• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Want to get organized in 2022? Let Dokkio put your cloud files (Drive, Dropbox, and Slack and Gmail attachments) and documents (Google Docs, Sheets, and Notion) in order. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free. Available on the web, Mac, and Windows.


University of Edinburgh, UK

Page history last edited by Jacquie Kelly 9 years, 10 months ago

Summary: e-portfolio implementation and use at the University of Edinburgh

To visit the case study pages select:

Case study Home Page An overview of use The implementation journey


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


e-portfolios used since 2009.  

Numbers of students and staff using e-portfolios:

Staff: 110 (3%)

Students: 3470 (97%)


What is distinctive about this implementation case study

  • Early project involvement in OSPI and then a 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 staff member in central services unit



  • 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 


Tool used

  • PebblePad (externally hosted)


Implementation features for senior managers

  • Vice-Principal decision to procure an e-portfolio began a lengthy procurement process 2008-2009


Implementation features for e-portfolio managers

  • Early project involvement in the Open Source Portfolio Initiative and then a trial using WebCT portfolio
  • Steady uptake supported by 1 full time staff member in central services unit 


Implementation features for practitioners

  • Career development use of e-portfolios
  • Tailored implementations for particular schools & user groups   


Implementation features for technologists

  • All user accounts created automatically from institutional identity management system
  • Access via institutional portal
  • Mobile access included 


The nature of e-portfolio use

The exemplars selected represent a range of activities up to 2011.


Inter/ whole course –> cross dept/ school/ faculty use

Cross institution use

Extra- curricular use

PDP and Employability

Career Development Planning course year 2 Business Studies (UG) Exemplar 2


Support for Professional Practice courses
MSc Advancing Nursing Practice Assessment by e-portfolio instead of a dissertation Nursing Studies Exemplar 1

PDP and Employability

The 'My Edge' approach to Graduate Attributes Exemplar 3



Work Based Learning
Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships
Exemplar 4






Transition into the institution

The SQA Scottish Baccalaureate use PebbePad Exemplar 5



The nature of the large-scale implementation journey

The three colleges within the University of Edinburgh 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 and implementation had to reflect this.


Some exploration of e-portfolios had occured before 2007 through the OSPI project. However large-scale implementation was initiated by the Vice Principals decision to procure an e-portfolio. This was influenced by the work of the Employability Initiative at the University of Edinburgh focuses on: ‘enabl[ing] [students] to reach their full potential’, ‘equip[ping] our students with the skills, experience, and attitudes to be able to thrive, contribute and achieve their potential within the global community’, and ‘ensuring our graduates are self-confident and possess economically valuable capabilities, expertise and skills’, all explicitly referenced in Strategic Plan 2008 -12. From this Graduate Attributes were developed and this was a key driver for the need for e-portfolio use. From 2010 PebblePad was 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.



Stage 0: Prior developments Stage 1: Planning Stage 2: Early adoption Stage 3: Embedding Stage 4: Sustaining

2004: Involvement in the Open Source Portfolios Initiative OSPI project funded internally. Portfolios then migrated to WebCT portfolio.

2007: Employability Stategy Group explore employability and graduate attributes. This was a key driver for e-portfolio use and the Vice Principal decided to start the procurement process.


2008 -9: Pilot e-portfolio use. Evaluation carried out.

Pilots used as the basis for Collecting, Reflecting and Presenting Case Studies (2009)

Nov 2010 Report to Learning and Teaching Committee.

Ongoing work with college learning & teaching committees to ensure stategic uses are core 

Autumn 2009:

PebblePad is integrated into the portal by default making it available to all staff and students.

Central technical support for users is in place.

Jan 2011 Pulication of newsletter
2011 INTEGRATE project : INTerlinking and Embedding GRaduate ATtributes at Edinburgh.

Evaluations are being carried out during 2011 to inform future planning.  Slower but more strategic implementations led from learning & teaching committees ensure wide discussion and planning, and bring better long term sustainability.




Alignment with the institutional context

DRIVERS: The Edinburgh Edge initiative that developed from the work of the cross university employability steering committee resulting in an agreement on Graduate Attributes has been a driver. The Vice Principal decided to support this by providing an e-portfolio tool.

TECHNOLOGIES: An extensive procurement process of one year led to the decision to use PebblePad.


Developing expertise/ engaging with stakeholders 

Professional development for staff

  • Through developing an expert central team able to respond quickly to requests for support  
  • Through support for developing practice through working collaboratively with course teams who wish to embed the portfolio into their curriculum, and by providing ideas and suggestions on the website
  • Through sharing practice: Initial pilots of PebblePad were used to produced a set of use-cases available at http://tiny.cc/cex2z - this includes a range of case studies of use at Edinburgh including student and staff 'honest' reactions


Student support

 Technical support is provided centrally and support for use within courses is provided by the module tutors themselves who design the learning acitvities through examples of use, instructions for completing activities etc. Generic support materials are provided on the website.  Collaboration with the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA).  


Other stakeholders

The Vice Principal for Knowledge Management (responsible for providing the e-portfolio service) was formerly Director of the University Media & Learning Technology Service, and has a strong personal interest in technology enhanced learning. The Vice Principal for Academic Enhancement (who chairs Learning & Teaching Committee), the Director of the newly created Institute for Academic Development and the Director of the Careers Service have all been keyplayers in ensuring a strategic vision for PebblePad.  Support from EUSA has also been key.


Creative Commons Licence 

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.