Using Digital Badges to Recognize Co-Curricular Learning


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Presentation about University of Michigan Pilot on Digital Badges for Co-Curricular Learning pilot. Presented to Mozilla Open Badges Research Community Call on May 21, 2014 (Notes available here:

This pilot project studied the recognition of undergraduate engineering students' co-curricular learning experiences using digital badges in one semester, Winter 2014. Using a web environment, students described and reflected upon their experiences in categories of competencies that leaders in industry and education have identified when evaluating the future needs of the global STEM workforce. The objectives of the project were to (1) deploy an online system that served to standardize the recognition of engineering co-curricular learning; (2) understand different motivations students have for seeking recognition for their co-curricular learning and whether digital badges satisfy those motivations; (3) maximize the perceived value of digital badges while minimizing undue burden on the student to collect evidence of their co-curricular learning; (4) examine how students discuss, discover, and share digital badges and their supporting evidence, with their peers and with potential employers; and (5) disseminate findings that inform the use of digital badges designed to represent the wide variety of skills that students can acquire through co-curricular opportunities in higher education.

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Using Digital Badges to Recognize Co-Curricular Learning

  1. 1. Using ! Digital 
 to Recognize 
 Co-Curricular Learning Steven Lonn, Ph.D. Assistant Director, USE Lab & Library Learning Analytics Specialist
 University of Michigan Twitter: @stevelonn 1
  2. 2. Acknowledgements 2 • UM Third Century Program • Cinda-Sue Davis, Darryl Koch, Debbie Taylor, Joanna Woods • Caitlin Holman • Mallory Anderson • Rob Soltesz • Digital Badges Advisory Group • Library Learning Technologies Incubation Group (LTIG) • Members of the USE Lab
  3. 3. publications/ukces-stem-infographic-aw.jpg services/resource-center/PublishingImages/stem-jobs-infographic.png STEM
 Workforce Shortage 3
  4. 4. 4 Concerns Extend Beyond Technical Skills
  5. 5. 5 • Successful college transition 
 program - beginning 7th year
 • Overarching goal: increase 
 number of students pursing
 and graduating with STEM
 • Increase diversity
 • Provide students with
 competencies acquired
 outside of the 
 traditional classroom setting

