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Learner eXperience Designers (LXD) Exploring the Feasibility of Badging

Beth Burns

Project Team
  • Jason Welborn, Buffalo State
  • Ken Fujiuchi, Buffalo State
  • Mark McBride, Buffalo State
  • Meghan Pereira, Buffalo State

Buffalo State College


Tier Two

Project Abstract:

In a recent case study published by EDUCAUSE, a badge is defined as a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest. Erin Knight and Carla Casilli of Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) are exploring the use of digital badges—online representations and records of achievements and skills—for learning contexts. (Knight, E. & Casili C., 2012) Badging has the potential to become an effective approach to assessment, accountability and motivation in a variety of applications. It is an emerging trend in education that poses a new method of representing skills and achievements that may be difficult to document. The exploration of badging has the potential to open up new ways of visually representing an individual’s skills and knowledge, as well as mapping his/her intellectual development. Badging also allows individuals to visually navigate a path to knowledge, either guided or self-motivated. As such, the Learner eXperience Designers (LXD), a collaborative group at Buffalo State, would like to spearhead the exploration of integrating badges on campus and in higher education. Specifically, the LXD are committed to evaluating the logistics and effectiveness of implementing badges in three specific areas:

Within a course

Badges can be used to assess the progress and knowledge of individual participants within a course. They can also be used to represent certain measurable steps that lead to the learning outcomes for a course. For the purpose of assessing the feasibility of badging within a course, the LXD have chosen to work with an upcoming Massive Online Open Course (MOOC): Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OER's (OER-101). It is a Creative Commons Licensed course designed to provide a framework for developing open courses, open textbooks and open educational resources (OERs). The LXD and Empire State College’s Center for Distance Education have partnered to facilitate and design the course, which will be offered via an open- source Learning Management System (LMS). Badging will be used to track and motivate participants, who will work at their own pace, to complete individual modules or the entire course. The LXD and Empire State will work with BadgeStack to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a badging system for completion of course components.

Within a Computing Help Desk worker training program

Badging will also be assessed and deployed in the development of a Help Desk training regimen, which will include a comprehensive manual along with several short video tutorials to complement the manual. The potential benefits of incorporating a BadgeStack badging system are twofold: it will allow the Help Desk manager to track the progress of new student hires, and it will also allow the students to gain recognition for accomplishments and skills they acquire outside of the classroom. Badges could be implemented for a number of areas including skills assessment, promotion, peer training, and peer assessment. They could allow student workers to quickly determine which members of the staff possess the skills needed to assist the less experienced workers. Additionally, the senior members of the staff could provide a peer assessment of worker skills, allowing students to bypass the usual training steps to earn badges via a manual trigger.

In LXD practice

Finally, badges will be implemented and assessed to help track everyday LXD activity. The team will use the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) Design model to assist patrons with selecting and assessing the proper technology for their desired learning experiences. Badges can be employed to represent the type of technology that is chosen, document how it is used, and to track the learning outcomes. Additionally, the LXD team can issue badge for those participating in professional development, trainings, courses, or projects as a means to track overall interest in specific technologies and technology use on campus. The use of badges could assist the LXD in identifying who on campus has the technology knowledge and experience that might be utilized for future ideas and research. It would also allow the LXD team to track the effectiveness of technology so that faculty can make informed decisions about which elements to integrate into their classrooms for optimal results.

Portability and Application of Badges

The portability and application of badges is constantly evolving. The LXD will explore the many possibilities associated with the portability and application of the badges it awards, including hosting them within Badgestack and embedding them into social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and WordPress. Additionally, the LXD will investigate the plausibility of using the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure and Badge Backpack. Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) is attempting to create a badge ecosystem that allows participants to collect and share their earned badges in the “Badge Backpack” and allows the badges to be displayed in other OBI systems. OBI also includes a method of authenticating and verifying badges which will allow for the creation of accredited badges, as well as accepting and verifying badges that are accredited from other institutions. Ultimately, the LXD hope to apply what they learn about badging to guiding faculty through the process of adding a badge system to their course. Phase 2 of this grant will focus on the campus-wide implementation of badging that could be replicated across SUNY.

Project Outcome:

Through our exploration of badging in three areas: in an open course, in a help desk training program, and in faculty development, we came up with a badging application that could be used by the SUNY community in order to easily incorporate the course badging process onto campuses.

Project Outcome Report (with important links and files)