Loyalist College

Project Description

Original Goals: This initiative will explore using the CanCred platform to capture competencies and skills that students gain outside of the classroom – through volunteering, workshops, self-study, and workplace experiences — in co-curricular badges that can be used as evidence of employability skills in action. Current students and past graduates will be able to use these badges in existing resumes and/or digital portfolios — and in a centrally developed transcript — to highlight achievements in 6 areas of institutional focus. By aligning initial badge offerings to institutional objectives and engaging with on-campus specialists and community partners, the project will have full institutional support.

The goals and vision of the badge system have not changed from the initial project goals. Yes, we consider our project a success. The project provided structure to establish a project steering group. Accomplishments included conducting research in co-curricular badging with other Post Secondary Education Institutions in Canada and the US, and experiencing the CanCred platform through the creation and testing of badges.

Badging Team Description

The project steering group included Christine Eddy, Manager, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning; Paul D. Smith, consultant; Lyndsay Kerik, senior career and alumni services officer; and Julie Sullivan, distance education development analyst. The project plan had been presented and approved by the academic leadership team.

The project team created a badging survey and conducted research with other post-secondary education institutions in Canada and the United States on their use of badging, identifying successes and challenges.

Three members of the project team attended and networked with attendees of the eCampusOntario Open Badging Forum on November 22, 2017. Steering group members attended and participated in eCampusOntario badging clinics. Following a clinic we had a subsequent virtual meeting with Jeff King and Brenton Wimmer, University of Central Oklahoma, regarding their Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) and specifically STLR Employer Advisory Boards.

Members of the project team have met with Brad Labadie from the East Central Ontario Training Board to review the local Employer One Survey and discuss community partnership. Additionally, the Loyalist Career Centre is acting as a consultant, leveraging its partnerships with local employers and feedback collected from graduates entering the workforce to ensure co-curricular badges address in-demand skills, skills gaps, or emerging opportunities.

Badging System Structure

The distance education analyst partnered with the senior career services advisor to draft two co-curricular scenarios, leveraging our Loyalist Shield Health and Wellness initiative and student government scaffolding. The analyst accessed CanCred and created additional sub-organizations and additional badges, and issued badges for testing purposes.

The Health and Wellness program was identified as a viable test area for initial co-curricular badges.

Competencies include a demonstrated ability to manage one’s own personal health, wellness, and stress. Three levels of badging would be attainable:

  • Bronze Star: Health and Wellness—100 points from the four tenets.
  • Silver Star: Health and Wellness—200 points from the four tenets.
  • Gold Star: Health and Wellness—300 points from the four tenets.

The four tenets are learning, community, leadership, and self-reporting.

Students gain the competencies outside of the classroom through volunteering, workshops, self-study, and workplace experiences. Example activities might include placement completed in a wellness-related field, such as being a captain of an intramural team, a volunteer orientation leader, or a leader of a wellness ambassador team; being active on an athletics support team, in residence life role, in a campus recreation role, as a member of community wellness club, or a community event leader; attending a community event attendance; using the fitness facility; participating in a campus recreation activity or in residence life activity session, etc.

User Experience

Two staff accessed and tested the CanCred Factory platform during the pilot. We used the platform intermittently. We liked the ability to design the badge, create sub-organizations, and issue the badge. We felt the format of the email to communicate the badge issuance was effective.

Technical issues during internal testing occurred when we recognized server issues due to internal email settings at Loyalist.

The badging clinics, Basecamp site, and shared badging resources were very helpful for researching the badging landscape. Response to technical questions was very timely and helpful.

The eCampusOntario Open Badging Forum on November 22, 2017, was a great opportunity to learn from employers and community partners offering insight and networking opportunities.

Value

We have issued badges for testing purposes so have not yet gathered evaluative data other than that collected for those tests.

Challenges

One of the challenges internally is resourcing the technical resources and infrastructure to support implementation of the badging system goals. Additionally, we need to ensure the focus is on the real purpose of the badge and not lost in the design and graphics phase.

Externally, students may not leverage their co-curricular record and use the language of learning outcomes to enhance their skill articulation and showcase their diverse array of skills. Lack of the students’ use/ability in articulating outcomes may affect the perceived value of the badge/co-curricular record by employers.

Future Plans

Our project is at the milestone of investing further in exploring graduate attributes and badging. The mandate of the graduate attributes coordinator (GAC) is to develop Loyalist College’s framework for graduate attributes designed to ensure that graduates possess specific attributes to prepare them for work and life. The GAC understands the national landscape of experiential learning, including co-curricular record, portfolio development, career education employability skills, and measurements (specifically badging). The context of these attributes will be embedded in curriculum, applied to the further development of our programs, and developed through meaningful experiences and the process of learning and reflection outside of the classroom environment.

By aligning initial badge offerings to institutional objectives and engaging with on-campus specialists and community partners, the project will have full institutional support. Partnering with local employers and the local training board will inform the badging system implementation.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Badges are an emerging platform that are understood by a marginal number of employers and a larger, but still limited, number of educators. We are in the early stages of adoption of the technology.

  • Be optimistic about the potential of badges, but temper your expectations with realism. Badges have the potential to change the labour market, but a great deal of promotional groundwork needs to be done.
  • Be patient with badges. We are in the shaking-out phase, and it is likely that we will see multiple false starts, with solutions emerging as dominant, and then falling back. Think programming languages, or VCRs.
  • Be prudent with your planning. Build your badging program slowly, working with projects on the edges of your operation, such as staff PD or a selection of distance education courses. Make sure your badge initiative is robust before attempting to integrate it with core academic offerings.