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Badging Behaviors in Large Open Online Professional Development Courses

#Twitter: 
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Presenter(s)
Beth Nettles (University of Central Florida, USA)
Kelvin Thompson (University of Central Florida, USA)
Patsy Moskal (University of Central Florida, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 9:30am
Track: 
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
All
Session Type: 
Information Session
Location: 
Southern Hemisphere IV
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Session: 
Concurrent Session 9
Virtual Session
Abstract

If you give them a badge, will they claim it? Implications of data gleaned from badging in large open access professional development courses.

Extended Abstract

If you give them a badge, will they claim it? Digital badges continue to gain popularity and are frequently integrated into professional development opportunities as indicators of accomplishment and skill. Right or wrong, it is our expectation that the recipients will accept and proudly, publicly display their earned badges. But do they? Are we doing a lot of work for nothing?

Using self-report surveys, course evaluations, and badge system data harvested from multiple large open online professional development courses, inferences can be made and a more complete picture emerges about learners influenced by digital badges. This session presents the summarized data and discusses the implications of digital badges on participant behavior in an online course.

During the session, we will engage the attendees by soliciting feedback on
* considerations of implications
* what influences the decisions impacting implementation of digital badges
* other experiences with digital badges and online learners

Context:
The BlendKit Course is a set of subject matter neutral, open educational resources related to blended learning developed by Dr. Kelvin Thompson and available for self-study or for group use. The goal of the BlendKit Course is to provide assistance in designing and developing blended learning courses. The materials have also been the basis for four facilitated open, online professional development courses: BlendKit 2011, BlendKit 2012, BlendKit2014, and BlendKit2015. Combined enrollments are well over 5000 participants.

Since its inception, the BlendKit course incorporated digital badges as a method for making evident the participant's progress through the learning activities associated with the course. The goal is to encourage engagement, reward participation, and increase completion rates but in a shareable format that added value to the experience. Moreover, the digital badges also offered first-hand experience with badging to the participants. This exposure demonstrates ways they might incorporate badges into their blended courses and appreciation for the value it adds to the students. It should be noted that earning badges was not a requirement and participants were encouraged to participate as much or as little as they wanted.

BlendKit digital badges are earned for completing each of the twenty-five learning activities. The learning activities are grouped into five topic areas: Readings, Webinar, DIY Task, Information Stream Contribution, and Blog Post/Comment. After completing at least one badge in each of the five categories, the participants would earn a BlendKit Course Completion badge.

For the last two years, the BlendKit Course used Credly.com, a badging platform for issuing and managing badges. This platform gives the participant a mechanism for claiming and sharing the earned digital badges at no additional cost to the participant. However, it also requires participants to create an account, an extra step that may hinder the acceptance of issued badges. Case in point, of the 3,252 badges issued in the BlendKit2015 course only 64% were claimed and shared with the public.

While a previous session explored patterns in enrollment, participation, completion, and satisfaction from the BlendKit 2014 course, this session will focus exclusively on participant badging behavior.