In the twenty-first century, learning takes place almost everywhere, at all times, on all kinds of paths and at all kinds of paces. With the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen, young people and adults can access a wealth of information, analyze it, and produce new knowledge at any time. They can do this, moreover, on a “just-in-time” basis, getting the information they are most interested in, in virtually whatever format they choose. — from Mozilla (Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges)
Why Learning Badges?
According to the report, digital badges are “credentials that represent skills, interests, and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, courses, and other activities.” They provide a digital hyperlink to information about the badge’s associated skills and the projects or tasks the badge holder has completed to earn it. Here are a few important benefits of learning badges:
- Because of the changing economy and the demand for high-skilled, well-rounded workers, there are lots of conversations about how to assess the broader set of outcomes students need to develop, and how to determine whether students have attained them, in or out of school. Badges can help accomplish this goal by enabling multiple measures of achievement and competencies. You can also attach evidence of an accomplishment (similar to an e-portfolio), align with standards, share with other teachers or students, or attach rubrics.
- Learning pathways differ from student to student, badges can bridge those differences and provide students with opportunities to follow their interests, and connect what they have learned, anytime, anywhere, to academic achievement, and career success.
- Badges could play an important role in competency-based education. Competency-based education allows students to advance by demonstrating that they have attained certain competencies rather than by showing that they have spent a certain amount of time in class. Badges issued by colleges and universities could serve as evidence of students’ demonstrated mastery of content, even content acquired outside of the formal learning environment. Badges bridge the divide between formal and informal education, and they have the power to transform competency-based learning and hiring practices.
- Badges can also provide a learning “map” to help learners see the skills that matter and the options for gaining those skills. Students who want to be hired for specific jobs in particular fields can tailor their learning experiences, seek learning opportunities, and receive badges that align with what employers are seeking.
How will digital learning badges benefit mobile learning? How will badging go mobile? Here are two examples.
How can Badges be Used in Seamless Mobile Learning?
Seamless mobile learning harnesses the portability and versatility of mobile devices to promote a pedagogical shift from didactic teacher-centred to participatory student-centred learning. Learners learn whenever they are curious and seamlessly switch between formal and informal contexts and between individual and social learning. SamEx was developed for the Windows Phone 7 and 8 mobile operating systems in the Seamless Learning Curricular Innovation in a Singapore primary school. Activities were designed for primary school students who used SamEx throughout a 1-year period. In addition to collecting, storing and accessing multimedia artifacts, SamEx can store contextual users’ information for potential educational use. Depending on the current time and users’ location, the system allows question prompts to be displayed on students’ smartphones potentially facilitating or scaffolding learning tasks. To reward students’ activity, SamEx leverages on its own badge system, an extrinsic motivational tool. By collecting media, answering location-aware questions, providing comments to other students’ questions and liking other students’ work, students take part in a game to accumulate points leading to the earning of badges in five categories and 4 levels per category. This badging system also get to understand different learners’ attributes.
Throughout our studies three groups of students were identified: (1) Badge Hunters, (2) Sharers and (3) Dodgers. Badge hunters are only interested in attaining high levels of badges and they only respond to extrinsic motivation and do not care about quality of contributions. Sharers are on the other hand interested in sharing with their peers while earning their badges and their participation is more consistent and with higher quality. Dodgers are not interested in earning badges at all.
A Mobile Badge Reward System for K-12 Teachers
The authors contend a mobile badge system that gives teachers recognition in the area of mobile technologies and applications integration is needed to encourage professional development for K-12 teachers. In this paper the authors review the current situation of K-12 teachers, describe badge reward systems and how they work, propose a novel mobile badge reward system for K-12 Teachers, and describe the possible benefits that can be gained from implementing such a system.
Digital badges are making anytime, anywhere learning a reality for learners of all ages who want to pursue their interests with tangible results. But, these two cases haven’t leveraged the potential of Experience API(xAPI). While seamless learning, or mobile learning, provides more opportunities of learning anytime, anywhere, hopefully, xAPI aims to track diverse learning activities seamlessly. It’s possible to get a more detailed dynamic picture of learners’ attributes, behaviors, profiles and evidences of learning, and connect learners with recognition and personalized learning journey. We’ll talk more about this later.