BCopenEd, Open UBC

Lots of Great Open Education Workshops at ETUG in June

I can’t believe how many great open education workshops are happening in the lower BC mainland in the next month. In addition to the stuff happening on my own campus, the ETUG Spring Workshop takes place on June 12-13th and there are lots of amazing open ed sessions listed on the agenda.

ETUG is the BC Educational Technology Users Group, which is a grassroots community of BC educators that are interested in teaching, learning and ed tech in higher ed. Some of  the open education themed sessions that I’m looking forward to include:

Plus, there will be a poster session, 3D printer demo, and, most importantly, a pub night. There’s also nice parallel thread in both the ETUG Workshop and the CTLT Institute on a “do it yourself” approach (something, for example, that can be seen in the ETUG Keynote by Jentery Sayers on maker cultures or in the CTLT VideoCamp).

BCopenEd, Open UBC

Open Education Related Events at the CTLT Institute

Every spring, the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology hosts the CTLT Institute, a series of workshops that share practice and research around teaching, learning and educational technologies. This year, the CTLT Institute takes place from June 3-10, and features 27 workshops led by 44 facilitators from 36 UBC departments and four universities. A number of these workshop are organized around the theme of “opening pedagogies” and relate to different aspects of open education. There are some really amazing speakers and interesting sessions planned, including:

Open Badges, Flexible Pedagogies
Jun 4, 2014, 1:15pm – 2:15pm
Irving K Barber Learning Centre – Fraser River Room 2.27

An open badge is a digital symbol that signifies concrete evidence of accomplishments, skills, qualities, or participation in experiences. It can provide a visual record of a learner’s achievement and development combined with the required proof. Furthermore, instructors and instructional designers can use educational badges to influence engagement and learning through the provision of focused goals, tasks, and affirmation of performance. This interactive session will explore open badges and how they may be used in higher educations. It will also be used to help inform the development of a Flexible Learning-TLEF funded project that will be developing a badge infrastructure and framework at UBC.

Teaching and Learning in the Open: Why/Not?
Jun 5, 2014, 1:15pm – 3:45pm
Irving K Barber Learning Centre – Fraser River Room 2.27

Open education has been much in the news lately in the form of Massive, Open, Online Courses (MOOCs). But there are numerous ways to engage in “open education,” some of them lost in the MOOC-hype of late. In this session we will discuss several ways in which one might make one’s courses more open, ranging from putting course materials online with a license allowing them to be revised and reused, to assigning open texts (those that are free to use, reuse and revise), to inviting people outside the university to participate in one’s on-campus course in limited ways (without making the course into a MOOC). We will also engage in a discussion of the possible upsides and downsides of doing any of these things.

VideoCamp: Let’s Make Some Videos!
Jun 6, 2014, 1:15pm – 4:00pm
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre – Seminar Room 2.22A/B

VideoCamp is an informal, three-part participatory workshop focused on building skills and community for “do It yourself” (DIY) style media creation at UBC. We’ll strap on our hiking boots and backpacks and set out together to explore the ins-and-outs of creating effective educational videos. Come share your own projects and ideas as we take a hands-on look at principals, techniques, and best practices for self-created media. Inspire and be inspired as we play with different tools and look at some available resources for creating videos without large budgets.

Student as Producers: Enhancing Student Learning Through Meaningful Participation
Jun 9, 2014, 1:15pm – 3:45pm
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre – Seminar Room 2.22A/B

The student as producer pedagogical model emphasizes the role of the student as collaborators in the production of knowledge. In this model, the university’s approaches to learning and research are closer aligned; for example, students, similar to researchers, are asked to share their work with others and not only with their immediate instructor or advisor. This session will examine both how educators and technologies can support learners’ in their role as active participants in their learning. We will hear from educators and academic leaders at the University of British Columbia and Vanderbilt University.

Be sure to check out the full listing for more information, including speaker bios. Registration for these events are free.

