A couple of months ago I wrote about introducing Badges for Learning onto my class blog to link specifically to my classroom management system both in the online and offline world. I had initially encountered badges from the likes of Foursquare and GetGlue where ‘checking in’ to locations and films allowed me to earn badges/stickers.

Get Glue Stickers

Get Glue Stickers – unlocked by ‘checking in’ to various television programmes and films.

Foursquare badges and GetGlue stickers initially sowed the seed of how digital rewards may be used in my classroom. It wasn’t until I encountered Doug Belshaw’s tweets and blog posts about #openbadges that I began to think in a more concrete way about how such an idea could be embedded in my classroom.

I’ve read with interest the work of Julia Davies who has talked a lot about the way blogs create a virtual territory which, although delineated, can blur boundaries for when the space begins and ends (Davies, 2006). Her work into Teen Wiccan sub-cultures through blogging is fascinating stuff – as is a lot of the ethnographic research included in this book. Julia’s work constantly sees blogs as online digital ‘cubby holes’  – also linking to Wenger’s notion of Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1998). She argues that blogs can disrupt the binaries of online and offline worlds (Davies, 2006: 60) which is exactly the concept I am trying to develop with Badges for Learning.

In a general sense I want our class blog to become the digital ‘cubby hole’ for online activities linked to our school work – children can access all of our internet services through the blog using unified log-ins and passwords. I also want Badges for Learning to transcend both online and offline spaces – blurring the boundaries and rewarding skills, activities and achievements in both online and offline spaces. Initial response has been excellent.

When I wrote my last blog post we had five available badges – we now have fifteen. Five of these badges have been created by the children in my class – both the design and awarding criteria.

Example Badges for Learning Backpack

An example ‘Badges for Learning’ Backpack

For further explanation of the low-tech way I set up the badge packs then see my previous post about badges. I still use exactly the same method. We now also have an Apply for a Badge page using the Support Tickets WordPress plug-in as badges cannot automatically be unlocked and it’s impossible for me to keep track of who needs which badge.

In short, Badges for Learning works very well. I would really like a WordPress plug-in that could automatically issue badges linked to post counts etc but I am happy for the badges to be linked to skills rather than something quantitative. Letting the children design badges and awarding criteria also gives them ownership of the programme too. This is a very powerful model I am very keen to develop.

My next line of enquiry with Badges for Learning is to create a new set of badges that link specifically to new media literacy competencies such as the work of Jenkins (or perhaps Mozilla Web Literacies). I will be sure to blog about this when it happens. In the meantime I’m really keen to hear your thoughts on Badges for Learning/Open Badges and also any ways in which you have embedded badges into your classroom or setting.

Davies, J. (2006). Escaping to the Borderlands: An Exploration of the Internet as Cultural Space for Teengage Wiccan Girls. In K. Pahl, & J. Rowsell, (Eds.), Travel Notes from the New Literacy Studies: Instances of Practice. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice, Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Featured image used under Creative Commons License – Creative Commons License dennis crowley

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