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Case study University of Edinburgh Home Page

Page history last edited by Gordon 9 years, 10 months ago

 The University of Edinburgh   www.ed.ac.uk  


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


What is distinctive about this implementation case study

  • Early project involvement in OSPI and then trial using WebCT portfolio
  • Employability steering committee began work in 2007 that led to Graduate Attributes that were to be embedded across the curriculum - a driver for e-portfolio use
  • Pilot study and evaluation 2008-9 leading to case studies to support implementation
  • Vice-Principal decision to procure an e-portfolio began a lengthy procurement process 2008-2009
  • PebblePad made available to staff and students through the portal from 2009???
  • Steady uptake supported by 1 full time member of staff in central information services


e-Portfolio tool: PebblePad


PURPOSE:  Employability/ Graduate attributes, Personal Development Planning, Transition to/ from the institution, Work based learning, Assessment,


PROCESSES: Information capture, Information retrieval, Planning, Feedback, Reflection, Collaboration, Presentation


DRIVERS: A desire on the part of support services, to help students recognise, develop and make the most of non-curricular activities and skills, strongly supported by the Students' Association.  


Key words: University of Edinburgh, HE, UK, Higher Education, PebblePad, WebCT, graduate attributes, PDP, employability, assessment


Brief overview of the organisation and its current e-portfolio use 


The University of Edinburgh was founded in 1583 as the town college (as opposed to an ecclesiastical foundation), and was seen as a core part of a move to civilise the burgh and challenge the existing leadership of society. From early days teaching Law and Divinity the University rapdily gained a medical school and has grown to encompass subjects across arts, humanities, science, engineering and education. Discussions are currently being held about a merger with the Edinburgh College of Art.


There are two main city campuses, with a third rapidly developing on the southern outskirts centred round the new hospital. The admin offices and law are based in the Old College Building (designed by Robert Adam) and located close to the city centre. Almost adjacent is the elegant George Square, home to the main library and many schools from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. Most of the schools in the College of Science & Engineering are based less than 2 miles away at Kings Buildings, where the first building opened in 1929. The College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine is split between the growing hospital/biomedical research centre at Little France, and a new specialist Veterinary site at Easter Bush a few miles south of the city.


Research is at the heart of the University activity, and many schools are ranked highest in the UK and thus also high in world lists. Teaching is mainly traditional on campus, with a variety of lectures + seminars/tutorials but increasingly there is emphasis on collaborative activities and the strategy is to create more innovative spaces, particularly for groups. There are a small number of successful e-distance courses, typically in the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine and aimed largely at a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) market.


28,000 Students of whom about 30% are postgraduates, 30% are international students and 23% are aged over 25 years

8,000 Staff including about 3,000 academic staff.

University Facts & Figures http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/governance-strategic-planning/facts-and-figures


The three colleges have a great deal of independence and autonomy, recognising their genuine diversity. Activities initiated from "the centre" can be hard to embed, and activities born in one college can be hard to transfer effectively to another. Despite this challenge, the University has recently agreed a set of graduate attributes and is now working to see these reflected and embedded at discipline level. After some false starts with other e-portfolio products, PebblePad is now provided for all students and staff, accessed via the institutional portal. Although it is currently only embedded into a small number of courses, it is increasingly seen as being core to a range of reflective and developmental activities.


From our initial explorations of PebblePad we produced a set of use-cases available at http://tiny.cc/cex2z and drawing on feedback from students. During 2010/2011 we have a range of evaluation activities planned, to inform how we go forward with our use of e-portfolios.


Key factors for successful implementation 

Know how the service will scale to be available insititution wide.

Minimise routine administration and account management.

Tailor implementations to fit appropriately to local learning contexts.


Lessons learnt 

The label "e--Portfolio" can lead some potential users to dismiss the approach as not relevant to them. 


The future 

Two institution wide groups are leading strategic actions in areas which are both likely to make widespread use of e-portfolios, one considering employability and one considering induction processes.  Both groups seek to foster deeply embedded sustainable changes, and there is recognition that lasting impact is not achieved quickly.


Meanwhile work will continue with individual schools and course teams to identify appropriate ways that an eportfolio can enhance the experience of particular groups of students.




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