Friday Takeaways: ePortfolios and Digital Badges

Friday Takeaways – Kiwi’s love ’em. In this post, I look back at my week and reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly and see which learnings I can take from this week into the next.

As the first week back at school this week, I was excited to introduce a few new experiments I’d be scheming up over the holidays. One such scheme was the introduction of ePortfolios and digital badges into our inquiry / reading / writing mix. This was based upon a professional goal I have currently – “How might we authentically value a broader range of outcomes on a day-to-day basis”. Digital badges offer a compelling way to do this as you can create badges for a wide range of outcomes such as curiosity, challenge, collaboration, feedback… as well as the more academic, content focused outcomes (grammar, punctuation, spelling etc). It enables you to place value on the range of dispositions, knowledge and skills which comprise a holistic, future-ready education.

I also figured that unless there is somewhere to show these badges off (to family and friends) then they would not be as motivating. Enter the ePortfolio, where they can pop their badges and their learning into for the term, as well as customise a fun home page with a selfie, bio, and anything else they wanted.

At the start of the week I introduced which badges were up for grabs – some were one-offs (like a badge called “The Chef” – we were writing “learning recipes“) others will be available each week (feedback, editing, curiosity badges etc). The students didn’t seem too fussed on the whole idea on Monday, but by yesterday as the deadline for the writing (and hence, badge acquisition) approached, the whole badge thing really ramped up. The students did want to earn them – there was a buzz in the air as they finished their drafts and moved onto the badge earning. From my anecdotal observations, there was indeed a higher rater of work completion, more effort put towards giving each other feedback, and more careful editing. What was especially great to see was my more reluctant writers talking about their writing together and really putting in a fantastic effort to get through the tasks.

What also worked particularly well was that we were learning about good learning this week – what were the qualities and dispositions of good learners. I printed out the badges and stuck them on the wall and we were able to make direct links between what we were learning about and the badges, for example, we learned that good learners are open to feedback – look, we have a feedback badge! Good learners are reflective – look, the Mirror Mirror badge!

My workflow with the badges is that this weekend as I’m going through their writing and providing feedback (in Google Classroom) I’ll leave comments saying which badges they have earned. On Monday, they’ll go into their writing and look at the feedback and make changes, see which badges they’ve earned, then go to our shared Google Drive folder where the badge .jpg files are, copy them into their own Drive, then insert them into their Google Site ePortfolio I pushed out to them all using siteMaestro. Phew!

As a note – I designed the badges in Credly then just took a screenshot of them. It seemed the easiest way to get them into the hands of the kids the quickest.

 

So, my Friday Takeaways:

– Continue with digital badges as they seem to be quite motivating

– Develop more badges for Thinking Skills and award these during the week

– Think about badges in other contexts

– Read more about gamification – I don’t want to develop a reliance on extrinsic motivations such as these

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2 comments

  1. Hi Matt
    I like that you are mindful that badges can detract from the learning if not used carefully. Could they be used as a way to induct new students into school? Though I suspect you have a more stable student population than I do.

    Stephanie

    1. Hey Stef – cheers for the comment! Yes indeed, it’s a thin line between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but I’m running with it at the moment to see what happens. I guess they could be used to induct new students – you could have badges for anything really.

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