Sunday, April 13, 2014

Awarding Badges of Honor

Last fall of 2013, Clif Mims asked members via Google Plus about their uses of badges. I posted that I would be experimenting with badges in my upcoming graduate course. This blog post is the first installment of my reporting on the badge experience. I am inviting others to share their stories. 
Image from Mozilla OpenBadges site
I'm teaching an instructional technology evaluation course in Moodle this spring. Among other things, this graduate education course is designed to help learners:
  • Generate a technology program evaluation proposal for stakeholders. 
  • Plan and manage technology program evaluations. 
  • Acquire and employ effective data collection instruments and techniques. 
  • Analyze and draw conclusions from evaluation data. 
  • Report the results of technology program evaluation.
My goal in implementing badges was to start to establish a means by which researchers at Lehigh would be able to view students' skills across several courses in order to help match students with various technology evaluation or research opportunities. I chose four skills related for which I would award badges. The badges were awarded for formulating research questions; choosing and utilizing reliable, valid instrumentation; sampling techniques; and formative evaluation design. It was important to me that learners had ample opportunities to demonstrate mastery of key concepts and the application of these skills. I had hoped to use Mozilla's Open Badges but didn't find getting started as straightforward as I had thought.
 With a busy schedule, I found it easier to slightly modify graphics to quickly design my own badges. In Moodle, I found that the automatic awarding of badges based on criteria didn't always work. We're still investigating why. In the future, I think I will opt for the manual awarding for all four.

The good news is that I was able to actually use the badge data when approached to recommend students for a software research study. Overall, I find badges worthwhile and plan to look into OpenBadges for my next iteration. The other important outcome is that the graduate students seemed genuinely interested in earning them and helping me implement them effectively.

I'd love to hear how others have implemented badges to help assemble project or research teams.

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