  6. 6. 6 Students often have problems articulating their skills and experiences with recruiters / employers
  7. 7. 7 Stephen JB Thomas from the Noun Project How can students gain recognition and connect their co-curricular learning with their curricular experiences?
  8. 8. 7 Stephen JB Thomas from the Noun Project How can students gain recognition and connect their co-curricular learning with their curricular experiences? How can students communicate their learning with employers?
  9. 9. 8 Initial funding: Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC) Quick Wins Grant ! Awarded September 2013
  10. 10. Employers’ Council Brainstorm on Desired Skills Beyond the Transcript 9 Subcommittee on Undergraduate Retention • International Programs • Leadership • Project management skills • Business Acumen • Conflict Management/ Resolution • Foreign Language • GPA Progression • Communication Skills (written/ Spoken) • Listening • Negotiation skills • Body Language (Cultural) • Technical Abilities • Social Skills • Internships • Intense Research projects • Solid Design Project • Team Skills • Personal Branding • Social Media • Attendance • Integrity • Communication/ Acceptability/ Transparency/ Speed (CAT) • Meeting Commitments on time • Proficient Problem solving capability • Dress for Success • Adaptability to different cultures • Confidence but not arrogance
  11. 11. 10 Student focus groups
  12. 12. 11
  13. 13. 11 • Community Service • Cross-Cultural Experiences • Entrepreneurial Mindset • Ethics • Intellectual Curiosity • Leadership • Professional Development • Science & Engineering Research
  14. 14. 12 • Intellectual Curiosity • Leadership • Professional Development • Science & Engineering Research • Community Service • Cross-Cultural Experiences • Entrepreneurial Mindset • Ethics
  15. 15. 13 Beginner Intermediate Advanced Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised)
  16. 16. 14 Beginner - Community Service DESCRIPTION:! Exposure to concepts of community service ! CRITERIA:! Attend three (3) different types of short-term community service events / opportunities or one (1) long-term community service event / opportunity, is able to remember them, and has demonstrated that they understand the relevant themes and connections ! EXAMPLES: ! Detroit Center, Michigan Outreach, Global Citizenship Club, Net Impact, Edward Ginsburg Center, Project SERVE, Project Community ! EVIDENCE:! 1. Some evidence of attendance or participation for all three (3) activities (picture of you there, note from organizer, screenshot, name on attendance sheet, etc.). 2. Description of the events / opportunities. Experiences should total at least 3 different days / events of community service exposure. 3. Reflection on meaning, themes, connections, and items in reflection prompt (reflection should be brief, but substantive). ! REFLECTION PROMPT:! Using examples from your experiences described above: Community Service - what it is, what it means to you, how is it demonstrated & recognized, importance, relationship to Engineering learning (why is it important to serve the community as an Engineer?) ! Reviewer Notes (not seen by students)! • Recognition of importance. • Be able to identify community service opportunities versus work opportunities. • What are the different types of community service opportunities? • Which ones do you gravitate towards and why? • What community needs are served by these opportunities? • What affect does volunteering have on you & others?
  17. 17. 15 DESCRIPTION:! Analysis and Application of community service concepts ! CRITERIA:! The earner is able to distinguish and describe various aspects of community service and demonstrate community service organizational and troubleshooting skills within one (1) co-curricular context. ! EXAMPLE: ! Become active in one volunteer organization (e.g., Project SERVE), gather information and help select required tasks for identified problems, apply Engineering skills to community service organization needs and issues. ! EVIDENCE:! 1. A short description of the context of your community service work. 2. A written description, video, or other form of analysis of the concepts surrounding community service. • This analysis should also include a reflection on Engineering skills used in your community service work using the questions in the reflection prompt. ! REFLECTION PROMPT:! Analysis of Community Service Concepts: Using examples from your experiences described above: What is the goal of the community service organization? Are they achieving that goal? How could that goal be expanded or the effort better realized? What is required to achieve that goal in terms of people and resources? What are the necessary steps? ! Application of Engineering Skills in Community Service: Using examples from your experiences described above: How have you used your skills as an Engineer in your community service work? Do you require additional skills? Which ones and why? How has your community service work informed your future as an Engineer? Why? ! Reviewer Notes (not seen by students)! • Recognition and application of community volunteerism and application of Engineering skills in community contexts. • Why did you choose to volunteer with this organization? • What have you learned and what has the organization learned from you? • How have your skills as an Engineer informed your community service work? • What problems do you think community service can help address? Why should engineers participate in that effort? Intermediate - Community Service
  18. 18. 16 DESCRIPTION:! Evaluation and Creation of Community Service Concepts ! CRITERIA:! The earner is able to make informed judgments about community service ideas and defend the decisions by summarizing the various options. Through the course of participating and/or helping to organize a volunteer organization, the earner generates, reorganizes, and/or designs new approaches related to the organizational goals. ! EXAMPLE: ! As the co-organizer of the Michigan Relay for Life event, the earner visited several other Relay for Life events and generated a list of ideas that the Michigan event could build upon. The earner worked with the other co-organizers to prioritize, assign, and carry out the generated ideas, greatly improving the quality of the annual event for all participants. ! EVIDENCE:! 1. A short description of the context of your community service experience(s) and what aspects of the work (e.g., planning, fundraising, etc.) you helped organize 2. An email or letter from one (or more) of your community service organization peers explaining how your participation was beneficial and critical to the success of the organization, citing 2-3 concrete examples. 