Posts tagged engagement
While I’ve been working at City I’ve also been studying on the MA in Academic Practice (MAAP) programme run by the Learning Development Centre and I am now on the final ‘dissertation’ module. I wasn’t looking forward to writing another dissertation and thankfully there is a publication option that requires a conference presentation and published paper instead, and, having chosen this route, I decided to look at an area that has attracted some interest recently but that I hadn’t had a reason to investigate – Gamification in Education. I have just received confirmation of my paper being accepted for presentation, and thought it was a good excuse to put something up on this blog about it.
Over the next few months, Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences) and I will be investigating the possible uses of OpenBadges at City. OpenBadges are based on the same idea as the ones awarded to Scouts: they are a visual recognition that a person has mastered a particular skill. Skills acquisition is a very important part of learning, but formal qualifications often mask these in favour of examination results, so we want to look at whether there would be benefits in introducing a badges-based mechanism to enable students to show their skills and competencies, in addition to their grades. This project is being supported by the Learning Development Centre as one of their Learning Development Projects for 2012/13, and would be interested in hearing from City staff and students who want to give us their views.
OpenBadges been developed by the Mozilla Foundation (makers of the Firefox web browser among other things) specifically with education in mind, and so have security and verification features built into them which mean that it very difficult for a student to fake their award. They can also be set to expire automatically, so could be used for other purposes such as limited-time authorisations.
Skills are acquired in all disciplines, some of them common to most, such as academic writing, and others specific to particular ones. The following is a list of example skills that badges could be used to expose and ‘certify’, and how they might benefit students and staff:
- A nursing student is required to learn particular clinical skills, but on completion of the module the specifics skills learned become clouded by the grade for the assessments. With badges, it would be possible for the student to build a public profile that showcases the specific skills he acquired during the module.
- A mechanical engineering student needs to have undertaken general safety training and a specific training session prior to being able to use a particular piece of equipment, and needs a refresher every year. With badges, it becomes possible to check whether a student has completed the necessary training before allowing them on the equipment. The badges would automatically expire each year and so the badges would always be current.
- Two computing students are on the same programme. One takes elective modules in advanced programming and the other takes electives on systems analysis. On completion of their modules the students are awarded badges that highlight their chosen specialism.
- A student is elected president of one of the student union societies. On completion of her term of office she is awarded a badge to ‘certify’ this fact.
- A supervisor uses badges to help identify whether a particular student has the necessary skills to undertake a proposed final project.
One institution that has already implemented a badge-based recognition system is Purdue University in the US. There, students can earn badges and then produce profiles which show of different combinations of them, so that employers can see the ones that are relevant to them.
There is growing interest in the use of badges to recognise informal learning and skills acquisition, and this project should allow City to make an informed decision about whether they are right for us. So please add any comments you may have below.
Last week I went to the Science Museum to take a look at their recent Augmented Reality ‘tour’. This received a reasonably high-profile launch in the spring, mainly due to the ‘tour guide’ being Top Gear’s James May. It was a very underwhelming experience, though.
The Good bits
The technology is actually quite good and allows the user to view the ‘augmentation’ from 360 degrees, i.e. if you go behind the projected James May, you’ll see his back. This is impressive and could be useful in many disciplines, especially Engineering and Health, where it would allow artifacts to be viewed from any angle. For example, placing a virtual engine into a real engine bay and seeing where it sticks out or would interrupt aerodynamic performance from any angle, or seeing whether an artificial organ would come into contact with any other organs in the body.
The main selling point is that James May is the ‘guide’. This is great if you like James May and his presenting style – personally I find him and his strange cadence and emphases to be Jeremy Clarkson-lite, so this isn’t a selling point for me.
That’s all the good bits!
The Bad bits More >
Another interesting resource I’ve found out about at the Ed-Media conference.
SNAPP is used to generate Network Maps/Graphs showing who has posted to a Moodle forum, who has replied to whom, number of posts, etc. It is an interesting way to see the engagement of students in forums and identify the proactive and reactive students.
The tool is free and more information is available at http://www.snappvis.org/
A few months ago I co-hosted a workshop on strategies used here at City to encourage staff to engage with learning technology. It was quite successful and produced a list of strategies employed across the university which were all added to a filterable database that it is intended to expand with more materials such as case studies, observations, etc. My co-host, Farzana Latif from the School of Health Sciences, will be using this tool on Wednesday as part of her presentation on the topic of Continuous Engagement at MoodleMoot in Dublin.
I think she is intending to get delegates to investigate the list of strategies and provide comments and additions that we can add to the system. If you want to take a look at the tool it is here, but be aware that it was a very informal brainstorming session and there are some joke suggestions on the list.