Ryerson University

Project Description

Original Goals:

  1. To provide students with a tool for validation for achieving core, intermediate, and advanced levels of seven overarching development themes, including collaboration, communication, community engagement, innovation and problem solving, leadership, personal management and responsibility, and storytelling with research and data.
  2. To enable students to showcase their achievements and skill development on social networks through badge distribution.
  3. To encourage students to use their e-portfolio as a means of reflection and application for badges.

Our goals were forced to change over the course of the project due to the inability of CanCred to integrate into our learning management system, Desire2Learn (D2L). With the shortened timeline, the scale of our badging process was reduced. We changed the badging process from one based on very specific skill development to one based on completion of workshops and courses. Our original plan was to just badge within the Student Life department, but after a few conversations with our Learning and Teaching Office, we expanded to include two of their courses as well.

We consider this project a partial success. We were able to try out a badging program and process, as well as assess whether the distribution of badges provided an incentive to students on a small scale. While the D2L integration issues were limiting, we were still able to carry out the project.

Badging Team Description

Collaborators/partners involved in this project include:

  • Student Life
  • Learning and Teaching Office (LTO)
  • Digital Media Projects

Communication and collaboration across these three areas mentioned were consistent, clear, and ongoing. Badges were distributed by both Student Life and the LTO. Similar communication in terms of the value of badges was provided across both areas. Instructions provided to students for accepting the badges were consistent across both areas and were delivered in the form of a PDF.

Badging System Structure

Ryerson aligned its badges to the programs listed below with their outcomes summarized. Please see Appendix A for details.

Clifton Strengths Training 1
Total number of learners: 23
Number of badges issued: 5
Assessment method: Survey to measure learning outcomes as presented in the session.

Clifton Strengths Training 2
Total number of learners: 10
Number of badges issued: 3
Assessment method: Survey to measure learning outcomes as presented in the session.

Clifton Strengths Assessment
Total number of learners: 1,011
Number of badges issued: 125
Assessment method: Completion of the Clifton Strengths assessment.

ThriveRU
Total number of learners: 11
Number of badges issued: 5
Assessment method: Completion of the four ThriveRU sessions and self-assessment based on learning outcomes.

LTO Level 1
Total number of learners: 144
Number of badges issued: 68
Assessment method: Completion of a course.

LTO Level 2
Total number of learners: 55
Number of badges issued: 19
Assessment method: Completion of a course.

User Experience

Total Number of Earners: 1,261

Use of Platform

We had 32 different issuing events for the eight badges that were created. We logged into the platform one to two times each week to check on the update of the badges.

Likes:

  • Easy to design and upload badges.
  • From an administrator standpoint, the system was easy to navigate.
  • The reporting information was quick and easy to access.
  • Assuming full integration with D2L, the system has the potential to be a valuable incentive for students to participate in programming.

Dislikes:

  • The slow-moving technical support and length of time it seems to be taking to integrate into our LMS (eight months and counting) was an issue.
  • The badges are not directly shown on LinkedIn; users must go to another link.
  • Without very clear instruction, students had difficulty figuring out the process for accepting badges and adding them to LinkedIn.

Technical Issues
Technical difficulties with the integration of CanCred into our LMS (D2L Brightspace) caused significant delays. In the end, we had to abandon the integration with D2L Brightspace and change how we implement it, since the integration with D2L Brightspace is not available.

Experience w/Training
Training, support and response to questions were all handled in a timely manner.

Value

Please see Appendix A for information on the survey and results.

In terms of communication back to the community, we have started to speak with our partners participating in the Level Up program for the 2018–19 academic year. We will use the information collected through the survey to inform our badging process (distribution and marketing) moving forward this year.

Challenges

Our greatest challenge with the badging system was the lack of integration into our LMS. It was very difficult to operate two distinct systems (Level Up and CanCred) and achieve significant student buy-in. Due to this technical issue, the launch of the badging project was late, forcing us to reassess our initial plan.

Future Plans

We are currently working with CanCred to ensure integration into D2L before committing to a year-long contract. CanCred offered an extension for program use until October 31, 2018, as they continued to work on the integration with our Digital Media Projects team.

In terms of quality and sustainability of the badge system, the exponential growth of Level Up in the 2017–18 academic year was unexpected. Experiencing a jump in numbers from 153 to 8,577 unique users resulted in a need for us to revisit our strategy for high-touch student engagement. In doing so, we decreased the number of badges that would be offered, but offered them to more students. For the future, we have a strategy in place to partner with faculty to create tangible learning outcomes directly linked to competency development (similar to our process with the LTO) to award badges to students.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

  • Provide as much information about the process for accepting a badge as possible to students.
  • Students must understand the value of the badge before they’ll buy into it.
  • Make competencies attached to receiving a badge clear and tangible.