MOOC Digital Badge Research Published in Educause

Ambrose, G. Alex, Anthony, Elizabeth, & Clark, G. Chris (2016) “Digital Badging in the MOOC Space” Educause Review. http://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/11/digital-badging-in-the-mooc-space

Key Takeaways
*Over the past year, the University of Notre Dame’s Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning and the Office of Digital Learning designed five different Credly Open Badges across three edX MOOCs and issued them to 233 learners around the globe.
*Each MOOC for which the team piloted badges had different goals and requirements for awarding badges, and each pilot taught the team different lessons about the badges’ value to students.
*Analysis of the data gathered for each pilot helped the team settle on recommendations for future use of badges in MOOCs.

What Alaa Taught us about Open Learning Evidence (in a MOOC with a Digital Portfolio & Badge)

Let me introduce you to Alaa. Alaa is a Syrian Architecture student at Damascus University. Last month she completed a Notre Dame Architecture edX Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called The Meaning of Rome: The Renaissance and Baroque City.

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

This wasn’t your typical MOOC that culminated in a verified certificate (at cost). Notre Dame faculty, Office of Digital Learning course designers, and the Center for Teaching & Learning researchers designed this MOOC with an optional performance/project-based capstone challenge that gave students (who passed the edX course with a 70% or higher) the opportunity to build an ePortfolio that demonstrated skills and knowledge from the course. In essence, they offered a free opportunity for students to showcase their learning in a public, dynamic way. This was far more than your run of the mill watch videos and take a multiple choice quiz for a MOOC certificate. (To see the resource and the documentation website with the ePortfolio project description and details on how to get started–including a template–click here.) The campus ePortfolio group worked with engineers from Academic Technologies and Digication (our campus vendor) to build a first-in-kind seamless integration into the edX platform, giving all MOOC learners a free ePortfolio account that was connected to their edX profile. The MOOC learners then submitted their ePortfolios for Faculty & TA review through Digication’s back-end Assessment Management System. A rubric was used to evaluate the quality of the MOOC learner’s ePortfolio.

Back to Alaa. She was one of four MOOC learners that not only completed and passed the course but also received a passing rubric score that earned her a digital badge. See the screenshot below for the completed details of the badge, description, criteria, and list of earners.

Click on image to see verified page in Credly

Click on image to see verified page in Credly

One of the first and most evident benefits of issuing badges to Credly profiles is that it begins to humanize the MOOC classmates by providing profile pics such as those seen above. Clicking deeper provides another level of significance. For example, when you click into Alaa’s pic, you can see the meta-data that is baked into and connected with the badge. Most importantly (and usually under-used) is the “evidence” field.

Click on image for a link to the verified page on Credly

Click on image for a link to the verified page on Credly

When you click on Alaa’s evidence link it takes you to her public ePortfolio, which can viewed here. I encourage you to click around to see her evidence of what she gained from the MOOC. Below you will find some of my favorite snippets of her pictures, drawings, videos, and reflections.

Click on image for a zoomed in view

Click on image for a zoomed in view

While her country is being torn apart through a civil war from ISIS, Alaa states that she wants “to bring attention” to her ancient city. This is the potential of open evidence. The ePortfolio and the open badge empowered this young Syrian woman to use Notre Dame’s free Massive Open Online Course to demonstrate her interest in and competency with architectural analysis–using her city as her canvas. This is what open evidence of learning means: to be transparent, to give public visibility, to bring attention to Alaa and her skills through her city of Damascus. At the center of his is digital portfolios and badges. If paired right,they can unlock the power of evidence behind the open badge and optimize a student’s ability to collect an available body of projects and the process to make and prove a claim.

If Notre Dame didn’t offer this free Massive Open Online Course would Alaa have had this opportunity?

Could we have known or seen Alaa, her work, her story, her learning, her architectural analysis of her ancient city without the ePortfolio?

Would we have bubbled up Alaa from the thousands who enrolled in the course, hundreds who finished the course, the dozen who built an ePortfolio without the badge?