3. A written description, video, or other form of evaluation of your community service skills and experiences, answering all of the questions in the reflection prompt in depth. ! REFLECTION PROMPT:! Evaluation of Community Service Skills: What decisions have you made in your community service work? Why were these the most effective decisions at the time? What were the alternatives? Can you explain and justify your reasoning? ! Creation of New Community Service Skills: Can you think of a new or modified structure, process, design, etc. that you initiated in your community service work? Why was this change needed? Was it a success? Why / why not? How did your team members react? Why? ! Reviewer Notes (not seen by students)! • Compare and contrast community service approaches, goals, and decisions. • Be able to describe the decision-making process and defend decisions made. • With hindsight, explain how future decisions will be informed. • Demonstration of the ability to identify, delegate, and carryout several aspects of community service work including planning, funding, advertising, and logistical management. Advanced - Community Service
  19. 19. 17 Student naming competition for badge name in December 2013
  20. 20. 18 Winter 2014 pilot with 58 engineering freshman in M-STEM Academies ! Pre & Post Surveys Focus Groups Badge Evidence System Use Data
  21. 21. Prior Familiarity with 
 Digital Badges 19 How familiar were you with digital badges? Somewhat 11% A little 21% Not at All 68% How likely are you to apply for a digital badge this term? Very Likely 16% Somewhat Likely 40% Neither Likely nor Unlikely 32% Somewhat Not Likely 9% Not at All 4%
  22. 22. 20 Student designed by Lemon Liu from the Noun Project Checklist designed by Rafael Farias Leão from the Noun Project Selfie designed by Claire Jones from the Noun Project Text designed by Julien Miclo from the Noun Project Blog designed by Oriol Carbonell from the Noun Project Video Player designed by Felipe Santana from the Noun Project Outbox designed by Simple Icons from the Noun Project Worker designed by James Fenton from the Noun Project Profile designed by Ryan Beck from the Noun Project earner views criteria apply for badge? decides reflects creates evidence provides evidence to reviewer does evidence meet criteria? review & resubmit no yes issues badge earner decides which badges to share via Mozilla Open Badges Backpack earner displays badges
  23. 23. Mblem System Requirements 21 • Review badge criteria for all levels • Apply - Review - Return - Resubmit processes • “Hidden” - Awarded badges • All earned badges & evidence viewable by all others
 in the program • Promote sharing, recognition, and variety of
 opportunities • Reviewer and Earner email notifications • Integration with Single Sign-on • Integration with OpenBadges
  24. 24. 22 Mblem online system launched in January 2014 
 All levels, awardees (and evidence), and number of applicants visible to all within the learning community
  25. 25. 23 Criteria includes examples, required evidence, and reflection prompts
  26. 26. 24 Everyone within the program can view earned badges & evidence
  27. 27. Special Badges for 
 M-STEM Academies 25 Recognized as a representative of the M-STEM Academies! ! The earner is enthusiastic and has evident passion about M- STEM and the University of Michigan, and also presents themselves well to their audience. Furthermore, the earner attends M-STEM meetings when not required to do so, volunteers to speak to corporate representatives and/or information sessions, and remains in contact with M-STEM Coaches. Recognized as making a lasting contribution to the M-STEM Academies! ! The earner makes a lasting contribution to the M-STEM community. The M-STEM “Elders” deem this contribution a substantial benefit to the entire M-STEM Academies that will enhance the living and/or learning environment for all participants. Evidence: A sustained commitment to the M-STEM community that cumulates in a program, process, procedure, or other significant contribution or benefaction.
  28. 28. 26 Export Examples Mozilla OpenBadges Backpack
  29. 29. 26 Export Examples Mozilla OpenBadges Backpack Linked In ePortfolio Digital Resume Facebook
  30. 30. Overall Statistics 27 Category Number AwardedCommunity Service 7 Cross-Cultural Experiences 4 Entrepreneurial Mindset 1 Ethics 2 Intellectual Curiosity 1 Leadership 4 Professional Development 5 Science & Engineering Research 3 M-STEM Family Legacy 3 M-STEM Representative 8 27 “Applied for” Badges Awarded (13 students) 11 “Special” Badges Awarded (9 students) 38 Total! Badges Awarded! (19 students)
  31. 31. Examples of Evidence 28
  32. 32. Why Didn’t More Students Apply for Mblem Badges? 30 Category # Agree or Strongly Agree Not enough time due to coursework 21 Did not have pictures or other evidence 19 I do not think that badges will help me get a job 19 I do not see the value of digital badges 17 Did not have time due to co-curricular activities 15 Not enough time due to work and/or family 13 Could not remember activities to qualify 9
  33. 33. How useful do you think badges will be in supporting your future conversations with potential employers? 31 Very Useful 14% Somewhat Useful 23% Neither 17% Somewhat Not Useful 17% Not Useful at All 29% Didn’t Earn a Badge Somewhat Useful 47% Neither 26% Somewhat Not Useful 5% Not Useful at All 21% Earned a Badge
  34. 34. How useful do you think badges will be in supporting your future conversations with potential employers? 32 Mblems are not universally known so it may be time consuming to explain what it is and then talk about how you achieved it. These badges will allow for a more clear and detailed discussion of accomplishments, backed by the review and approval of M-STEM.
  35. 35. 33 Digital Badges and the 
 Value Proposition ! • Implications for motivation • Self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002) • Autonomy • Competence • Relatedness ! • What is the value proposition for employers? • Distilling badges • The casual glance vs. detailed review ! !
  36. 36. 34 Future Plans: ! Expand to all M-STEM Academies (Engineering & LSA) students in 
 Fall 2014 (approx. 450 students) ! Additional Potential Pilots: UROP, Housing Digital Literacy Project, Digital Media Commons, etc.
 Partnerships with other universities: Purdue, Penn State, Michigan State, others