I think we’ve got to be 50% or more through the semester now. Seems like that should be the case. Anyways, at this point I’ve had the opportunity to think about what I would do differently in regards to how I have structured quests and the opportunity to earn badges. Let’s start with badges.
How I Bombed Out With Badges
Ok….maybe I am being hard on myself here when I said that I bombed out with badges, but let’s just say the whole badge thing got canned within a month for both classes. I think only two students supported the idea of badges when I asked.
Initially, I created a system where you could, if you wanted to, gain more badges (by demonstrating specific competencies). I found keeping up with things to be a fair amount of work. It was doable, but still a lot of work on my part. But I started to get the feeling that most students didn’t care about the badges. Don’t ask me why or how I got to that place. I just did. So I asked both classes if having badges was important to them. Most people didn’t respond.
Badges were not tied to grades so to speak. Students earn XP which eventually gets them to badges, but I can take away badges without any impact to XP or overall grades. Since most people did not seem to care, I wasn’t really sure why I should care and force it on everyone. So I withdrew them.
I Don’t Know Why the Badges Failed
I didn’t ask anyone why they were or were not into badges. From my standpoint, a badge is something you can use to demonstrate learning and professional development. Instead of saying, “I took X course and received X grade” to a principal, a student could say, “I took X course. Part of this course required me to blog. I have a badge saying I am a Level 3 Blogger. This means that I am capable of doing ABC…”
However, I don’t think there was ever any real value placed on the badges. I see the value. I don’t know if my students see the value. I would be surprised if their school administrators saw the value. Let’s be honest, badges and competency-based education are not mainstream for most people. At the end of the day, I am guessing what most students care about is their grade and less so the badge.
We Need the Badges
Having said all this, I think future classes need to go back to having badges, but in a way that makes less work for me. I think badges have value because they have the opportunity to say something about you as a learner and what your areas of knowledge and expertise are in.
That being said, I think I need to adjust how I do quests to make the whole badge thing easier to do for us all.
Let’s start with the free-for-all approach I have taken. Most students have opted to chart their own course for their XP/grade. I am fine with this. It has it’s issues (future post!), but I think, ultimately, it needs to stay. But here’s how to make it better:
- Instead of asking people to select a path of either navigator (free for all) or traditional (i map it for you), everyone automatically goes into navigator
- within navigator, you select up to three paths (i’m making this up as i write this; i don’t claim that three is a good number; go with the larger point that a student makes a commitment)
- you must select one path that you wish to specialize/become an expert in. going back to this post, you could choose to work your way towards Master Blogger.
- in the other paths, you might not elect to go all the way to a master level, and that would be ok
I like this approach of asking students to gain mastery on at least one path (or quest) because it has the potential to alleviate some issues I am seeing – which is largely students hoping all over the place grabbing XP. My set-up made it possible for this to happen, and I take responsibility for that. But I see the limitation in that no one is going super deep on anything in either class, and I think there is value to going super deep in at least one area.
I’ll be revamping this approach in the future, and I’ll share the changes I make. I do plan to game one of my spring courses, but it is an undergraduate course and I am not sure what I want to do with it in terms of the gaming. We’ll know soon enough.