Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Introducing Digital Badges Within and Around Universities

Dan Hickey
Sheryl Grant from HASTAC recently posted a detailed summary of resources about uses of digital badges in higher education.[1] It was a very timely post for me as I had been asked to draft just such a brief by an administrator at Indiana University where I work.  Sheryl is the director of social networking for the MacArthur/Gates Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative.  Her job leaves her uniquely knowledgeable about the explosive growth of digital badges in many settings, including colleges and universities.  In this post, I want to explore one of the issues that Sheryl raised about the ways badges are being introduced in higher education, particularly as it relates to Indiana’s Universities.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Initial Questions About Digital Badges and Learning

by Daniel Hickey
This post suggests some initial questions about learning that you might want to ask if you are considering using digital badges.  A version of this post is being prepared for the November 2012 edition of EvoLLLution magazine.  That article will consider how digital badges can be used to both enhance learning and recognize learning in ways that might help colleges and universities attract larger numbers of adult learners back to school.  This post poses these same questions in a more general context.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Incorporating Open Badges into a Hybrid Course Context

By Dan Hickey
I recently incorporated digital badges into the online aspects of my doctoral course on educational assessment (“Capturing Learning in Context”).  There are two aspects of this effort that readers might find useful.  The first aspect concerns the way students award simple “stamps” to highlight significant contributions or insights from classmates. I use those stamps to award three “one-star” badges each week; I will use the one-star badges to determine how to award three two-star badges at the end of the semester.  I will elaborate on this in a later post.  I also removed the section on using the Mozilla Open Badge backpack to another post as well. This post is already going to be pretty long! 

In this post I want to describe how I used ForAllBadges (from ForAllSystems, a small Chicago firm) to issue digital badges within a typical online course management system (CMS).  Anyone who wants to issue badges that comply with Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) can easily sign up for a free account at http://www.forallbadges.com/.  The account can be used as a stand-alone site, or it can be accessed from within any CMS that lets you access outside websites.  I am using OnCourse, the Sakai-based open-source CMS that Indiana University helped develop.

Pushing Badges from ForAllBadges to a Backpack and Beyond

By Dan Hickey and Andi Rehak

In a separate post, Dan explained he used ForAllBadges to issue OBI-complaint badges within the Oncourse course management system.  This post explains how these badges earners can "push" their badges out of the class and into their open badges backpack and beyond to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

This post is intended to be a very concise explanation for using backpacks when using the ForAllBadges platform.  In particular it highlights the fact that badge earners must have an open badges backpack before they can push their badges to it.

For more general guidelines, check out Mozilla's wiki on badgesinformation for badge issuers and the open badges FAQs. P2PU's Open Badges 101 sprint and  Mozilla Open Badges google group are also very helpful. If the terms like "issuer" and "earner" are confusing, check out Carla Casilli's blog on the open badges lexicon

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Intended Purposes Versus Actual Functions of Digital Badges

By Daniel Hickey
On September 4th and 5th, there was a meeting at the National Science Teachers Association in Arlington, VA.  Al Byers of NSTA and Kyle Peck of Penn State organized the meeting to discuss the online NSTA Learning Center for science educator professional development.  I was only able to make it to the second day of the meeting where Kyle discussed the pilot work with the site and his use of digital badges from the Teacher Learning Journeys project.  In the afternoon, Sunny Lee and Erin Knight (Mozilla Foundation) and Brian Mulligan (Sligo Institute of Technology, Ireland) and I did a panel on digital badges that Kyle moderated.. 

One of the questions about badges that came up seems like a crucial issue as we grapple with different ways of characterizing and describing badges.  This post aims to add the category of badge functions to other badge taxonomies like the one by Carla Casilli. Because these issues are complex, this post ended up being rather long.  You may wish to jump directly to the summary at the bottom.  You may also wish to read a condensed version at the HASTAC website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Digital Badges and Games for Impact

By Daniel  Hickey
It has been almost a year since the 2011 kickoff meeting of the MacArthur Foundation’s Badges for Lifelong Learning Initiative.  What a fascinating year.  It finished off with some really interesting meetings with some of the most innovative minds in education and learning.  I have learned a lot about how digital badges and other new technologies might help assess, motivate, recognize, and evaluate learning.  In the next few posts, I want to share some of the things I learned and discuss some of the issues that have come up.  In this post, I want to consider the potential of digital badges for re-igniting educational videogaming, and reiterate the central affordance of digital badges.  I also want to tell everybody to go see The Art of Videogames at the Smithsonian before it goes on tour.

