#edtech #digitalbadges #edbadges Motivation and Engagement. These two words come up again and again as I try to describe the change I saw in my students when I began using badges. Now, if you’ve seen my badges, you may be wondering how in the world a 1” plastic button could drive such a dramatic change. You can get a fifth grader to spend five weeks learning to code just to earn that? Fair question. My badges are attractive, but they aren’t the flashiest things in the world. And that’s by design, because really, it’s not about the badges.
Yes, I, the badge guy, am saying that the magic behind the whole system is not the badges themselves. The motivation, the engagement, comes mainly from the accomplishment the badges represent. I’ve had students come to me near tears because they lost a badge. It’s not because the badge was so beautiful or so expensive-- it’s because they had worked their tails off to get it.
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made, then, is devaluing the badges by giving them away too easily. If we’re giving students badges just for showing up, tying their shoes, or maintaining a pulse, one of two things will happen. In scenario one, the badges will simply cease to matter. Students will lose them, forget them, throw them in their bag, neglect to post them, or toss them in the trash. They become worthless. On the other hand, things could go the other way. It could become all about the badges, and only the badges. Students will race through challenge after challenge to accumulate more and more shiny baubles. Although they may enjoy the sight of their blog or backpack being festooned with countless badges, they revel in the sheer number of badges without valuing or even remembering the skills that earned them.
As a curator of badges, then, it’s your job to keep badges valuable by emphasizing quality over quantity. As you design the system, there should be no “throwaway” or “gimme” badges. Each and every one should require the development and demonstration of a skill or group of skills, culminating in a high-quality artifact.
I originally thought that I needed to give my students a taste of success right away, so I initially made my level one badges quite easy to earn. I soon realized, though, that this was calibrating students’ expectations incorrectly. It did not instill inherent value in every badge, and it led to frustration when students encountered more challenging badges later.
I ended up revamping my level one so that all of the skills in that level earned only one badge-- the technology basics badge. The students still have to demonstrate several different skills, and they still have to create an artifact, but they don’t get a separate badge for each small skill required (such as sending an email, navigating Google Drive, or online safety). That way, even though many of these skills can be mastered in a matter of hours, or maybe minutes, badges don’t become cheap.
Timing is one of the things to be considered when deciding what level each skill should be placed at, by the way. On the whole, my level one skills are ones that can be completed in a matter of hours. As they move up to level two, multiple days will likely be needed, and then about a week for level three skills. Level four, the ultimate accomplishments in my system, includes badges such as coding and filmmaking that will take multiple weeks to attain.
Of course, there’s the caveat that the badges can’t be too hard, either. (I’m sure you heard something about the zone of proximal development back in your education psychology class-- that perfect zone where a new skill is just challenging enough that a student believes they can do it, but still has to work hard to get there.) If weeks go by and nobody’s earning a badge, you can bet that motivation will burn out pretty quickly.
On the whole, I think that awarding badges too freely is the greater tendency, so I would urge you to keep your standards high. Though the badges themselves offer some motivation, the students will be truly engaged if they know that each badge is worthy of respect.
#edtech #edbadges #digital badges If a student is asked to explain why they got an A in a class,and you might get some of the following answers: Because I did all my work. Because I’m good at math. Because I work hard. Because the teacher likes me. Because I always come to class and pay attention. Because it’s easy. Because I’m smart. Or, the ever-popular, I don’t know.
On the contrary, ask a student why they got a poor grade, and you’ll often hear the opposite: Because I didn’t turn my work in. Because I suck at math. Because my teacher hates me. Because I missed too much class. Because it’s hard and I don’t get it. Because I’m stupid. Oh, I don’t know works for this side, too.
And, when the student, teacher, and possibly a parent are the only ones seeing a student’s work, and when a student and their parents see only that one student’s work, the process can seem rather mysterious. It’s not surprising that accusations of unfair grading or favoritism could arise.
In an open badge system, however, the definition of success is clear-cut and the evidence is plainly visible. The thought of parents comparing students’ work side by side might sound initially terrifying if you are accustomed to traditional grading (How come my son lost three points for neatness when this student didn’t lose any? His is just as neat!). But with digital portfolios or linked badges, a different type of comparison arises-- the type where understanding of the expectations grows and excellence is promoted.
The open aspect helps students (and parents) understand why they did or didn’t earn a badge and fosters a learning community where students pursue shared goals. Students seeking to earn a certain badge can find several examples of success, and students who have earned badges can be recognized for their achievement and become a resource to others. Though it takes a shift in mindset, opening up the badge system turns out to be a win-win situation.
A Word About Assessment
Of course, just initiating a badge system doesn’t magically erase any threat of questioning, misunderstanding, or second guessing. A good badge program needs one or more trusted assessors to keep the badges credible. In order to earn and keep trust, assessors must do the following:
#ISTE2016 #edbadges #badgechatk12 We hear a lot about protecting our online privacy, so this post may seem counter-intuitive. You can relax, though -- I’m not advocating that your students’ identity, grades, or deepest secrets be made public. What I am advocating is that their best work and greatest academic accomplishments be on display for the world to see.
When instituting a badge system, it might seem simpler to develop a process where student work is simply exchanged between students and teachers, and badges are awarded on a chart or class blog that only the teachers, and maybe a student’s direct classmates, can see. But a badge system that is set up this way is lacking some of the most functional and motivating parts of the system. So here are a few things you can do to make your badge system more open...
1. Publicly Visible Badges
One of the main elements of the system should be publicly visible beyond the classroom: the badges themselves, and the artifacts that earned those badges. As my book discusses, you have a choice between physical badges, such as customized buttons pinned on a backpack, or digital badges, possible hosted on a platform such as Open Badges. The first type meet the “open” criteria because they go wherever that student’s backpack goes. Other students and teachers, other parents, kids on the bus, and friends at after-school activities can all plainly see the badges the student has earned. Online badges can be shared via students’ social media accounts or on their personal blogs. This visibility gives students recognition for the skills they are developing. It allows them to build their academic identity and reputation-- a positive sort of “street-cred,” if you will.
2. Publicly Visible Evidence
But a badge’s value goes beyond the good feeling of displaying a shiny button -- a badge should also be a link to evidence of the student’s achievement. Online badges are typically set up so that a click on the badge can display vital information about that badge: when, where, and especially how it was earned. Ideally, it would even link to the student-created artifact that earned the badge.
So, if someone noticed a filmmaking badge on a student’s blog, one click would show them not only that their badge was earned as a part of their eighth grade digital media class, list the skills they had to demonstrate to earn it, and link to their badge-earning video. Digital badges have built-in credibility because they are directly associated with the skills that earned them. There is no question of whether or not a student truly earned or deserved a badge, because the evidence is immediately available.
The buttons my students receive don’t quite have the fancy link features of a digital badge. However, this method is typically used with younger students, and skills are much simpler at this point, and quite easy for a student to explain. Ask any of my students how they earned that badge with the spotlight on it, and they will tell you all about the short film they made. And, if they have their iPad with them, they’ll probably show you, too. Even though my students’ badges aren’t stored online, they are all required to keep a digital portfolio of their work where it can be seen by classmates. I am currently working on a hybrid system for next year that includes a digital badge to match their physical badge.
3. Defendable Evidences
Shared, viewable work also demonstrates the badge system’s emphasis on demonstrable skills, or competencies, rather than seat time or unapplied, factual head-knowledge. A badge is directly linked to an artifact that showcases a skill. Pretty simple, right? But an open badge system wouldn’t work or make sense if the badges were not strictly skill-based. You can’t provide a link to something a student knows-- only to something a student does. And once a student has acquired skills, they can then demonstrate the mastery of those skills when asked.
Equipping students to name and share their skills will prepare them well for a chancing workforce. Employers may have been satisfied with the name of a school, the name of a degree, a GPA, and maybe a transcript in the past. However, businesses have been noting for years a growing gap between the skills needed in their workplace and the skills of their prospective employees. As a result, employer preferences are shifting towards resumes and portfolios that demonstrate skills, not just schooling. Students who learned in an open badge system not only possess those necessary skills, but are more than ready to describe, define, and demonstrate their skills.
#edbadges #digital badges Tech teacher’s new book offers a fresh approach to motivation, assessment, teaching, and learning for the 21st Century student
Panama City, Panama -- June 1, 2016 School may be out, but dedicated teachers never stop looking for new ways to engage their students. Teachers seeking an educational title to add to their summer reading list will have an innovative new option starting June 24, 2016, with the release of Brad Flickinger’s book Reward Learning with Badges: Spark Student Achievement. Flickinger’s revolutionary approach, developed in his elementary technology classroom, emphasizes real-world skills and rewards mastery with leveled badges. Instead of lesson plans, letter grades, lectures, and quizzes, the badge system empowers students to take charge of their education by exercising choice and overcoming challenges.
Flickinger’s system incorporates elements of several current educational movements, including gamification, flipped classroom, project based learning, and growth mindset. If the results he has seen in his classroom are any indication of the program’s potential, teachers everywhere should take notice. Flickinger and others who have pioneered the badge system report unprecedented student buy-in and achievement, as well as a revitalized teaching experience. Initially developed for teaching technology, this adaptable framework can be applied to almost all grade levels and subject areas.
As a seasoned teacher, technology director, and self-proclaimed geek, Brad Flickinger has learned much, and continues to learn, through hands-on trial, error, and success. He shares his insights as an international educational speaker, award-winning blogger, and, as of June 24, published author. For more information about Brad and his work, or to pre-order Reward Learning with Badges, visit Brad’s website at: http://www.fromboredtobadges.com.
Reward Learning with Badges is published by the International Society for Technology in Education, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of effective technology education in the digital age. Their standards for technology education have influenced educators around the world as they strive to effectively prepare students to meet the technology demands in today’s workforce and society. Flickinger’s system incorporates these standards.
The above is press release 1 for my book.
Brad Flickinger is the Technology Resource Facilitator for The Metropolitan School of Panama in Panama City, Panama.