Monday, January 21, 2013

Using Badges in the Classroom

Since the start of the new calendar year I have been experimenting with using badges in the classroom to acknowledge student achievement. I have long been intrigued by badges as a way to codify accomplishments that might not otherwise appear on a student report card. In addition, I see badges as a way to personalized goal setting with students and help students at all levels continue to improve and achieve.

At first I looked at Edmodo as the mechanism for awarding badges. This seemed like a natural first step since we use Edmodo extensively with our 6th-8th graders in our iPad 1:1 environment. However, using Edmodo for this was awkward and clunky. Coincidentally, before Christmas I was pointed to a new service called ClassBadges. As I worked with this site I became much more comfortable with using this with students.

 ClassBadges has a simple account set up and allows me to create as many badges as I want, complete with descriptions. There are also many pre-created images for badges, so it is easy for me to find icons which fit for awards. Here are some examples of badges I have created:

As I have worked with ClassBadges, here are some successes, questions, and considerations I have encountered:

  • I would love for ClassBadges have the capability to set up parent codes, similar to what is available in Edmodo, to share student accomplishments with parents.
  • The ClassBadges interface is clean and usable, which makes creating and awarding badges quick and easy.
  • It would be great if ClassBadges provided the tools for teachers to create and share their own badge designs. Apparently this feature is planned but not yet rolled out.
  • I created several initial badges but allow students to suggest badges they would like to see. This has proven to be an excellent motivator for students who regularly contact me with badge ideas.
  • Right now I have no set standard for the awarding of badges. The only requirement I have is that I must have confidence that students are able to replicate the skill each time they submit work. I will not award a badge unless I believe that students are doing this.
  • Students must request badges from me and point to the work which shows mastery of the skill.
  • As of now, I have no scheme for including badge awards as part of a formal grade. These badges are for use for understanding student improvement when speaking with parents and colleagues. However, I am open to using them for more formal assessments as we grow with the program.
  • I likely have a lot of communication work to do with parents to help them better understand the purpose of the badges and how these help mark specific achievements of their students. This process is in its infancy.
  • The analyzing of work and awarding of badges is a time-consuming process. It is also mentally challenging. However, it also helps me better know the academic strengths and weaknesses of my students than ever before.
  • Badges work well when flipping the classrooms since there is more time to personally monitor student work.
Have you attempted to used badges for education? If so, share your experiences as a comment to this post.

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