Friday, March 7, 2014

Assessing Student Learning Using Digital Badges

If you could hear the voices in my head, you might hear some of the following questions I ask myself about my job:

-  Are my students really taking part in deeper learning activities?

-  How can I as a teacher ensure they are really learning what I want them to learn?

-  How will I ever be able to create an assessment that will assess deeper learning in my students?

-  What can I do differently to motivate students to learn that will not involve candy!  (Yes this one has actually crossed my mind since our school has done away with using food as a motivator.  Such a shame since the cinnamon sugar bagels I used to bring in were so good!)

In all seriousness though, I worry as a teacher that I will not be able to create activities and assess deeper learning opportunities for my students.  In addition, I have seen such a decrease in motivation in recent years with my students wanting to learn new material.  I want to find ways to provide meaningful deeper learning lessons and assess their learning in a way that will determine if they truly did take part in deeper learning with a specific subject.

This week's DLMOOC and ED 722 focused on the assessing deeper learning and the use of digital badges.  I have always been intrigued by badges since I took part in the ORMS MOOC earlier in our course study for IT&DML.  Coming from a military background, badges and rewards are a huge motivator for myself.  I like the ability to proudly demonstrate a skill by wearing a piece of ribbon or medal.  When I think about my students, although they are 8th graders they still LOVE to receive stickers.  This to them is a badge that they can wear around and proudly show that they accomplished something.  In my opinion, digital badges are even better than stickers because you can virtually keep them forever and they won't fall off and end up on the bottom of a shoe.

As well as badges, I love the use of reflection to identify deeper learning with students.  Thinking back to my undergraduate education, I cannot remember one time when I was asked to reflect on what I learned.  Honestly, I think that might be a reason why I don't remember much of my undergraduate course work. That and the fact that it was over fifteen years and two careers ago!  I wish I had to reflect more back then though, because I truly feel as if I have learned more with my graduate work both from University of Saint Joseph and now with University of New Haven simply because I had to reflect on what I learned.  In addition, the ability to read other's reflections on their learning process has provided me with more insight on topics and course work.

I created a Storify this week on assessing deeper learning: Storify - Assessing Deeper Learning with Reflection and Badges.  My focus was on the use of reflection and digital badges.  Once I complete my 6th year this summer, I plan on trying to implement a digital badge program at my school.  Depending on which classes I teach next year, I will either integrate it into my math class or design an after school program that involves the use of badges.  I think my students would love to take part in a learning process where they can earn badges that would demonstrate what they learned in a course.

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