I’ve been outspoken on the topic of adding rewards & incentives or ‘carrots‘ to courses and classroom management, and so it is rather unusual for me to be thinking about things like implementing badges. However, I’m very interested in using gaming strategies in education and I’m also interested in providing students with opportunities to both learn at their own pace, and also to represent how they have met criteria or learning outcomes in ways that students want to, rather than ways dictated by teachers.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m teaching a Digital Literacy course and this is where I’ve decided to add a badge system. Here are some of my thoughts on what I want to accomplish:
1. I offer an assignment that can be used to get the first badge, or rather first level of a badge, (give them a measuring stick and something to bite on).
2. Criteria for the next level(s) of badges, but no specific assignments. They can choose what they use to demonstrate the criteria, this isn’t prescribed by an assignment or task.
3. A pool of assignments to choose from and more importantly to add to by the students, they help create the pool (like they do in DS106). For the Inquiry Hub, I would also allow them to use their work on their big Inquiry Questions to demonstrate skills. For instance, if during their inquiry they ‘Seek out and engage with mentors and experts’ – an outcome for the course, then they can link to the interview as a way to demonstrate that they have met this criteria.
4. When a student gives themselves a badge, it must link to the task or assignment or evidence. Students can do this without teacher approval, in fact, it is expected that they progress through the course by choosing their own evidence. It is important that the teacher is notified (electronically and automatically) when a student adds evidence to a badge, so that formative feedback can be provided along the way.
5. Final badges for each set of criteria can only be earned when they show me, or a learning mentor, that their evidence meets all of the criteria. The reason for this is that only some, and not necessarily all, of the criteria might have been met when students award themselves badge levels. Students might reach the final badge and still not have represented all of the key skills or outcomes, or their representation around a specific skill may not have been done to a high enough standard to earn a final badge.
6. All badges are on one page, and the filling up of the page acts as a progress bar for students to see how far along they are in the course.
7. Final marks are negotiated based on the quality of the evidence. However, if all the final badges have been completed, that is a guaranteed ‘B’, because anything less would suggest that a final badge should not have been given. From this point, ‘we’ discuss/negotiate, and agree upon a mark. And yes, not only is a 100% grade totally possible to achieve, but if it isn’t attained at first, we can simply discuss which pieces of evidence need to be improved upon.
There are my thoughts in a nutshell. That’s all well and good, except I had no idea what kind of interface to use… that would come after talking to one of my code savvy students, Elijah. He decided to help me out and make his current Inquiry Question one that helps me figure out the dashboard and online interface of the badge system.
Here is an excerpt from Elijah’s Inquiry Update:
I have already completed the bulk of my project.
Including; Setting up the database, implementing a login-system, creating admin-users, editing accounts, and creating/editing badges.
As you can see in the photos, it took a few tries to get the question down.
One of the people I spoke to after conceptualizing this badge system was Gord Holden. He is a guru in Immersive Technology and I wanted to make sure that what I was doing wasn’t just adding a reward layer onto a course. In a Skype conversation, Gord said to me, “The badges aren’t the goal…but the organizers, and way of recognizing effort and accomplishment.”
With Elijah’s help, I think we can create an interface that meaningfully implements some gaming strategies into the course, and allow students to demonstrate learning at their own pace, while using their own choices of how the learning is represented. We will probably be introducing this to the class in the next couple weeks and assignments we’ve already done will be linked to badges as soon as we get things up and running.
I’ll keep you posted on our progress, and since we are not even in Beta yet, feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated!