#edtech #iste2016 #edbadges #digitalbadges
Topic 1: The culture of badges.
Topic 2: The three players in badges.
Sponsor: Atomic Learning
Topic 3: Badges on Professional Development.
#iste2016 #edtech #edbadges
Topic 1: going to ISTE 2016
Topic 2: some badges should be hard
Sponsor: Atomic Learning
Topic 3: should badges be voluntary
#ISTE2016 #edtech #edbadges There’s a lot to consider when designing a badge program, so I want to take a moment to get back to the basics. One of the most essential foundations of badges is the fact that they are competency based. If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you’ve probably come across the idea that badges are awarded for skills, not knowledge. I talk about why this important elsewhere, but today, I want to talk about how. How do you make sure your badges build and reward competencies?
To illustrate this process, I’m going to walk you through the birth of a badge. I recently worked with a graphic design teacher who wanted to create a new badge: poster design. We sat down together, and it only took one question to lay the framework for this badge: How do you know that a student is a competent poster designer? The teacher was quickly able to lay out 8-10 different skills that comprised competent poster design. These skills, or competencies, include attractive readable typography, color balance, an attention-attracting element , and clear, high-resolution graphics, to name a few.
Once we had this list of competencies, we asked a second question: how do we make sure students are trained in these competencies? Both of us took to YouTube, and it wasn’t long before we had found several excellent training videos on color balance, typography, and the other necessary skills. All in all, this took about 20 minutes, and my colleague was well on his way to offering another competency-based badge in his classroom. He would then go on to design the badge challenges and the artifact around these competencies, but once he had that list of skills, he had the heart of his badge.
To recap, then, these are the two questions that you can use to ensure your badges are competency-based:
1.How do you know that a student is a competent ______________?
That blank gets filled in with the name of whatever type of practitioner you are asking your students to become for this badge. How do you know that a student is a competent blog poster? How do you know that a student is a competent map designer? How do you know that a student is a competent nutritional meal planner? How do you know that a student is a competent survey preparer and interpreter? How do you know that a student is a competent online researcher? You’ll note that most of these questions end with “er,” which denotes a noun based on an action or process. This phrasing will keep your answers action-based, and soon you’ll have a list of competencies.
2. How do we make sure they are trained in these competencies?
This is the part where your students’ library of resources gets built. Going through your list of competencies, you find or create the videos, articles, lectures, or podcasts that your students will use. Once competency may require multiple resources, or one resource may train students in multiple competencies.
By asking yourself these two basic questions, you will design competency-based badges that will equip your students with invaluable skills.
#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.
Brad Flickinger is the Technology Resource Facilitator for The Metropolitan School of Panama in Panama City, Panama.