Getting Started – Course Badges

 

Welcome!

If you are new to educational badges you are in the right place. This page introduces students and all website visitors to badges: what they are, how they work, and how they fit into our course.

** NOTE: Students who wish to ‘log in’ to this site or upload achievements should return to the front page and click on the link associated with their course.

What are ‘Badges’?

Some of us may associate ‘badges’ with the decorations given in the military or the achievements that are rewarded with a badge in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. In both of these organizations badges are displayed and are closely tied to one’s status and rank within the group.

A better comparison to our digital badge system may be found, oddly enough, in the world of video games.

Achievement badges or ‘trophy’ systems can be found from casual games like Candy Crush and Minecraft to platform games and long-form games such as as Mass Effect and The Last of Us. In this system, badges are tied not to rank or status. Instead they recognize specific achievements or learned skills, often in a progression that ties various skills together.

The aim of the educational badge movement is, of course, not gaming and play but learning and education.  Like gaming badges, educational badges only exist digitally.  They are earned and then collected in an online portfolio where they can be referenced by student and instructor alike.

Digital Badges and Portfolios

Educational badge portfolios–online sites for students to collect and display badges on the web–have become common at other institutions of higher education from UBC to the University of California.

Many educators have embraced badges as a form of self-directed learning. Instead of all students doing all activities together at the same time, badges allow for a more flexible learning space, which unfolds at the student’s own pace.  Badges can also be effective for recognizing learning activities that take place outside of the formal classroom.

No matter how it is used, the educational badge system supports your learning by charting your progress inside and outside the classroom. Each step you take within a course earns you a digital badge: a sign for both you and the instructor that you have acquired the skills associated with that badge.

The digital badges you earn are automatically added to your online portfolio. They can be shared with others (students, friends, employers), displayed in social media (Facebook, Twitter), or simply kept private, to be seen only by you or your course instructor.

Badges and Grades

How do badges differ from grades? Do I get points for my badges?

Looking at the bigger picture, some educators have begun to look at badges as a possible (future) alternative to grades. Instead of an abstract, empty letter or number (a “grade”), or a vague stamp of “excellence” (like a “gold star”) a badge represents a specific and concrete skill, notable accomplishment, attendance at an event, or completed task. Some educators, as a result, have proposed that schools should begin looking at issuing badges instead of grades or degrees.

In our course however, badges work within our course grading system, not as an alternative to it. They are a way to chart your progress and also to see how one set of skills built on skills learned earlier in the term.

A digital badge is a sign that some activity has been completed. It does not, however, assess that activity or make a claim about whether the activity has been done poorly or excellently.  That remains the role of the grading system.

Still, our badges are course specific. Unlike completed credit courses or formal tests or exams, badges are not a substitute for recognized credentials that can transfer from school to school, or from organization to organization.

Nevertheless, badges, like grades, can be displayed to those who are seeking an informal validation of your preparedness for a task or other undertaking.

How do I Get Started?

Look on the left side of the page on the front page of this website. Find the course you are currently enrolled in and click on it. You will be shown the badges that are available for you to earn as part of this course.  Start with the “Getting Started” section if you are new to the course or to the idea of badges.

All of our course badges are issued by the website Credly (www.credly.com)  Before you start collecting badges you will need to sign up for an free account here. This will allow you to collect and display your badges to others, including the course instructor.  You may disable your Credly account at the end of the term and lose your badges, or you may keep the account open. This will allow you to collect more badges from the organizations that are now issuing them (an incomplete list of some of these organizations can be found here).

Are any special technological skills required to set up and take part in our course digital badge system?

No. Most badges require the submission of written work to the instructor in order to be achieved.  Some badges require students to upload a screen shot to this website to prove their accomplishment.  On Windows the “Snipping Tool” app is the easiest way to do this and on a Mac, the key combination for taking a photo of your screen is ‘Command (⌘)-Shift-3’ (all keys held down together).

Lastly, make sure to review the information on your course home page about badges and marking.  Some badges come with ‘points’ (5 points, 10 points, etc.) that may–depending on the course–allow you to translate your completed badge into actual points or marks for the course. Other badges are ‘neutral’ (worth 0 points): they do not contribute directly to your grade in the course, but support your learning in other ways. Consult your course outline for specifics.

Either way all of the badges represent specific assignments that will contribute to your successful completion of the course.

Further Reading

Go to the front page, register at Credly and start badging.  Any badges you acquire will automatically display on the front page of this website whenever you visit.  Badges that have been given to you by your instructor can be found on your Credly home page. You can accept them there whenever you receive a new badge.

More advanced badgers may wish to download the Credly app which is available for iPhones/iPads as well as for Android smart phones. This will make your portfolio mobile.

Lastly, I encourage all students who are curious about the open digital badge system to visit our “Readings + Resources” page by clicking here.

This ends the basic introduction. Happy badging!

* NOTE: Still confused? Try the video below.

Brian Ganter | 2015-16 Capilano University