Stinkin' Badges: Why We Need 'Em and How to Use 'Em


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Listen to session audio while manually viewing slides at: Presentation w/ Rudy McDaniel and Joseph Fanfarelli at 2014 Information Fluency Conference.

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  • Reserved for Rudy’s Intro
  • Title Slide
  • Joey BeginThe concept of badging isn’t really new. It’s been around since at least the Napoleonic Era, when Napoleon Bonaparte issued ribbons to his military for exceptional service. We’ve also seen it in Boy and Girl Scouts for decades, and more recently, we’ve seen it in video games.
  • So, what is a badge? It’s actually two things in one – a task and a reward. It can present a task to be completed, it can be a reward for completing a task, or it can be both. In badging systems, we typically see three types of rewards: One type is Internal – something within the system, extra credit or points that have no value to the outside world. Next, we see external rewards – something outside of the system, discounts or free “stuff.” Finally, the badge may serve as the reward itself, similar to a trophy.
  • But badges have gained an unparalleled amount of attention in the past few years. NASA is looking to increase STEM education in grades 4-12, by creating badges geared toward teamwork and robotics. Purdue is currently beta testing its badging system as a method for showcasing a greater breadth of its students skills, moving beyond a simple complete/incomplete framework for each class. Other major players include the Smithsonian Institution, UC-Davis and the MacArthur Foundation.
  • But what makes them so interesting? When properly designed and implemented, badges serve a variety of beneficial purposes. They can serve as….It’s worth noting that achievements can be expected or unexpected, and this distinction is critical. Knowing which achievements exist can facilitate goal setting, but can reduce motivation. Unexpected achievements can increase motivation, while removing the ability to aid in goal setting. Careful design is essential when developing a badging system.
  • Joey EndSo what does this mean for the educational setting? Badges may motivate students to do their best work (or maybe even additional work!). They can help students be successful by better defining the path to success. They can more precisely track progress in comparison to the final grade in the course. With badges, you can state that a student implemented hydroponics, rather than simply saying a student received an “A” in Agriculture. Also, by implementing unexpected badges, we can encourage students to implement creative thinking in an attempt to discover the achievements. We will now discuss our experiences in teaching three instances of University courses, two that have been completed, and one that is currently in progress.
  • Kelvin Begin
  • Kelvin End
  • Joey BeginWe’re currently using badges in two university courses. Here is the breakdown. 158 Undergraduates are being included over one semester. There are two courses, graphic design with 99 students, and web design with 59. Two sections of each course, for a total of four sections, and one section of each course has badges.
  • The courses are meant to prepare students for the Adobe Certified Expert Exam, while teaching them the fundamentals of web and graphic design. They are completely web based and taught over the traditional 16 weeks. The courses have a balanced emphasis on quizzes and exams, and project-based assignments.
  • In the course, the badges are unexpected. The students do not know which badges exist. They are private. Students cannot see the badges that others have earned.They are both objective and subjective. For example…Several are awarded automatically, when a student attains a particular grade on a quiz or exam. Others are awarded by the instructor.
  • The interface simplifies the instructor award process. It is built directly into the gradebook. Since students can see there grades, the names of the badges had to be codified, broken down into abbreviations, as you see above. To award an achievement, the instructor clicks to place a checkmark in the appropriate cell. When they system next updates, the achievement will be awarded to the student, who will receive an e-mail.
  • Badges can be found right from the course menu, where all of the other important course information resides. This is the instructor view. As you can see, I haven’t earned any badges. For a student, this would be populated with the badges they have earned. From the instructor view, I can see every achievement that has been given, when it was given, and who it was given to.
  • When I click one of the badges, I can see the full description. This functionality is also present on the student side, allowing them to know why they achieved the badge. This description is also present in the notification e-mail they receive.
  • Joey EndOur current goals with the course are to improve motivation, engagement, and academic performance. We are also looking to see if the number of achievements earned can be used to predict grades in a certification preparation course. Concluding the semester, we will undergo data analysis to see how well these goals were achieved.
