by the university since 2004 including, Megan Lawton, as Student Support and Development Co-ordinator and Shane Sutherland as an e-portfolio Co-ordinator in 2005-7. Most recently, from 2008 the Blended Leaning Unit was established within the Institute for Learning Enhancement to support the Blended Learning Strategy (2008). Two Blended Learning Advisors posts were established in 2008 and one of their roles is to support and inform e-portfolio developments. By 2010 this had grown to 5 (3 full-time and 2 part time) Blended Learning Advisors.


An ePIG (e-portfolio Implementation Group) and ePUG (e-portfolio User Group) were set up by Shane Sutherland in 2005 within the university. The ePIG had representatives from the Learning Centre, IT Services, Careers, Graduate Office, Registry, CELT (now ILE) and the Student Union. So it would be people who would have been promoting the use of PebblePad or people who could identify potential barriers and assist in removing them. The ePUG was an open and voluntary group. It was a user-group rather than the more formal ePIG. The ePUG would share good practice, stories and tips. An ePUG continued until 2009. Since 2009 the ePUG was subsumed within a new Technology Awareness Group which combined shared practice and awareness of functional changes in the use of both the VLE and PebblePad.



The early days

The key initial driver at the University of Wolverhampton has been the need to support year one students in developing effective study skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP). The widening participation agenda and support for level four students and progression has continued to be central to the University of Wolverhampton strategy. In 2002 a core funded project within The Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT) was created to support PDP and study skills across the institution. One of Megan's roles was to look at how the PDP provision could be developed to better align provision with the QAA guidelines. The institution became a member of the CRA in this year too adding an additional dimension to the commitment to the institutional backing of PDP.


A review of PDP processes that existed in the university informed a strategic working group to develop these practices into a web based and non linear set of tools to support PDP for students throughout their studies. Discussions between key personnel in CELT (now ILE) resulted in a model for PDP processes called PACE (Personal, Academic, Careers and Employability). To support this process there needed to be an electronic set of tools as identified in earlier discussions. These were developed by a company called Pebble Learning and were a very early version of PebblePad which were going to be known at the university as PACE to align with the university agreed PDP framework. However, once the pilot was complete the university decided to go with the tools planned generic name of PebblePad. Piloting of the PACE processes using the PebblePad tool in selected schools, the schools were selected from volunteers that were either the L&T co-ordinators in schools or recommended by them. In 2004 were successfully evaluated which resulted in the system being made available to all staff and students in 2005.


Scaling up and embedding/integrating

Until 2007, the use of PebblePad continued to grow organically from practice. The University involvement in the Higher Education Academy Pathfinder project in 2007-8 (again initiated by the Learning and Teaching central unit, now called the Institute for Learning Enhancement) was the first institution-wide initiative intended to close the gap between the top down and bottom up approach. The institution focus within the project became the integration of e-PDP in all schools and within the project each school integrated e-PDP into 2 level one modules. Staff appointments were made to support this project. Emma Purnell was a student studying for a teaching qualification in the school of Education was part of the 2005 PebblePad pilot during her studies. As a result of this she was able to get a research assistant role in the School of Education supporting eportfolio research and development after completing her PGCE. Her experience meant that she was able to secure a position in the Pathfinder project team as an e-portfolio mentor and advisor


Since 2007, there have been a number of other institutional developments that have given what started as a pilot project a strategic presence and direction. These include: the 2008 Blended Learning  Strategy  that resulted in the creation of Blended Learning Advisors posts (2 initially but now 5) - one of their roles in the support of e-PDP; the 2009 institution wide eportfolio evaluation and more recently in 2009/10, the Learning Works project, a refocus of the whole undergraduate curriculum to move from a 15 to a 20 credit framework - this now includes whole year modules at all levels in which e-PDP is integrated that run alongside single semester modules. Further details of these can be seen in the institutional milestones section. In 2010 there was an update to the original Blended Learning Strategy to take the strategy through to 2012.