BCopenEd, Creative Commons, presentation, Student as Producer

The Media & The Message (Slides)

“What we are teaching and the tools we are teaching it with are in dialogue; how we teach can be an example of what we teach.” – Jon Festinger

I recently had the opportunity to give a talk for the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer‘s Communications and Media Articulation Committee (CAMAC). When I was invited, I was given the rather non-specific topic of online education, copyright, and technology – which, to be honest, delighted me as these three areas are often the holy trifecta of open education. The general thread of my presentation was that:

  • The future of education is not about information transmission but about scaffolding learning and knowledge building around information
  • Open licenses (such as Creative Commons) provide a simple solution in contrast to the complexity involved in aspects of copyright
  • Open education resource (OER) adoption and creation provide for the ability to build and improve the scaffolding of learning
  • Open approaches are highly effective methods for enabling this learning
  • The alignment of the student as owner of their learning and as collaborators in knowledge creation (e.g. the Student as Producer Model) is dependent on open approaches and open licenses
  • Open technologies and an alignment with the open internet are necessary to enable effective use of both OER and open pedagogies

Most of this I’ve talked about before but enjoyed compiling some independent aspects into a single talk. Here are the slides from the presentation:

BCopenEd, UBC Wiki

Why University Wikis Need Open Licenses

Unlike traditional scholarly publishing, a defining characteristic of the wiki model is a lack of barriers between the role of reader and that of editor; users are usually free to move back and forth between the roles at will. Due to this collaborative nature, the question of reuse of wiki content can be more complicated than it is for non-collaborative platforms. The author or creator of a work is generally considered to be the owner of that document’s copyright. However, the inherent ability for any wiki user to modify or expand upon another editor’s work makes it difficult to apply individual authorship or ownership to wiki-based content.

Content on collaborative wikis can thus be considered to be works of joint authorship of all the editors who collaboratively edited and compiled that page. The issue of joint authorship is particularly important around republishing; As Black et al state (pdf), republishing content becomes a community matter as one wiki editor cannot grant republishing or reuse permission without the express permission of the other editors (2007).

A community-based level of permission for reuse can be easily granted and expressed through the use of an open content license, such as a Creative Commons license, that allows for modification and reuse. Individual users would agree (such as through a terms of use), that any content they contribute is done so under the wiki’s open license thus allowing for basic wiki functionality of community editing and reuse. Black et al (2007) further state that for wikis where there is no explict copyright license:

It may be argued that due to the inherent nature of a wiki as a fully editable website that allows any user to read and add content to that state, a license that allows for these basic functions must be implied as a matter of necessity (p. 254).

An open content license thus should be seen as a best practice for the core functionality of university-based wikis: republishing jointly-authored works. Due to their collaborative nature and purpose, most educational and non-commercial wikis do specify an open documentation license that allows their wiki content to be republished, reused, and modified. For example, academic wikis which specify Creative Commons licenses include the Thompson Rivers University Wiki, the University of Calgary Wiki, the CUNY Academic Commons Wiki and many more.

BCopenEd, Open Badges

Digital Badges in Education: a quick overview

Note: about a year ago Zack, myself, and a few other colleagues were asked to write a short, basic internal summary about badges in higher education. I realized that none of us had ever put it online. So here it is.

What is a Badge?

A badge is a digital symbol that signifies concrete evidence of accomplishments, skills, qualities, or participation in experiences (Educause, 2012).  A digital badge typically consists of both a graphical icon and metadata about who earned the badge, the criteria for earning the badge, when it was issued, and who issued it. Thus a digital badge can provide a visual record of a learner’s achievement and development combined with the required proof (Glover, 2013).  Furthermore, instructors and instructional designers can use educational badges to influence engagement and learning through the provision of focused goals, tasks, and affirmation of performance (Abramovich, Schunn, & Mitsuo, 2013).

Once earned, the learner can display the badge to let others know of their skills mastery or learning accomplishments.  In an “open badge” framework, learners accomplish this by adding the badge they’ve earned from different issuers to a “backpack”, which Glover describes (PDF) as an ePortfolio-type space where learners have control over how their badges are displayed and to whom.  For example, learners can create custom groupings of their earned badges for sharing with different groups, such as different clusters for different employers related to the specific skills required or a different cluster for friends who share a particular hobby (2013).

