Open Badges & Motivation

Last time I mentioned how the students’ online presence helps both the students and the teachers keep track of their progress. By having them use Twitter, blogs and comments to report on their progress, we create an open system that helps awareness of the class activity for both teachers and students.

Thanks to Jose Luis Santos‘ trackers, we have detailed statistics on every student, showing us the amount of blog posts, tweets, comments but also the interaction between students and people outside the course. Indirectly, we can get an estimation of the quality of e.g. a blog post through the amount of comments it has received from others. We can also quickly discover inactive students.

Apart from just raising awareness, we also want to promote activity, quality and results. We try to do this through gamifying the progress of the course. This gamification concept comes from videogames where certain milestones and actions are rewarded and shared publicly with all your friends. These rewards are more commonly known as achievements.

In the learning environment we have set up, we can visualize the progress of our students through graphs and raw data through applications such as StepUp! (Jose Luis Santos) and the Activity Stream (Gonzalo Parra) but we can also limit this visualisation to the important milestones and actions reached during the course. And for this, we use badges (following the Open Badges standards).


Badges give the students an immediate overview of their achievements and allow them to compare these accomplishments to their peers. Through a personal badge dashboard (see image) they know at a glance the state of the class’s progression. It quickly becomes clear which achievements are easy to get, what the student is lagging behind on compared to the rest of the class and what work remains. This information should again raise awareness.

But there is also an immediate feedback which would otherwise be difficult to give outside of class. When a student shows a lot of activity on e.g Twitter, a badge is instantly awarded. Other badges are given after a 2-week period: No activity is not acceptable so a negative badge is awarded; a lot of comments on your blog post means it has provoked a lot of discussion and can be assumed qualitative, which deserves a positive badge. Deliverables are also awarded with badges. A good evaluation on their developed prototypes also deserves a badge.

With this feedback through rewards we hope to achieve a change in bad (inactive) behaviour, promote positive behaviour like activity and quality, and improve awareness in and outside of class. We also hope the dashboard will help the students reflect on their activities. By being aware of their peers’ progress and being rewarded (or not), they can conclude whether or not they are on the right track.

The exact effect on motivation, awareness and self-reflection is still under evaluation. But while we wait for further results, feel free to head over to Navi, the badge dashboard used for #chikul13 and share with us your thoughts!

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