Project involvement

In addition to core funding there have been a number of influential projects led by or involving institutional staff that have brought in external funding to support development and research in a range of areas looking at innovative e-portfolio uses. The projects include:


2005 JISC funded Epistle project - e-portfolio for transition to support progression and retention

2005-9 HEFCE funded CETL - CIEL Critical Interventions to Enhance Learning

2006 JISC funded Melas project – Mobiles Enhancing Learning and Support

2007 HEA funded Pathfinder project– e-portfolio based Personal Development Planning at level 1

2007-10 INCEPR Cohort III and IV

2008 JISC funded Portishead project – e-portfolio and entry into HE

2009-11 JISC funded ePPSME project– e-portfolio Pedagogy for Small to Medium Enterprises

2010-11 JISC funded epCoP project– e-portfolio Community of Practice


Key institutional stategies the e-portfolios were aligned to



Institutional journey milestones



What happened? What decisions were made? What was the rationale/evidence base? Who made the decision? Please include key documentation

Up until 2002

Paper based PDP (Personal Development Planning)

Prior to 2002 there was no institutional directive for Personal Development Planning (PDP). PDP practices existed at local levels in a number of different paper based formats.

2002 PDP appears in Learning and teaching Strategy

As a result of the QAA’s PDP guidelines in 2000 PDP is placed in the institution wide Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy developed by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in 2002 giving strategic importance to developing and supporting PDP as a process across the institution.

2002 Student Support and Development Co-ordinator appointed

In 2002 Megan Lawton was appointed through core funding in the Centre of Excellence in Learning and teaching (CELT) as Student Support and Development Co-ordinator. One of her primary roles was to look at the PDP provision across the institution could be developed to better align provision with the QAA guidelines. The institution becomes a member of the CRA in this year too adding an additional dimension to the commitment to the institutional backing of PDP.


Review of PDP practices across the undergraduate curriculum

Each of the 10 academic schools at the time were requested through ULTC (University Learning and Teaching Committee which is now UQEC, University Quality Enhancement Committee) to review their existing PDP provision and to identify key PDP processes that could feed into the development of a university wide process for PDP. Key outcomes from the review identified that there were many paper based activities that could be described as PDP but all of which were happening at a local level. The consensus of opinion was that PDP needed to be a formative student centred process with tutor guidance and support where appropriate. It shouldn’t be assessed unless as part of a wider assessment within a subject based contexts and that it should be integrated throughout the whole of the student experience at university. The report and recommendations were submitted to ULTC in April 2003

Recommendations from the review that were accepted by ULTC in 2003 were:
1] To promote the university PDP process and product as a PACE file which would cover the students’ Personal Academic, Careers and Employability planning and development.
2] To offer an electronic PACE file based on word templates that would be accessible through a student portal

The planning, development and implementation of PDP as a PACE file as described above resulted in a PACE operations group being set up.

Sep 2003

PACE (Personal Academic Careers and Employability) file operations group set up

The remit of the PACE operations group was to design and pilot an electronic careers file for use with all students in the university that would cover Personal, Academic, Careers and Employability planning and skills development. The group was led by Megan Lawton Student Support and Development Coordinator CELT (Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching) It consisted of student support coordinators from each of the 10 schools CELT funded 0.4 posts held by a member of staff in each of the schools to support and develop student support issues within the schools. (Part of this role included looking at PDP provision) The group also had members from IT services, Registry, Learning Information Centres, Student Union and Careers and Enterprise Services. The group reported to ULTC (University Learning and Teaching Committee)
It was planned that the PACE file would be ready for launch with the 2004/5 intake of students. This relied on a pilot version being able to be run in Jan 2004.


Model for the PACE file developed.

Early discussions some form of electronic student portal that would, as a minimum function, allow students to access Microsoft Word™-based PDP templates from their own and other academic disciplines.

Shane Sutherland was working 0.5 for CELT (core CELT funded) with a primary remit for the PGCert which was run by CELT. Megan Lawton discussed with Shane the desire for a PDP tool non linear and web based but not just web forms. From these early discussions Shane came back with the early concept of PebblePad, which was developed using some existing tools Pebble Learning had already created such as webquest wizard and profileability to develop a set of tools to support the PACE framework.