The open educational badge movement is being lead by the Mozilla Foundation who is developing the interoperability technical and metadata standards needed to provide badge compatibility across different institutions, programs, and web platforms. Without a common badge infrastructure, badges would exist in silos, leaving little user control over how or where they may be issued and displayed. Instead, the Mozilla badge infrastructure enables learners to tie badges to their identity, to display their badges only to audiences they care about; to create meaningful collections of badges from different issuers, and to set privacy controls (Mozilla, 2012). The maturing of Mozilla’s open badge infrastructure in the last year has lead to the increased growth and interest in badges.

How Does It Work?

Badges in higher education can be used as a motivational tool as well as an alternative form of credentialing. Educause (2012) provides the following pathway as a basic model:

  • An instructor or instructional course designer creates specific criteria for earning a badge.
  • A learner fulfills the specific criteria to earn the badge by attending classes, passing an exam or review, or completing other activities.
  • A grantor verifies that the specifications have been met and awards the badge, maintaining a record of it with attendant metadata.
  • The learner pushes the badge into a “backpack,” a portfolio-style server account, where this award is stored alongside badges from other grantors.
  • The learner can keep their badges private or display some or all of them on selected websites, social media tools, platforms, or networks

Furthermore, Mozilla (2012) states that educational badges are meant to be created and issued at different levels.  For example, course level badges can be used for learner motivation, feedback, and gamification within a course and can be tied to learner behaviors or achievements.  These course-level badges can provide the core or entry-level framework for acquiring skills and may be required as pre-requisites to unlock higher level badges. Institutional-level badges can then be used for certification purposes, which may be endorsed at an institutional level with more rigorous or defined assessments.  Finally, multiple badges can be aggregated into higher-level “meta badges” that represent more complex literacies or competencies (Mozilla, 2012).

Who is Doing It?

Badges are a still an emerging pedagogical and technological tool for higher education. Purdue University recently created an open badge system called Passport, which is described as a “learning system that demonstrates academic achievement through customizable badges” (Purdue, N.A.).  In describing the system, Gerry McCartney, Vice President for Information Technology at Purdue stated:

“Students learn in many ways and in a variety of settings while attending a university such as Purdue. In addition to formal lectures and homework, there is also time spent in labs and doing field work; time spent in service projects or internships; and experiences they glean from student organizations. The Passport app will give interested faculty and advisers another way to recognize and validate those skills for students. Through their college careers, students gain knowledge and skills that may not be well-represented in their college degrees. A student may have learned practical skills such as knowing how to write HTML code, have earned a prestigious scholarship or served as an officer in a student organization” (Watson, 2012).

Likewise, the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) is currently developing a badge platform for validating experiential learning within formal institutional contexts at the undergraduate level. Various other universities, such as Carnegie Mellon and Duke, are also beginning to issue badges. A more comprehensive list is of educational badge projects can be found at http://www.hastac.org/digital-badges – projects.

What Does The Research Say?

Research into the use of digital badges in higher education is preliminary and still emerging.  In a large-scale study on the use of Badges in PeerWise, an online learning tool, Denny (2013) found that badges “can act as powerful motivators in educational contexts of this kind and may be integrated with little risk into similar environments.”  However, while Abramovich, Schunn, & Mitsuo (2013) found “evidence of improvements in interest and decrease in counter-productive motivational goals from a system using educational badges”, they also state that “the design specifics of educational badges in addition to the targeted students will be the main predictors of badge influence on learning motivation. The implication for instructional designers of badges is that they must consider the ability and motivations of learners when choosing what badges to include in their curricula.”

A comprehensive, annotated bibliography for educational badges can be found here:  http://www.hastac.org/digital-badges-bibliography

How Could Badges Be Used at UBC?

A priority of UBC’s flexible learning initiative is “the creation of a flexible continuum of learning between credit and non-credit” (UBC, 2013). UBC has long embraced online learning and with the recent attention to flexible and open pedagogies, interest and awareness in providing alternative methods of motivation and credentialing has also increased.  Open, digital badges are a pedagogical and assessment tool that may be used at UBC for both motivating learners and providing alternative, pedagogical pathways.

