Friday, 16 September 2016

Seven new features in PebblePad v5 you may have missed

We upgraded to PebblePad to v5 in August - and all has gone well. The main difference is a change from Flash to HTML5, which has led to a much more responsive system that is more adaptable to web-browsers, and now fully-functional on mobile devices. With this has come a redesign that is both better-looking and much less confusing.

PebblePad have focused on making existing features better, and v5 does not yet have a lot of new additions. However there are some useful new features in there which make its use more flexible. Here are some you may have missed.

1. Placeholder Pages in Workbooks
Workbooks are a great way to give learners structured reflection, but there was never the ability for them to add their own assets into the page structure (this had to be done by attaching assets to evidence boxes). Now tutors can set placeholder pages - effectively a blank page in the Workbook where the learner can insert their own page, collection, blog or activity log. This allows more flexibility for the learner to pick their own material to submit as part of a structured Workbook.



2. Media Picker
Similar to the Placeholder Page, there was previously no way for a learner to embed their own media into Templates or Workbooks, and this had to be attached as assets on an evidence box for the tutor to download. Now a tutor can add a Media Picker element to a Template, allowing a learner to add their own images, audio or video directly on to the page.



3. Rubrics
Rubrics are a major new feature added in the September update. These can be added to Templates and Workbooks, and allow for learners to rate their own abilities against a rubric, with optional weighting giving a tallied score. When it comes to marking, the option to turn this into an assessor field in a Template/Workbook page isn't there yet, but the rubrics can be incorporated into Feedback Templates for tutor use in ATLAS.



4. Contents menu
One less popular element of v5 was the new horizontal menu structure on Workbooks and Portfolios, which makes great sense on mobile devices but caused a lot of scrolling if tutors had set up their asset with many menu items. The good news is the September update saw a pop-out contents icon on the far left of the menu, allowing users to view a vertical index if more convenient.



5. Page-level comments and feedback
There have been very few changes to ATLAS so far, but one useful recent feature is the ability to add page-level comments, feedback and grades in Workbooks.



6. Create subsections in Workbooks more easily
It was always possible to create subsections in Workbooks, but this was a bit fiddly in v3 - you had to create a second Workbook separately, then add this as an existing template page. Now you can create stacked Workbooks easily in the Workbook editor, by clicking on the '+' on a menu tab, and selecting 'Convert to Workbook'. This means you can create your 'Workbooks in Workbooks' in one place without going in and out of the Resource Store. (This can also be done to create subsections in in Portfolios)



7. YouTube embed in Portfolios
Finally YouTube videos can now be added to Portfolios, allowing learners to add videos hosted outside PebblePad. This isn't yet featured in Workbooks, but will hopefully be added in a future update.


If you have any questions about any of these features, or anything else about PebblePad, please get in touch at tel@sheffield.ac.uk. Also keep your eyes on the PebblePad Release Notes for news of future upgrades.

Pete



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