Here at Youtopia, we’re pretty pumped up about badges. Since being selected as a winner in the Digital Media and Learning Competition, we’ve been working for almost a year with Mozilla Foundation and the badging community to define how badges can be used for the greater good. Here are the 5 things you need to know to get badging.
1. What is a badge?
We’re glad you asked. A badge is a visual validation of achievement that indicates a person’s knowledge, skill, or accomplishment.
Badges are used to…
- Signify successes, establish goals, and foster positive learning and working habits.
- Reward hard skills like completing a project, mastering a concept, or a high performance assessment, and to affirm soft skills like collaboration, respect, and leadership.
- Credit completion of a course, or acknowledge commitment in more granular tasks like attendance, timeliness, and participation.
Think of badges as a way to recognize a person’s multifaceted abilities. Badges allow students to provide a more comprehensive developmental narrative to share with peers, parents, teachers and potential schools or employers. Pretty cool, huh?
2. Why are badges so awesome?
Because badges reflect how awesome you are. We’re learning all the time, yet often fail to recognize it. Badges bring together what students of all ages learn through school, extracurriculars, informal channels, and at home, to make those skills transparent for everyone.
With a properly implemented badge system you will…
- Create pathways of learning for students to see what they’ve achieved, future opportunities, and what competencies they need to get there.
- Keep all of your students engaged and motivated with varied levels of challenge, and rewards for innovation.
- Be able to manage the way you teach all of the skills, knowledge, and positive behaviors your students need to succeed.
You’re probably thinking, “Badges are amazing. Who needs pizza parties when you’ve got badges?” Well, everyone needs pizza parties – but you can think of each badge as a pizza party for your brain.
3. How can I put badges to work?
Now that you know all about badges (a.k.a. brain parties), the possibilities are endless. Badges are flexible, so you can use them to boost anything you want.
Here are some examples:
- Academics - Entire courses: History, Units: The Civil War, Projects: Research Paper, Tasks: Daily Notes, Attendance, Participation
- PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) – Leadership, Collaboration, Respect, Concentration
- Extracurriculars – Student Council, Chess Club, Yearbook
- Service Learning – Civic Engagement and Volunteering
- Arts – Drama Club, Band, Dance Team
- Athletics – Soccer, Basketball, Bowling (Most importantly)
- Events – Science Fair, Clothing Drive, Fall Fundraiser
4. How do I design my badge system for best results?
Chances are, you’ve already done most of the work when you designed your curriculum. Now you’re just going to take that proven rubric and badgify it.
Here are some pro tips to consider:
- Distill your learning goals into significant milestones, then highlight your learning pathway with badges to reward progress and completion.
- Decide what to evaluate (e.g. artifact creation, skill development, participation, goal achievement, reflection) and how you can recognize multiple aspects of learning.
- Motivate your students by creating incentives unique to them – whether they’re real rewards, unlocked privileges or bonuses, winning, or (our favorite) a pizza party.
- Levels of badges demonstrate a student’s current competency (Service Helper – 20 hours) and where they’re headed (Service Ally – 60 hours).
- Use granular badges (Research Paper Badge, Note Taker Badge, Participation Badge) as stepping stones on the path to high achievement badges (Civil War Hero Badge).
- Remember that badges are only as valuable as the achievements they represent – so reserve them for when your students really deserve them.
5. How do I build my badge system with Youtopia?
Use your class rubric and the principles above to complete the following steps…
- Create your Challenge – Name it the subject of your class (History), title of your unit (The Civil War) or project (Research Paper).
- Add your Activities using the aspects of your course you will be evaluating (Take Notes, Participate, Bibliography, Rough Draft, Final Paper).
- Assign point values (1 point for every day they take notes or participate, 5 points for a bibliography, 15 points for a rough draft, 20 points for a final paper).
- Create your Badges
- Enter a name and description for the badge.
- Select a badge from one of our lovingly designed icons, or upload your own custom icon.
- Choose to award the badge based on the number of times they complete a task (Took notes 10 times), the number of points they earned in the challenge (Earned 50 points), first, second or third place, a goal reached, or as you see fit.
- Get badging! High five!
As always, our team is here to help you get going and support you every step of the way. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, or want to talk through how badging can optimize the work you’re doing. We can’t wait to see how you start to badge.