Three models of how badges may be used at UBC include:

  • As a student motivation tool within a course. For example, UBC’s Video Game Law course has proposed that issuing badges for specific course activities may increase student engagement.  WordPress (CMS, UBC Blogs), MediaWiki (UBC Wiki), and Blackboard (Connect), have tools that could allow for badges to be used in courses.
  • As a staff and faculty professional development tool, in which faculty and staff can earn badges for teaching and learning skills they have acquired at professional development events.
  • As a tool for creating a personalized learning pathways across UBC courses and open educational resources.  For example, professional programs may want to create badges that highlight competencies earned across courses.  Additionally, developers of open educational resources may use badges as a way for life long learners to engage with their content

References & Resources

Abramovich, S., Schunn, C., & Ross Mitsuo, H. (2013). Are badges useful in education?: it depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner – Springer. Educational Technology Research and Development. doi:10.1007/s11423-013-9289-2

Antin, J., & Churchill, E. F. (2011). Badges in social media: A social psychological perspective. CHI 2011, 1–4. Retrieved from http://gamification-research.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/03-Antin-Churchill.pdf

Cheng, R., & Vassileva, J. (2006). Design and evaluation of an adaptive incentive mechanism for sustained educational online communities. User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction16(3-4), 321–348. doi:10.1007/s11257-006-9013-6

Denny, P. (2013). The effect of virtual achievements on student engagement. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 763–772). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/2470654.2470763

EDUCAUSE. (2012). ELI 7 Things you should know about badges.  Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-badges

Glover, I. (2013). Open Badges: A Visual Method of Recognising Achievement and Increasing Learner Motivation. Student Engagement and Experience Journal2(1). doi:10.7190/seej.v1i1.66

Goligoski, E. (2012). Motivating the Learner: Mozilla’s Open Badges Program. Access to Knowledge: A Course Journal4(1). Retrieved fromhttp://ojs.stanford.edu/ojs/index.php/a2k/article/view/381

Grant, S. & Shawgo, K.E. (2013). Digital Badges: An Annotated Research Bibliography. Retrieved from http://hastac.org/digital-badges-bibliography

Halavais, A. M. C. (2012). A Genealogy of Badges. Information, Communication & Society,15(3), 354–373. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2011.641992

HASTAC. (2013).  Project Q&A With: The SA&FS Learner Driven Badges Project Retrieved from http://www.hastac.org/dml-badges/SA%2526FS-Learner-Driven-Badges-Project

Ledesma, P. (2011, July 10). Can Badges Offer Viable Alternatives to Standardized Tests for School Evaluation? Education Week – Leading From the Classroom. Retrieved August 14, 2013, fromhttp://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/leading_from_the_classroom/2011/07/can_badges_offer_viable_alternatives_to_standardized_tests_for_school_evaluation.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Montola, M., Nummenmaa, T., Lucero, A., Boberg, M., & Korhonen, H. (2009). Applying game achievement systems to enhance user experience in a photo sharing service. In Proceedings of the 13th International MindTrek Conference: Everyday Life in the Ubiquitous Era (pp. 94–97). New York, NY, USA: ACM.

Purdue (n.a.) Passport: Show What You Know.  Retrieved from http://www.itap.purdue.edu/studio//passport/

The Mozilla Foundation , a Peer 2 Peer University, & The MacArthur Foundation. (2012 8–27). Open Badges for Lifelong Learning. Retrieved from https://wiki.mozilla.org/File:OpenBadges-Working-Paper_012312.pdf

The Mozilla Foundation. (2012).  Badges, FAQs. Retrieved from https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges/FAQs

UBC (2013).  Flexible Learning Priorities.  Retrieved from http://flexible.learning.ubc.ca/what-is-flexible-learning/flexible-learning-priorities/

Young, J. R. (2012, January 8). “Badges” Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Badges-Earned-Online-Pose/130241/

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