Shane Sutherland and Colin Dalziel (formerly of the university IT Services department) had prior to 2004 formed a separate company, today known as Pebble Learning. A combination of the needs identified to support the PACE framework at the University and drawing on the work already done by Pebble Learning PebblePad was developed in conjunction with the university.
Jan 2004

PACE pilot.
(PACE was the first version of PebblePad at UoW)

The pilot use of PACE was carried out in 4 schools to support PDP activities.
SCIT – School of Information Technology
SAS – School of Applied Sciences
SEd – School of Education
SoH – School of Health


A refection on the developments within the School of Education and key issues can be found here


2004 Residential eportfolio retreats Shane Sutherland held a number of 2 day residential retreats (funded by CELT) to take module and programme teams away to develop e-portfolio plans. Midwifery and Education were two of these early retreat teams.
2004/5 Pilots evaluated and PACE becomes PebblePad

The pilots were evaluated by an external evaluator in the spring of 2005 by John Peters from the University of Worcester. The success of the pilots resulted in the agreement by ULTC for the system to be made available for the entire university from Sep 2005.

2005-7 ePortfolio co-ordinator role in existence Shane Sutherland, who already worked 0.5 for CELT became the e-Portfolio coordinator in 2005 and continued to be core funded through CELT but in this different role. He had been informally supporting the pilots prior to this date but had a remit to support and promote the use of e-portfolio across the wider institution from this point. In 2007 when Shane moved full time to Pebble Learning the e-portfolio coordinator role was subsumed within Megan Lawton’s existing role.
2005/6 PebblePad is available to all staff and students and Champions in place.

At the start of the academic year 2005/6 PebblePad was made available across the whole of the University. A desktop icon was placed on all university machines. The e-portfolio coordinator held a number of staff development workshops to promote use. Existing pilot e-portfolio champions showcased their work across the wider university and mentored staff in developing new practice. The early use of PebblePad was primarily to support PDP activities. Diversity of use happened over time and there is now a much wider application of use across learning, teaching and assessment in a number of contexts. However, still a significant proportion of PebblePad use in the institution is to support electronic PDP (ePDP) activities.

2004-9 Eportfolio communities developed internally and externally.

The university held the Telling e-Portfolio Stories events for 4 years. These conferences brought together practitioners from across the UK to share e-portfolio practice across systems. The first Telling Stories event was ‘Designing and Defining an ePortfolio’ The events continued until 2009 (after which Pebble Learning held their own conference). Details of the final UoW Telling Stories conference in 2009 can be seen here:

Telling Stories 2009


An ePIG (e-portfolio Implementation Group) and ePUG (e-portfolio user group) were set up by Shane Sutherland from the start within the university. Details of these groups can be found in the governance section at the top

2005-9 CETL - Critical Interventions for Enhancement of Learning (CIEL)

A successful bid by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for a CETL. HEFCE funding of 5 million pound over 5 years  and involved 4 schools.

The CETL was based on the first-year student experience and is multi-disciplinary. It identifies excellent practice in four areas: Art & Design; Applied Sciences; Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences and Education. These practices comprise critical interventions for the enhancement of retention, achievement and progression. Many of the interventions as they developed were e-portfolio based. The CETL did not fund technical developments to PebblePad but provided support and resourcing for staff in the CETL schools to explore innovative interventions in the first-year using the tool.

HEA funded Pathfinder project

A successful bid for by CELT for HEA funding.

Although there was e-PDP use across all 10 schools by 2006 benchmarking revealed that the opportunities within the level 1 curriculum that could support learners to evidence and reflect on their learning journey was not fully embraced across the institution. It was felt that this opportunity to develop the level 1 curriculum by integrating ePDP would not only benefit students but would also provide staff with an opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge in areas that perhaps they were not already familiar with and thus the project could potentially affect improvement in the quality of student learning and develop an additional model for the professional development of staff.

