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Adventures in Canada

Category: Company
Friday 10th May 2024
GailPebblePad
by: Gail Ring

For three weeks in April we have had the pleasure of hosting Shane Sutherland in a cross-continent visit of North America, beginning in British Columbia on to Columbus Ohio and concluding our travels in Ontario Canada.

In Vancouver BC the trip was kicked off with a round-table event at the Sheridan Wall Center. The aim of this event was to share great portfolio practices from around the globe – beginning with the innovative projects occurring in BC. The next few days were spent at the BCNET conference. We have been a partner with BCNET for a few years now and we always enjoy the opportunity to hear about the exciting work that is happening across British Columbia. Not surprisingly these stories are similar to what we hear elsewhere around the globe.

From there Shane headed east (and a tad south) to Columbus Ohio where serendipitously he and Gail were just in time to don their special glasses for a spectacular view of the eclipse in Dublin Ohio where we experienced over a minute of full totality. This was the last eclipse in North America for 40 years so it was a must-see event!!

That event, of course, did not eclipse the wonderful stories of practice in the recently launched General Education Bookends and Honor’s & Scholar’s Programs.  We learned about the Myths and Monsters course which includes a virtual escape room designed to engage students in the readings and the PebblePad monster book designed to help students make sense of and reflect on these readings. It’s an extremely creative way to engage students and mitigate the potential negative effects of AI in higher education. Wouldn’t you like to take that course? We would!!

From there our trio met up in Toronto Ontario. Our whirlwind visit began with a round-table event at York University where we met old friends and made quite a few new ones. Shane kicked off the event with a discussion on the challenges facing higher education today. As a global voice/leader on how to effectively support all learners’ in their learning journeys, Shane has insights that are germane to a wide audience. And, based on the questions and conversations we had, the topic seemed to really resonate with this group consisting of program leaders, educators, and developers.

We also had the opportunity to hear from Muhammad Javeed, program lead, and Jenny Peach-Squibb who discussed the innovative work occurring within the Lassonde School of Engineering where they have launched Canada’s first fully work integrated degree program. Among the many potential benefits of this program is its potential to “increase access to education for a wider spectrum of students such as first-generation students, students from equity-deserving groups and lifelong learners.

Jenny discussed her work as the Academic Skills Coach for this newly launched program helping students connect their academic experiences to their professional experiences using PebblePad to include external, job based supervisors in the conversation acting as the golden thread that connects these experiences and participants. Hearing Jenny describe “the warm fuzzies in her heart” she got when reading first-year students’ reflections on their experiences in this program reminds us all why we love our work!

From there we headed north a bit to Barrie Ontario to visit Georgian College. And once again Shane motivated the large and attentive crowd that gathered with his musings on the challenges at hand as well as the incredible possibilities that exist with technological tools that are both learner centric and learning centered. This was the segue into the stories of actual use of PebblePad workbooks and portfolios from the faculty and learning developers at Georgian College which couldn’t have been more powerful.

From the stories of students at the beginning stages of developing their professional identities through to portfolio storytelling from a more seasoned faculty member who shared the beautifully rich life-story of her professional and ever evolving identity via her portfolio and the numerous pictures and plot twists; we were all completely engrossed! The ways in which Georgian College is holistically engaging faculty at various stages of their careers is incredibly powerful and we cannot wait to come back next year (or sooner) to hear more!

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Picture of Gail Ring
Gail Ring

Gail is a great believer in the power of portfolios for learning and has been using them in her teaching and research since her graduate work at the University of Florida. Gail previously served as the Director of the ePortfolio Program at Clemson University before joining the PebblePad team in 2015

Today, she continues to enthusiastically promote the transformative potential of portfolios across North America, with a special fondness for PebblePad.

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