Tuesday, February 25, 2014

(Some) Secret Badges Revelaved!

Well, Week 4 has begun in the graduate course I am teaching, and it was time to tally up some numbers to see if any secret badges needed to be released and awarded to students in the course.  Of the 8 secret badges I designed for this course, four of them have been discovered by students one-quarter of the way through the course! This is actually pretty nifty!  So what are the secret badges that were revealed this weekend?

Helping Hand

Description: A helping hand can be like a compass showing you the way to the solution.

Criteria: To earn this badge a learner needs to respond to at least two fellow learner's troubleshooting question with an answer that gets the initial learner "unstuck" from where they currently are stuck in their project, or in the course.

More info: The idea behind this badge was to reward students who help out others students with some of the technical issues in class. For example a student may not know how to "collect" discussion forum posts for easier reading, or subscribe to a discussion thread so that they receive emails when something new is posted.  Of course the instructor can help take care of some of these issues, but fellow classmates are very good resources for fellow students.  They can share workflows with each other, point out features and functionality previously unknown to fellow students, and they can help troubleshoot.  All this comes together to create a learning community that is invested in the learning of they fellow classmates and creates (in theory) a supportive environment for learning.


Bug Squasher

Description: This is awarded to a student who has discovered at least 3 issues with the course (dead links, permissions issues, description of materials that aren't visible, etc.) and has contacted the instructor to try to fix this. By doing this learners are contributing to the continuous improvement of the course.

Criteria: Over the period of 13 weeks, a learner must have identified at least 3 bugs with the Blackboard course, and must identify them in a collegial manner that encourages continuous course improvement.

More info: Every semester, without fail, no matter how much preparation and testing I've put into the course, there is always a dead link, or a permissions issue from when the course is copied from a previous semester and files are inaccessible.  Sometimes, during runtime, I have also forgotten to open up (make visible) a discussion forum for the week (how can I forget to do that?). In cases like these there are students who discover issues early on and allow me to fix things in the back end early on so that the class doesn't skip a beat. This badge awards students that not only discover these bugs, but also relay this information in a colleagial tone.


Beyond the Course

Description: This badge demonstrates that a learner has been able to successfully connect external readings, in the course discussions in a way that expands their own, and their classmates', understanding.

Criteria: In order to receive this badge a student must:
  • Quote something relevant from an external reading in a way that enhances the classroom discussion;
  • Provides background to the reading, not just a stray quote, to setup context for sharing this particular quote;
  • Provide a citation or link for this information (i.e. "I read this on ASTD magazine" won't suffice) ;
  • Must do this at least 3 times in a semester
More info: The course isn't a a separate entity, divorced of it surroundings! What you learn in a course connects with your previous knowledge, and will connect with the external world after the course is done.  Even though there is a provision in the discussion forum rubric to connect with external knowledge, this external knowledge can be readings or personal experience.  This badge awards class participants for sharing relevant readings that learners can look up and read at a time convenient for them.


Sharing is Caring

Description: Throughout the semester the badge earner has shared a tip, trick, or best practice with the course classmates or the community of instructional designers. You've given everyone a 1up!

Criteria: In a blog post (on umassid.com during the first week) or discussion forum (on Blackboard throughout the course) the learner will have shared a software or design tip, trick, or best practice. In order to be awarded this badge, a learner must have shared something at least 3 times during the 13 week semester.

More info: One of the things that I've seen over the semesters is that some students share tips and tools with their fellow students. Not just any random tool or tip, but tools and tips that address the design needs of their fellow classmates. This is just a tip of the hat to those who are team players and want to help out their fellow learners by sharing something they know that could be helpful to their classmate.  A tip can be a link to a handout or guide, a link to a "how to" for specific software, or it can be a recommendation for a piece of software or service that can be of use to a specific need expressed in the forums.


What do you think of these initial badges?




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