Reflections from Den Bosch: PebblePad at Surf Conference

Category: Company
Tuesday 19th December 2023
by: Sam Blyth

In November, the PebblePad team converged upon the vibrant town of Den Bosch for the annual Higher Education (HE) conference hosted by Surf—a cooperative of Dutch education and research institutions. Joining me at Surf was Sabrina Blackmon, one of our newest Customer Success Managers based in The Netherlands. 

The rising role of ePortfolios in Dutch institutions

In her two-months at PebblePad, Sabrina has quickly emerged as an indispensable member of our team. And importantly, having people like Sabrina, with feet on the ground and a profound understanding of the local landscape, enables us to bridge the gap between our innovative solutions and the specific needs of the Dutch educational community. 

There’s a real buzz around ePortfolios in the Netherlands right now, as institutions recognise that that they’re not just repositories for academic achievements but powerful tools that facilitate holistic and experiential learning. The Surf conference provided an ideal stage for us to delve into these transformative discussions, highlighting the evolving role of ePortfolios in shaping modern education. 

PebblePad’s impact at the intersection of technology and pedagogy

One standout moment was a presentation by Mijke Slot from Erasmus. Mijke delved into the art of stimulating active student learning using PebblePad, underscoring the significance of feedback and the growing interest in programmatic assessment. What makes PebblePad truly distinctive is our ability to blend structure and creativity, transforming ePortfolios into comprehensive learning experiences?. For us, it’s not just about students completing their learning journey; it’s about how they complete it (and what they gain from the process) that truly matters.

PebblePad, received recognition from a range of attendees for our unique perspective, highlighting the harmonious alignment of our values with the Dutch educational ethos. Discussions centred not just on technological compatibility but on shared commitments to meaningful feedback, reflective learning and programmatic assessment.

Sam Blyth and Sabrina Balackmon at SURF event

Navigating the AI landscape in higher education

As you might expect, the conference was a timely reminder of the evolving role of artificial intelligence (AI) in education. But, while AI rightfully claims its place as a hot topic, the discussions struck a delicate balance. Rather than being overwhelmed by technological advancements, the focus remained on the essential elements of education—preserving the human touch, fostering reflective practices, and embracing the transformative potential of innovation.

At PebblePad, we view ePortfolios as more than a record of achievements; they are dynamic tools to support experiential learning and authentic assessment. The conference reinforced the importance of this philosophy, especially in a country where students often transition between institutions during their learning journey. Our commitment to a truly longitudinal ePortfolio ensures that the learning journey is not confined to specific educational stages but accompanies students throughout their academic endeavors.

So, as we reflect on our Dutch adventure at the Surf conference, we are energized by the enthusiasm for PebblePad’s innovative approach. Interested in learning more? Contact Colin Pearson on

Picture of Sam Blyth
Sam Blyth

Sam boasts more than 15 years in the educational technology sector, driven by a fervour for empowering educators to leverage technology in support of effective pedagogies and student success.

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