White House OSTP Meeting on Games for Impact

Constance Steinkuehler and OSTP Leaders at Games for Impact Meeting
On July 26th, I attended a meeting where the groundwork was being laid for a multi-university consortium that would focus on Games for Impact.  The meeting was organized by Constance Steinkuehler of the University of Wisconsin, who is on loan as a senior analyst at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  It was a fascinating meeting involving 20 university faculty, 40 other collaborators, and perhaps a dozen program officers for DOE, NSF, and elsewhere.   Digital badges were only tangentially related to the meeting, as the educational gaming community faces numerous challenges at this time.  The obvious question for me is how digital badges might help address these challenges, and if so, how that might proceed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Role of Artifact Reflections in Participatory Assessment

By Rebecca Itow and Dan Hickey

On June 7, 2012, we hosted Bloomington’s first Hackjam in conjunction with the Monroe County Public Library. In our initial recount of the day’s events, we mentioned that we used artifact reflection and digital badges as ways of gauging, evaluating, and rewarding progress in each activity. In this post, we will explain how and why we chose to use reflection and badges as forms of assessment. To read more about the theory of badges as Transformative Assessment, read our June 10 blog post. 

Assess Reflections Rather than Artifacts
We have been struggling for several years to refine practices for assessing artifacts that students create.  It seems pretty clear that badges are going to highlight a problem that teachers and proponents of portfolio assessment deal with all the time: rubrics.  If you attach consequences to the quality of student artifacts, there is a natural tendency to demand detailed rubrics and individualized feedback as to whether the artifact matches what is demanded by the rubric.  Most learning environments are more concerned with the learning embodied by the artifact than by the artifact itself.  So focusing so much on the artifact and the rubric can be quite problematic. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Responding to Michael Cole’s Question about Badges

By Dan Hickey

Michael Cole
I was involved in an exchange on XMCA, the listserv established by Michael Cole’s Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition and the journal Mind, Culture, and Activity.  I mentioned digital badges in the post, and Mike wrote back to ask:

You know there appear to be several people who appear from time to time on xmca involved in the Mac Arthur initiatives where badges are all the rage. For anyone interested in multi-modal representational practices, it is certainly interesting as a subject of CHAT analysis.

Question:  if you are right in your assumption that the BADGE movement will start a trend what do you think that the trend promises or portends more broadly?

I have taken some time to respond, in part because I wanted to get caught up on the latest work by Cole and his students regarding their successes and challenges around the Fifth Dimension after-school computer clubhouses.  The Fifth Dimension is precisely the kind of educational innovation that should be easier to create, sustain, and study when digital badges are widely used.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer 2012 Hackjam: The Wiki

Rebecca Itow and Dan Hickey
In the Fall 2011, we decided to put on a Hackjam in conjunction with the Monroe County Public Library. We adapted the curriculum outlined in the Hacktivity Kit to fit our needs, and partnered with ForAllSystems to implement a badging system for the event. You can read an earlier post giving an overall account of the event here.  We were particularly interested in aligning the hackjam with a Common Core English standard on multimodal writing.  We also wanted to make sure that all of the hackers learned how to discuss coding and writing for the web in networked spaces.  This was where they would want to go for help in the future.

Why Use a Wiki?
In adapting and designing the curriculum, it became readily apparent that, if we were going to have the participants hacking pages and reflecting on their learning, they would need a central place to do this. We began thinking that the best space would be a wiki because it is meant to be edited by multiple users, but each page can be customized to individual participants’ personality and needs. Rebecca had used Wikispaces with her 9th and 11th grade English students successfully in the past. Her experience in her own classroom combined with her participation in Dan’s online classes where they used “wikifolios” to house work and promote discussion convinced us that wikis were the right space for the type of engagement we wanted to foster.
Rebecca made a simple wiki on wikispaces, using the homepage as the place to access general information such as links to tools and websites that would be used throughout the Hackjam.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Three Firsts: Bloomington’s First Hackjam, ForAllBadges’ App, and Participatory Assessment + Hackasaurus

Dan Hickey and Rebecca Itow
On Thursday, June 7, 2012, the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University in conjunction with the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) in Bloomington, IN put on a Hackjam for resident youth. The six hour event was a huge success. Students were excited and engaged throughout the day as they used Hackasaurus’ web editing tool X-Ray Goggles to “hack” Bloomington’s Herald Times. The hackers learned some HTML & CSS, developed some web literacies, and learned about writing in different new media contexts. We did some cool new stuff that we think others will find useful and interesting. We are going to summarize what we did in this post. We will elaborate on some of these features in subsequent posts, and try to keep this one short and readable.

We agreed to do a Hackjam with the library many months ago. MCPL Director Sara Laughlin had contacted us in 2011 about partnering with them on a MacArthur/IMLS proposal to bring some of Nicole Pinkard’s YouMedia programming to Bloomington. We concluded that a more modest collaboration (like a Hackjam) was needed to lay the groundwork for something as ambitious as YouMedia.

Our ideas for extending Mozilla’s existing Hacktivity Kit were first drafted in a proposal to the MacArthur Foundation’s Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative. Hackasaurus promised to be a good context to continue our efforts to combine badges and participatory assessment methods. While our proposal was not funded, we decided to do it anyways. MCPL initially considered making the Hackjam part of the summer reading program sponsored by the local school system. Even though we were planning to remix the curriculum to make it more “school friendly,” some school officials could not get past the term “hacking.”