There were a number of residential e-portfolio retreats as part of this project (similar to those mentioned earlier)


30 members of staff and 1500 students were involved. Exploring the path to e-PDP

Pathfinder stories were disseminated at the 'Telling e-Portfolio Stories: The Road to Stickiness' Conference on June 5th 2008.
2008/9 Blended Learning Unit established

The Blended Learning Unit a core part of the University’s Institute for Learning Enhancement that replaced the Centre for Learning and Teaching in 2008.


www.wlv.ac.uk/blu was established to support the implementation of blended learning across the university and support staff in the achievement of the Blended Learning Strategy targets. This unit started with 2 advisors in 2008 and by 2010 there were 5 (3 f/t and 2 p/t). Each supports designated schools and support for ePDP implementation is one of their roles. The main drivers for the Blended Learning Strategy and support unit is i) to support, extend enhance the learning opportunities for our students; ii) the specific entitlements derived from what research tells us about the types of elearning activities likely to promote learning; iii) to embed and cohere the blended learning which was happening to make it more consistent across courses

The Blended Learning Unit have experience and expertise in the design of blended learning curricula, as well as the creation and integration of e-learning tasks which serve to enhance and extend the face-to-face learning.

Blended Learning Strategy


2010 update to Blended Learning Strategy

Since 1999, when we first had a VLE (WOLF Wolverhampton Online Learning Framework) the university has had a Technology Supported Learning Strategy which focused on the effective use of this VLE and had targets around its use. However in 2008/9 Blended Learning Strategy was created as a result of an external eLearning review carried out by Gilly Salmon and internal evaluation about lack of embedding. A special sub group of the UQEC consisting of members of ILE, Registry, IT Services, and Learning Information Systems were all involved in the writing of the strategy which was overseen and ratified by UQEC. Within this Blended Learning Strategy and key to the wider implementation of eportfolio are the 6 student entitlements. Key to driving wider adoption of e-portfolio across the institution is entitlement 4. e-portfolio is the primary tool for ePDP. PebblePad can also be used to support the other entitlements should a tutor wish:

  1. have access to a digital copy of all lecturer-produced course documents. e.g. module guides, assessment briefs, presentations, handouts, reading lists; 2. formative assessment/s opportunities on line with meaningful electronic assessment feedback
  2. have opportunities to collaborate on line with others in their learning cohort 
  3. have the opportunity to participate in electronic Personal Development Planning (ePDP)
  4. submit all (appropriate) assessments online 
  5. opportunities to engage in interactive learning during all face to face sessions


An evaluation of the impact of pedagogic processes for personal development planning (PDP) and e-portfolio development


Eportfolio evaluation

As part of the final CETL reporting UQEC requested a study to evaluate the impact of pedagogic PDP processes across the institution. As PDP processes are facilitated and supported through the eportfolio the evaluation had dual purpose and became known as the eportfolio evaluation as it is impossible to separate PDP and e-portfolio in most cases.




Developing an e-portfolio Based Pedagogy for Small to Medium Enterprises

This JISC funded project looked to provide the HE sector with reusable models and resources for an e-portfolio based pedagogy for SMEs. Such a pedagogy takes account of the particular conditions of SME employers and learners, namely: shortage of time, prior informal learning, need to match individual learning with needs of the enterprise, need for flexible delivery, quality assured, opportunities to record and build achievement, need for confidentiality and for ease of access to e-learning and feedback.


Learning Works. Refocus of the undergraduate curriculum

The Learning Works refocusing project provided an opportunity to look at course wide ePDP and e-portfolio based learning opportunities that can sometimes be difficult to do when courses are up and running. We developed some guidance on what course level ePDP might look like here and worked with staff to design in the use of eportfolio at course level.



Building wider communities

As a follow on project from ePPSME project, Wolverhampton led a project encouraging and supporting the development of a new community of practice around eportfolio pedagogy and work-based learning.


IMS Global Learning Impact award

In 2010 the university and Pebble Learning wrote a joint submission for the IMS Global Learning Impact award identifying how PebblePad has had an impact on a number of areas of learning. The submission won one of the top two platinum awards. This is a key milestone in the Wolverhampton journey as it allowed us to draw together all of the hard work and innovation that has happened over the last five years and articulate it into an evidence based narrative of e-portfolio based learning across the institution.


Link to written submission

Link to video





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