As Seton Hall’s Pirate Adventure begins, incoming students will be introduced to the campus and each other in a unique way. Their adventure will include the ability to earn digital badges as they engage with the campus and their new peer network. Some of the badges available include the “Extrovert Badge”, “Curious Pirate Badge” and “Pirate Gear Badges”. At the time of this writing the last orientation group is on campus, hopefully exploring the QR codes that they are finding on posters around campus or on cards that they are given by members of the Freshman Studies and Student Affairs.
Why Digital Badges?
This initiative is based on the Mozilla Open Badge Project and inspired by the call for proposals for the 4th annual Digital Media and Learning Competition funded by the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla for the creation of badge programs to support lifelong learning. In this context, a badge is defined as “a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest that can be earned in [these] learning environments.” Badges can be applicable to both formal and informal learning environments including K-12 settings, college classrooms, workshops, game play, and many other contexts (online and face-to-face). For more about digital badges read here: http://www.macfound.org/media/files/BadgesforLifelongLearning_Info.pdf.
Badges at SHU!
On June 13th Tom McGee, Danielle Mirliss and Michael Soupios presented on the work done to date at the 2012 New Media Consortium Summer Conference held in Boston. The session began with a description of the various point systems that are available to students at Seton Hall (e.g. priority points, compass events, etc.) and the hope that the badge program would become an umbrella for these various programs. In addition, as the badge program matures it has the potential to award members of the Seton Hall community with badges that signify completion of larger programs such as the completion of Technology Skills courses (self-paced courses available to students to enhance technology competencies). As part of the project background, the presenters explained the importance of engagement with the campus as an indicator of student retention. Some retention metrics are not easily obtained and the badge program promises to be one venue that is fun and motivating to engage students at risk for attrition. Below is a diagram of the “Pillars of Retention” (note that engagement is included in the gold hexagon):
The second part of the session explained how members of Student Affairs and the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center have identified opportunities to earn badges for incoming Freshman including a web scavenger hunt, Freshman Preview, On Campus Adventure, summer programs (e.g. summer reading requirement) and Welcome Week. The badges are easy to obtain and do not yet “level up” as the campus creates a culture of use and learns more about their use and introduction to the students. In addition, a leader board is available to students but they actively opt in to participate.
The presentation concluded with a technical description of SHU’s digital badge system. Topics included protecting the privacy of students, various roles that the system recognizes and badge management. Badges can be earned by simply scanning a QR code but can also be awarded through a card swipe system or collecting information about the awardee that can be inputted at a later time. In order to control cheating the system, badges can also be made available for only a specified period of time (e.g. attending a campus or sporting events). Finally, the awardee has the option to “bake” the badge so that it can be displayed on his or her digital backpack. For more information visit the Pirate Patch Blog and view the presentation below:
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