What Sheila’s seen this week: badging the world and flipping the classroom

Earlier this week I attend a digital badges as bridges event hosted by Digital Me in Glasgow. As well as catching up with some familiar faces it was good to have a bit of time to think about badges again and find out about the badge the world initiative.

I really like the idea of badges.  Although I’ve won/earned/issued badges over the past few years, they are still a bit of a novelty for me.  Every time I go to an event where they feature, or have a discussion where they come up, I always come away thinking  “ I need to do something with my badges”.   Trouble is, I’m still not quite sure what or where . . .  I do share them sometimes on blog posts, but again the session has made me reflected on the  value I place on my badges.

Every badge I have earned, has meant something to me, particularly as a learner. The badges I earned on the OLDS MOOC were a bit of lifeline in terms of sustaining motivation and continued participation.  But I don’t have a burning desire or perhaps more importantly need to curate and share them. Some are in my backpack and other’s aren’t.  That said I do believe that there is “something” about badges. I think that they do have a role to play in rewarding and recognition of learning.  I’m just still trying to figure out how, where and why I could use them.  But maybe that’s not that surprising. I don’t exactly “do” much with my formal accreditation. The last time I even looked at my degree/PG certificates was when I had to bring them with me to my first day at work here at GCU two years ago.

With colleagues at my institution I am  exploring use of badges for non accredited “stuff” and looking at piloting them within formal programmes but we have a way to go. It was re-assuring that many people at the event were at the same stage. The badge bit is easy, it’s the pathways all the “rest of it” that are still causing a lot of head scratching. Slides from the event are available here.

I was also asked to present at the University of Stirling’s e-learning forum on flipping the classroom this week.  A bit like badges, flipping is something some people are still getting their heads around. Unlike badges, many people are actually ‘flipping’ their teaching – sometimes without actually realising that is what they are doing. I shared the work of our Mental Health nursing team, which I’ve written about previously and developed a case study on.

There was quite a bit of discussion around creating resources (particularly video), and the need for (quiet) spaces where staff can create videos as well as the challenges of building online teacher presence. These are both  issues we are very aware of  at GCU, particularly as we are in the middle of major campus development project.

As we develop new learning spaces, and increase our fully online provision, we need to ensure we have adequate teaching space for our staff to run online sessions, and create resources. It was reassuring to hear that evening a leafy, pastoral setting such as Stirling, noise is an issue.

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2 comments

  1. For me, Sheila, badges relate to a bigger issue: the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in learning. I referred to it like this a recent post: intrinsic motivation is ‘a desire/need to do or to know something better because of deep engagement with the object of the learning’. Extrinsic motivation include both ‘a desire to “get on” in the world’ by achieving marketable qualifications and ‘a psychological need to be patted on the head by the teacher/lecturer as surrogate parent’. In practice, of course, motivation will nearly always be some mix of the intrinsic and the extrinsic, but I do feel that during the course of my (long) time as an educator we have moved more towards extrinsic motivators, largely as a result of the dysfunctionally hyper-competitive world in which we now live. Way back in 1967 I decided to do a music degree because music was the thing that engaged and fascinated me. I did not give any thought to what sort of job I might get after the degree because everybody with a degree got some sort of job in those days. A young person today might think twice about following their instincts and passions in studying the thing that fascinates them most – which is a great shame.

    Like you, Sheila, I still feel fairly new to the badge business, but it seems to me that they could work as both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. On the one hand a badge represents more ‘clutter’ that one carries about to prove one’s worth to oneself and to others in a world of qualification inflation. But on the other hand, reading the first few ‘Open Badges as Bridges’ slides made me think that badges could act as an intrinsically valuable means of charting and reviewing one’s life journey, and deciding on what aspects of learning do (in Howard Thurman’s words) ‘make you come alive’. Here is the whole Thurman quote, which I believe could be tattooed on the forehead of every careers adviser:-) “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I do hope badges might play some part in helping people to come alive.

    • Thanks Terry, yes you are absolutely right about intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Wish I’d thought of that before writing the post. I guess just now we are all trying to figure out the best way to chart and share our journeys. Thanks for sharing, really useful comments.

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