Hi! I’m Katie Freund, and I’m a new staff member at ANU also working on the badges project with Inger. I currently work as a digital learning developer in the College of Asia and the Pacific and am responsible for the learning design and implementation of badges for our project. I’d like to share some of the findings from our initial focus groups with ANU students about badge design. But first, a quick update about where we are up to with our badges project.
After several months of investigating the various options for delivering badges, our team has finally set up and issued our first badges to students! As Inger discussed in a previous post, using badges in ANU’s existing learning management system (Moodle) was not as easy as it appeared. As we were faced with several months of committee meetings and user testing in order to activate the badges plugin for Moodle, our team decided we’d need to find another avenue to deliver the badges. Extensive consultation with legal and marketing teams resulted, and in the end we have signed up for Credly, a commercial service for delivering badges. After students complete the relevant activities inside Moodle, they can receive a badge via Credly for their records. As of today, we’ve given out nine badges!
As you might image, there were many discussions as to what the badge could (or should) look like. What shapes, colours, and icons could we use to represent the achievements of ANU students? How could we communicate information about different types of courses in the design of the badge? And how important is how the badge looks to the students who will be earning them?
We posed this question to a focus group of HDR and postgraduate students here at ANU, and were very surprised by some of their responses. We showed several existing badges, such as those possible using Credly’s badge builder…
…and those offered by the Chicago Summer of Learning.
These were roundly dismissed by the ANU students:
“The graphic stuff is gimmicky.”
“It looks like the stamps by little boy comes from childcare with!”
and my favourite, “We don’t want it to look like it was fun being at ANU!”
The group was adamant that it needed to include the university logo, and that the icons in the centre were too childish for their purposes. They spoke about ANU’s reputation and brand in ways that would make the marketing teams very proud: they wanted badges that would communicate the seriousness and weight of their university degrees. In fact, rather than showcasing the particular skill they had developed, the focus group participants indicated it was the ANU brand that they wanted to communicate instead.
But as most unviersity staff know, the brand and logo of the institution is something closely held, and even more closely guarded. ANU’s legal and marketing teams brought up concerns about the appropriate use of the logo when using a third-party service like Credly. In order to proceed with using the third-party service, it became apparent we would not be able to use the university crest or logo in any of our badges. So the challenge went to the graphic design team at ANU Marketing: how do you evoke the ANU brand without actually using any of the brand elements in your design, in a way that is scalable and sustainable for any future badges that might be needed?
Luckily, the team had some lovely solutions for us.
We have used the stars to indicate the level of the course (1-5 stars), and the third badge resembles the seal on a testamur for high-level badges of achievement. The scroll in the middle badge evokes the ANU logo without actually including it. The icons can be customised to suit the type of course, and the different colleges can use their official colours. While students were not as interested in icons for communicating the type of course, we believed it was essential to have them in order to quickly and clearly communicate what the badge is for possible employers – particularly if a student receives several badges from the ANU.
Our next step is to show these badges to the students in our pilot project for further feedback and discussion, but we’d love to hear your thoughts as well. If you are using badges at your institution, are your students as brand-conscious as those at ANU? How are your institutions dealing with issues of brand identity and use of logos on badges?
You can follow Katie on Twitter @katiedigc for more on badges and everything ed tech!