If you haven’t gotten enough here is a gallery of three more badged ePortfolios from the MOOC

Click on image for a zoomed in view

Click on image for a zoomed in view

From St. Patrick’s Cathedral (NYC), Dublin (Ireland), and Salt Lake City (UT).

Conference Presentation on Role of Digital Badges in MOOC

Citation:
Anthony, Elizabeth, Ambrose, G. Alex (2016) “Examining the Role of Digital Badges in a University’s Massive Open Online Course” Association of Authentic, Experiential, and Evidenced-based Learning (AAEEBL) Midwest Regional Conference. Notre Dame, Indiana.

Abstract:
This presentation examines the role of digital badges – an emerging alternative micro-credential – in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Math in Sports (Math) offered by the University of Notre Dame in 2016. Three badges were designed and awarded with an accompanying study.  The study addressed four research questions about the impact of digital badges on MOOC participants, the profile of digital badge pursuers, the perceptions of digital badges, and the ability digital badges have to ensure that MOOCs serve their purpose. We can draw five major conclusions from this research:
1)“MOOC participant” should only describe those who engage with MOOC content
2) MOOC passers are interested in credentials that distinguish them from other course participants
3) MOOC passers do not perceive the digital badge to be equivalent to the verified certificate
4) The majority of MOOC passers are previously-educated, adult males from the United States, but digital badges may be used to diversify the population of MOOC completers
5) MOOC participants need more information about digital badges to fully understand and appreciate their value.

With these conclusions in mind, we offer three design recommendations for badges in MOOCs: create digital badges that recognize, validate, and assess distinct and specialized knowledge or skills gained in the course; distribute more information about the value of digital badges and how to use them; and connect digital badges more directly with social networking sites, particularly LinkedIn.

About the Conference:
The Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning, in partnership with the Open Badges in Higher Education, is hosting the Association of Authentic Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) Midwest Regional Conference on Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12, 2016. Click here for more details about the conference, program, and registration.

Notre Dame Issues 151 Digital Badges in an edX MOOC

In July of 2015, the University of Notre Dame’s Office of Digital Learning & Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning successfully designed, developed, and delivered one of the earliest and largest digital badge initiatives in an edX MOOC

2016-06-17 11_21_10-I _Heart_ Stats_ Learning to Love Statistics _ edX

Click here to see the edX course “I ‘Heart'” Stats: Learning to Love Statistics”

2016-06-17 11_26_25-I Heart Stats Digital Badge • Credly

Click here to see the 151 Credly badges that were issued.

We also did a design-based research study on this project that you can read more about below.

ReAL Design Lab self published paper on db

Ambrose, G. Alex, Anthony, Elizabeth, DeJaegher, Duan, Xiaojing, Crystal, Dillon, John ( 2015) “Examining Digital Badge Impact on Learners’ Profiles, Performance & Perceptions in a Massive Open Online Course” University of Notre Dame, Research & Assessment for Learning Design Lab. 

Click on the hyperlink above to read our self-published paper. Unfortunately, this short paper was not accepted to this year’s Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference but blind review journals and conferences won’t stop us from getting this work out (thanks to self-publish blogs and Academia.edu). So in the meantime, let’s use this self-published citation for attribution.

Abstract:
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide universities with opportunities to advance educational research, improve access to education, and exhibit institutional merit. Universities worldwide have attempted to take advantage of these opportunities using various platforms (e.g., edX, Coursera) by issuing certificates of completion. The effects of digital badging as an alternative credential in MOOCs, however, have yet to be fully explored. This pilot case study examines the impact of digital badges on learners’ profiles, performance, and perceptions throughout the 8-week duration in a MOOC. A design-based research approach, learning analytics techniques, learner surveys, and observational/performance data were used to explore relationships between digital badging and MOOC passers. Preliminary findings suggest digital badging did not have an impact on MOOC course completion when compared to platform-issued certificates, but interest in a digital badge may be an indicator of commitment to the course. After better understanding the learner profile and perceptions of badge earners, design pitfalls and potential implications are shared.

 

Twitter 140 characters or less summary:
@NotreDame issues one of earliest & largest @Credly #DigitalBadge in @edX #MOOC