  • Kelvin End
  • Stinkin' Badges: Why We Need 'Em and How to Use 'Em

    1. 1. Stinking Badges: Why We Need Em’ and How to Use Em’ Rudy McDaniel, Joseph Fanfarelli, and Kelvin Thompson Information Fluency Conference University of Central Florida February 27, 2014
    2. 2. Outline • • • • Overview Four Quick Case Studies of Badging Projects Toward a Badge Design Taxonomy Discussion / Q&A • Note: these slides can be downloaded from: or
    3. 3. Achievements and Badges • Achievements, or earned tokens of accomplishment, often encourage players to spend more time within digital systems (esp. videogames) and to alter their playing habits in order to unlock particular types of challenges (e.g., find every coin in a given area or unlock a particular puzzle within a certain amount of time). • Badges, or visible markers of achievement, have now made the transition from entertainment media to other forms of scholarship and pedagogy, particularly in online learning environments (Jindal, 2011; Bruckman, 2004; Lindgren & McDaniel, 2011; Lindgren, McDaniel, & Friskics, 2011).
    4. 4. Badge graphics courtesy of Matthew Dunn
    5. 5. Badges Are Not New Video Games Military Girl Scouts
    6. 6. How Do Badges Work? • Badge = Task-reward system. – Task - Can present a task to complete. – Reward – Can also serve as a reward for completing the task. • Rewards for completing goals can be – Internal to the system (e.g. Points). – External to the system (e.g. Free or discounted “stuff”). – The badge, itself.
    7. 7. Badges Are Gaining Widespread Attention • A few familiar names that are actively taking part in badging: urdue
    8. 8. What Makes Them So Interesting? • Badges can serve as: – – – – – Goal setters Motivators Inspiration to Explore Creativity Boosters Progress Trackers • Connect Badge Criteria to Course Objectives • Expected vs. Unexpected Badges – Foster different goals. – Expected may help in achieving a specific purpose, while Unexpected may hurt the purpose (and vice versa).
    9. 9. Implications for Education • Motivate students to do their best work. – Or additional work. • Help students set goals for clearer routes to success. • More precisely and creatively track progress, in comparison to the final grade in a course. • Encourage students to implement creative thinking to discover unexpected achievements. • We will now discuss some of our implementations.
    10. 10. Dumb(?) Things I’ve Done with Badges • • • • Badges seen only by recipient Badges not easily shareable Badges as “back-handed compliments” Badges for required activities
    11. 11. CASE STUDY #1: BLENDKIT2012
    12. 12. BlendKit2012 Subject Type Blended learning Professional Development Level Size Badge Source Badge Platform Focus 1230 enrolled Graphic designer Developer + Mozilla Framework Competencies Grades/Badges Badges only List/Easter Eggs Badge list Viewable By Status Self Complete
    13. 13. CASE STUDY #2: EME5050
    14. 14. EME5050 Subject Ed Tech Type Academic Level Grad Size 15-25 Badge Source Badge Platform Focus Purdue Passport Credly 2nd level Competencies Grades/Badges Grades + Badges List/Easter Eggs Easter Eggs Viewable By Status Class 3rd Iteration Underway
    15. 15. CASE STUDY #3: AEM
    16. 16. Course Structure • 30 different modules to choose from at 10 different points in the semester. • A back story involving a media mogul recruiting new students (the “dream job” scenario) is released via four different animations throughout the course.
