Safely home from #ascilite2014

Emily and I had quite the eventful trip to Ascilite this year, with many delays, cancelled flights, and bus rides to get to Dunedin on time. But we made it safe and sound, and were very pleased to present on our digital badges project.

I’ve collected many of the tweets and photos from our presentation into a Storify, which you can access here: 

A common theme of our discussions with another conference participants was the shared difficulties in testing new technologies or innovative approaches to teaching in the context of a complex institution like a university. The many committees, funding requirements, staffing concerns, legal issues, and so on are a key part of quality assurance and oversight, but are cumbersome to deal with for short projects like ours. In our case, we found the process of implementing badges more in need of investigation than the effectiveness of the badges themselves.

We were all very honoured to receive the conference award for Best Concise Paper.

You can access our paper in full as part of the ascilite proceedings, available here.

Other Badge Projects at Ascilite

It was interesting to see other badges projects presented as well, such as those used in the Carpe Diem MOOC. In this context the badges were attached to each stage of the MOOC, with the final badge as the completion certificate. Kulari Lokuge Dona, who was presenting as part of the Carpe Diem team, discussed how the badges did function to provoke competitiveness in the MOOC participants: while the number of participants in the MOOC did decline throughout its delivery, the completion rate was still much higher that most MOOCs, with around 17% of participants collecting the final badge.

Whether or not this can be attributed directly to badges is, of course, not certain but it is certainly an interesting point. More information can be found in their paper, available here.

Mark Northover and William Liu from AUT also presented on using badges to mark sustainable  and environmentally friendly teaching practices.

In this case, the academics completed a self-assessment to rate how sustainble their courses were according to a series of criteria, and then were able to display their badge to students and colleagues. Their paper is available here.

And finally, Elliott, Clayton, and Iwata explored the use of badges for motivating students. Unfortunately I was in another session while this paper was presented, but it investigates how badges were used for English language development among Japanese medical professionals. For more details, you can find the full paper here.

We’re nearing the final stages of our project now, but will hopefully have a few more updates for you and some reflections in the upcoming weeks.