Notable Notes: Classroom Badges

All, Education, Notable, Teaching, Technology

I have been teaching with badges for years and I love them. I have written about my love affair with badges in the past (see Using Badges to Assess a Class Community Assignment and Grading With Badges Revisited) and presented at conferences about how I use them (see Badges, Blogs, and Google+: Clicking in an Online Learning Community). Through the years the base assignment has stayed the same – students are given a list of badges and descriptions (developed by earlier classes) and they award the badges, including evidence to support the award, to their classmates for their contributions to the class via discussion, class blog, and/or workshops. I usually hold a badge award ceremony at midterm and the end of the semester – usually offering candy or some other treat along with the badges earned. However, I have gone through various iterations of how students make their badge awards, because this was always the flawed part of an otherwise perfect plan <wink>. Tracking and counting badges can be incredibly time consuming. But this semester I chose to have students award badges at the end of every unit (or major assignment) and they did so using a Google form (another obsession of mine – see Grading Using Google Forms). I gave students a worksheet so they could keep track each week and regularly reminded them to keep track of helpful and inspiring classmates. The form makes two essential contributions to badge awards. First, it makes it super easy to count up badges and scan evidence in one quick glance because those votes can all be downloaded in an excel file. But the real unanticipated benefit is that it makes it easy for me to share not only the badge votes but also the evidence with the students. Reading the evidence brings tears to my eyes every time I read through the list and students are really touched by what their classmates have to say. Such a wonderful and unexpected benefit of grading with badges.

However, there are many different ways to use badges in the classroom and one favorite is to use badges to mark progress toward a goal or recognize specific achievements. You can learn more about the ways that non-educators use badges for these purposes on Edudemic’s Teacher’s Guide To Badges In Education. Shake Up Learning also offers 5 Awesome Resources for Badges in the Classroom if you do not want to build your badge system from scratch like I did.

Another useful resource for getting started with badges was posted on Inside Higher Ed by Alan Reid and Denise Paster. Their Digital Badges in the Classroom offers some great general tips as well as an example for how to use badges in a writing classroom or workshop.

Kristin Fontichiaro and Angela Elkordy also provide a great overview about badges in their ISTE post Chart Students’ Growth With Digital Badges.

Holli Vah Seliskar writes about the benefits of badges as well as offering tips to get started using badges in your classroom in Using Badges in the Classroom to Motivate Learning.

Kira J. Baker-Doyle notes “[b]adges can be a great tool to foster community, recognize learners in unique and interesting ways, and provide students with a record of their accomplishments beyond the traditional grading structure in 8 Things I Learned About Teaching with #OpenBadges

Chris Aviles argues that badges are a great motivation and engagement tool for at-risk learners in  Gamify Your Class Level III: Badges.

Have you ever thought about adding badges to your class toolbox? How do you use badges in the classroom?

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