Our open badging project introduced digital badging to enhance professional development credentialling programs at Georgian College. Currently, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Georgian College celebrates the achievements of new and experienced faculty and provides motivation to participate in ongoing professional learning by offering both a teaching practice credential (TPC) and recertification opportunities. One of our goals was to provide exposure to the use of digital badges in CTL workshops and enable opportunities for faculty to consider how micro-credentialling can be used to enhance learning within their own programs of study and grow the use of digital badges within the institution. This additional outcome aligns with the institutional strategic goal to empower faculty to select and use a variety of technologies in the classroom. Our vision was to offer a series of micro-credentials and motivators for faculty by tying digital badges to specific pedagogical competencies.
We tied digital badging to the Learning Online to Teach Online (LOTTO) program, which is a contributing component to achieve the TPC or recertification. LOTTO has been designed for teachers who are interested in learning how to teach effectively in an online learning environment and was an excellent choice for this project because it is tied to a framework for quality assurance (Quality Matters). It is regularly delivered online asynchronously (twice per semester, three semesters per year), which provides many opportunities for a large number of faculty to participate in the program.
We consider our project a success. We had several faculty complete the modules and claim their badges. Many of those faculty have expressed interest in designing their own digital badging system, and we will be working with them to do that in the coming months.
Badging Team Description
Our team consisted of myself (Alissa Bigelow, Instructional Design Technologist) and Amy Goruk, Instructional Designer. Although we were a small group, we were able to fulfill the needs of the project and ensure everything was set up for success each semester.
LOTTO is delivered in a fully asynchronous format and we did not interact with our learners directly. Instead, we communicated through email and our learning management system (LMS), Blackboard. An introduction to the project was included in the first week’s email. A reminder announcement about the project was posted in Blackboard during week 3 and at the midway point, and a final reminder was communicated in the week 6 announcements and closure email. Our learners were also our colleagues so we were able to gain some valuable feedback from them as the project progressed. Due to the nature of our project, we did not communicate with employers or other stakeholders.
Badging System Structure
Learners participating in LOTTO had the opportunity to earn seven digital badges throughout the six-week program: Newbie, Communications Champ, Multimedia Madness, Planning Prodigy, Ready to Launch, Tying It All Together, and after earning those first six, the Guru badge. Over the course of the project, we had 44 people enroll in LOTTO with 33 completing all six weeks. The following lists how the total of 78 badges were earned:
- 43 individual badges:
- Newbie – 11
- Communications Champ – 9
- Multimedia Madness – 7
- Planning Prodigy – 5
- Ready to Launch – 6
- Tying It All Together – 5
- 5 Guru badges (representing 35 badges in total to these earners)
Our badging project helped the faculty participating in the LOTTO program develop various digital competencies as outlined by the NC Digital Learning Competencies for Educators:
- Leadership in Digital Learning: Faculty learn how to integrate digital teaching and learning pedagogies.
- Digital Citizenship: Engage in responsible and professional digital social interaction.
- Digital Content and Instruction: Learn how to select and use digital tools and resources for instruction.
- Data and Assessment: Use technology to make data more accessible, adjust instruction to meet the needs of a diverse learning population, and reflect upon their practice through consistent and effective assessment.
These competencies were achieved by completing tasks in each module and sharing with the rest of the group. A variety of digital tools were used to demonstrate the competencies and included using tools such as discussion boards, screencasts and videos, wikis, a blog, and online quizzes.
Our badge system is currently linear because we wanted to keep it relatively basic for the pilot. We plan to expand digital badging into our TPC programs. As we expand, we expect the linear nature to evolve as some of the badges earned in LOTTO can be applied or transferred and integrated with programs in the TPC.
I was not aware others could use the platform so I was the only one with access. I used the platform a few times each semester to monitor the progress of the pilot. Overall I found the platform to be relatively easy to use. The forms that were required to be completed for each stage of the badge creation process were straightforward, and the numbered progression from step to step to guide issuers was nice. We experienced some technical issues between the platform and our LMS and unfortunately had to use a workaround method that contained more steps for our earners to claim the badges. CanCred was fantastic to work with throughout the entire project. Don Presant was able to connect us directly to the technical team and was in constant communication throughout the whole process.
We received some good data about learners and those who claimed badges from the CanCred platform. Unfortunately, during initial testing I neglected to check a box that would exclude my badge from the live system so some of our numbers are a bit skewed. The platform does not provide the ability to delete users from the system, so there was no way for me to clear my badges from the reports.
We also developed a Google form to gather feedback from our learners. Initially we had an adaptive release setup so the form appeared once the learners claimed their week 6 badge. However, we found that we wanted feedback from those who did not participate in claiming the badges as well, so we changed the delivery of the feedback form to be embedded for everyone in the badging area of the LOTTO course shell in our LMS and encouraged everyone to complete it. Understanding why some didn’t participate is also very valuable information.
The results of this project will be included in the Board of Governors report and publicized via our internal news portal. Participants were encouraged to complete this feedback form:
A significant challenge we encountered was that there were too many steps for the learners to get the badge from our LMS to the eCampusOntario portal and then to LinkedIn, which we found was the drawing factor for many who participated. The learners had to click the link to the badge application from within our LMS which took them to the badge application form in the CanCred platform. In order to claim the badge they had to click a link in the confirmation email they received from CanCred and then proceed to getting the badges into the eCampusOntario badging portal which included having to create an account and then load the badges. Even though extensive documentation and support was provided (including a screencast tutorial), this process was not straightforward and deterred some learners from claiming the badges. Unless there is a smoother transition from our LMS to the eCampusOntario portal, the opportunity to grow badging within the institution will suffer.
Another sticking point was an issue between CanCred and LinkedIn in which the badge images will not display to showcase the badges in LinkedIn; instead the college logo is displayed.
Our Vice President Academic has approved extended access to the CanCred platform for an additional year in an effort to grow digital badging within the institution. The CTL is currently offering a badging e-learning module within our LMS. Members of the CTL team are directing people who are interested in learning more to this module and to me for one-on-one support. We are planning to meet in the near future to determine goals and how to grow this initiative.
The amount of support we will need in the coming year will be determined by the uptake. We will definitely need to work with CanCred to figure out a smoother way to issue badges to learners and how we can get more accurate reporting data, as I can foresee new badge issuers will also accidentally neglect to exclude themselves during the testing process.
- Determine the competencies you wish to badge before you begin.
- Be sure to select a program/course/professional development suitable for badging.
- Ensure you will be able to provide a smooth transition between earning, claiming, and sharing the badges.