    17. 17. Example Module Selection
    18. 18. Assessment Approach • Implementation of course technology and curriculum with ~100 students in Fall 2010 and ~200 students in Fall 2011 was successful • Badges were added in Fall 2011 version of the course
    19. 19. Sample Badge
    20. 20. Comparing Badges
    21. 21. Assessing the Effects of Badges • Several components of assessment including student project analysis, focus groups, and comparisons to other courses • Focus here is on engagement and learning surveys that asked specifically about the badges • 206 students completed at least one survey • 127 completed both pre- and post-surveys
    22. 22. Student Surveys To what extent did you believe that having the ability to choose which module to take throughout the course was a positive feature that helped you to learn? Extremely Positive Mostly Positive Somewhat Positive Not at all Positive I found myself working harder on assignments/projects in order to acquire achievements. Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree In the last 8 weeks, how often have you discussed ideas from this course outside of class? Very Often Often Sometimes Never • Some questions adapted from the 2010 NSSE
    23. 23. General Attitudes
    24. 24. General Attitudes
    25. 25. Attitudes - Badges Felt Achievement System Had Positive Impact on Course Motivated by Other Students Receiving Achievements 7 = Strongly Agree 7 = Strongly Agree 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 Males Females Males Females
    26. 26. Attitudes - Badges Variable 1 Felt Achievement System Was Positive (1 to 7) Worked Harder To Receive Achievements (1 to 7) Worked Harder To Receive Achievements (1 to 7) Seeing Others Get Achievements Was Motivating (1 to 7) Pearson Correlation (r) Significance (p) Discussed Ideas Outside of Class (1 to 7) .175 .040* Commented On Other Students’ Work (1 to 7) .217 .010* Amount Of Time Spent Collaborating With Other Students .242 .004** Total Number Hours Spend On Course Per Week .158 .064 Variable 2 • Post-Survey: Positive feelings about badge system was correlated with other positive feelings in the course
    27. 27. Assessment Summary • Importance of “framing” the achievement system at the outset • Interesting gender patterns – suggests badge systems may be a productive means of targeting female learners
    28. 28. Case Study #4: Two Current UCF Courses • 1 Semester, 158 Undergraduates • 2 courses: Graphic Design (99 students) and Web Design (59 students). – 2 sections of each. » 1 section of each has badges. » 1 section of each does not. Graphic Design 1 Graphic Design 2 Web Design Web Design 1 2 Badges Yes No Yes No Students 49 50 30 29
    29. 29. Current Courses: Background • Courses are meant to prepare students for the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) Exam in the related software. – Web Design = Dreamweaver – Graphic Design = Photoshop • Completely web-based 16 week courses. • Balanced emphasis on Quizzes / Exams and Project-based assignments.
    30. 30. Current Courses: Badges • Badges are: – Unexpected - No list of possible badges can be found by students. – Private – Students cannot see the badges others have earned. – Both Objective and Subjective. • Objective – Named all layers within a Photoshop project. • Subjective – Helped a classmate succeed – Awarded both automatically and by the instructor.
    31. 31. Method of Award • Checkbox in gradebook for each badge simplifies the process
    32. 32. Viewing Badges • Badges can be found from the course menu, like other important course information.
    33. 33. Viewing Badges • Click a badge to see how it was earned
    34. 34. Current Courses: The Goals • Improve: – Motivation – Engagement – Academic Performance • Identify: – Can number of achievements earned be used to predict grades in a certification preparation course?
    35. 35. Badging Observations • Each stakeholder determines value o Issuer, Earner, “Observer,” (Displayer) • Potential value in each phase of badging: o Underlying data/record o Notification email o Claiming (“Save and Share”) o Making public o Linking to specific badges
    36. 36. Unanswered Questions to Ponder • Why do badges appeal to some but not others? • Does badging really engage the unengaged? • What is the right balance of automation and personal attention for course badging? • What is the relationship between badges and formal credentials? • What is the right balance of curricular and co-curricular badging at an institution?
    37. 37. Toward a Taxonomy for Badge Design • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Subject (e.g., information literacy; educational tech; interdisciplinary; etc.) Type (e.g., academic; professional development; etc.) Level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate; etc.) Tiers (e.g., single tier; multiple difficulty tiers; three cumulative tiers; etc.) Issued By (e.g., single issuer/multiple; instructor; organization; etc.) Scale (e.g., course-level; discipline-specific; institution-wide; public; etc.) Population Size (i.e., to whom badges are available; e.g., 1230; 35; 217; etc.) Badge Image Source (e.g., graphic designer; badge making template; etc.) Platform (e.g., Purdue Passport; Credly; etc.) Focus (e.g., core competencies; off-topic diversion/fun; secondary competencies; etc.) Grades/Badges (e.g., badges only; badges = grades; grades & badges separate; etc.) Fixed/Extensible (e.g., defined list of badges; new badges suggested/added on the fly; etc.) Expected/Unexpected (e.g., published list (“a priori”); discovered Easter eggs; etc.) Visibility (e.g., issuer; earner; bounded group (“class”); public; etc.) Status (e.g., complete; interrupted; underway; planning; etc.) Version 1.1
    38. 38. Thank You! • Rudy McDaniel,, @rutang5 • Joey Fanfarelli, joseph.fanfarelli • Kelvin Thompson,, @kthompso Badge graphics courtesy of Matthew Dunn