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Digital Badges & Reward Systems

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Michelle Hake

on 24 November 2014

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Transcript of Digital Badges & Reward Systems

Badges in the Classroom
Badging within the classroom has the potential to be an effective learning tool (Ash, 2012), and can assist an instructor in the accomplishment of these purposes:

Student Benefits
In addition to motivating students to develop specific skills and competencies, both individually and collectively (Carey, 2012), badges offer the following benefits to students:

What is a Digital Badge and Reward System?
Managing Behavior with a Digital Reward System
Are digital badges and reward systems an effective tool to motivate students and improve student behavior and performance?
Digital Badges & Reward Systems

Kinds of Badges

This kind of badge is the “scratch and sniff sticker” of the digital age. It is given easily and freely in the hopes that it’ll cheer up students and motivate them in the future. These badges are easy to get, nice to receive, and are mostly offered in an attempt to make education more fun. Teachers give them to students to make them feel special and happy, all in the hopes that, in some small way, it will motivate them to like school and try their best. These types of badges do not correspond to particular learning outcomes. This is not to say this type of badge is “useless,” but it should not be confused with a true measure of what a student knows and can do. (Curran 2014)

A "digital badge" is an online representation of a skill or achievement that a student has earned. Digital badges and reward systems allow teachers to award students for accomplishments, good behavior, and achievements. Put simply, digital badges are online summaries of the knowledge and skills acquired through courses, projects, or other activities. (Ross, 2014) When used in social media, badges may simply mean, “I was present.” In online gaming, badges may indicate a specific game level or an earned tool or privilege. For educators, however, digital badges acknowledge that an earner has demonstrated declarative knowledge or skill in a content area as well as intellectual, social, or behavioral growth. (Fontichiaro, 2013)

The results of my survey showed that the only digital reward system that teachers have used in their classroom is ClassDojo.
Survey Results
87% of teachers have never used a digital badge and/or reward system in their classroom
14% of teachers said "yes" to trying out a digital badge and/or reward system in the future. 63% said "maybe" and 14% said "I don't know."
Overall, the concerns that most teachers have in regards to the implementation of digital badges and reward systems in the classroom are:
"It might take too long to implement," "not all students have access to computers," "it would require a lot of teacher management," "following through with awarding badges," "making it fair for all," "don't know enough about it," "need to learn more about it."
A study conducted in a third grade classroom (Pound, 2013) showed that ClassDojo has a positive effect on student behaviors. There was a strong increase in positive behaviors when the ClassDojo system was present as compared to the baseline time of clipboard and teacher verbal reinforcement.
The Digital “Scratch & Sniff” Sticker
The Competency-Aligned Badge

As schools adopt outcomes and competencies as the measures of student success, there’s an opportunity to use badges as a way to clearly communicate what’s expected of students and when they’ve achieved mastery. Unlike the “scratch and sniff” badge that can be earned for teacher-pleasing behaviors, these badges stand for an authentic milestone a student achieves on their way through their education. The motivation for issuing this type of badge is to show students how far they have come and how far there is still yet to go. This kind of badge can certify student learning in the same way that a diploma does now. It communicates that “according to this badge issuer, the student has successfully completed everything we think they need to do to demonstrate mastery.” (Curran, 2014)

Deepen student learning
Drive the content
Reward students for their engagement and participation
Foster a collaborative learning environment
Increase student interaction, student recognition, and student contribution
Encourage student competition with one another to earn badges through a cooperative and encouraging manner; and
Provide students with immediate feedback, which students desire from both their instructors and their peers (Centage Learning, 2014)
Enhance a resume, portfolio, or e-Portfolio by providing evidence of a completed task and knowledge gained through the completion of that task;
Focus learning on specific goals, which can lead to improved quality of work as students revise and resubmit their work through an open badging system;
Foster deeper learning of course material, as the badges are content driven, specific to the course goals and content;
Create practical ways for students to learn in the classroom, and to share what they have learned in a public forum if they so choose, such as through Mozilla’s open badging platform, or through a class blog, class website, class wiki, or another social networking tool; and
Add an element of fun to the classroom as students are encouraged to compete against their classmates in a cooperative and non-threatening way.

Survey Results
96% of teachers think it is "extremely important" to have an effective behavior management plan in place in the classroom.
96% of surveyed teachers feel it is "extremely important" for students to be motivated to learn.
96% of teachers feel that "positive praise" and "positive teacher role-models" motivate good behavior and student achievement in school.
23 teachers completed my survey regarding their experiences and opinions on Digital Badges and Reward Systems. The following information illustrates these survey results.
Student Survey Results
I surveyed 10 second grade students (6 boys 4 girls). Last year, these students were in a first grade classroom that used ClassDojo as a whole class behavior management system. This year, their teacher is using a "sticker chart." Students earn a sticker for "good behavior." When their sticker chart is full, they get a prize from the prize box. The following are the results from my student survey.
100% of students earn rewards in school
100% of students "like" earning rewards
100% of students said that earning rewards makes them want to try their best in school
Reasons students earn these rewards:
"For being good," "when we do good things," "being nice," "when it's my birthday," "when I fill my sticker chart," "if we have a good day," "when you don't be bad and yell at people"
90% of students like the ClassDojo behavior management system better than the traditional "sticker chart" because....
"I like to change my avatar," "I like seeing my avatar on the Eno board," "the teacher would look at you and you get a point," "sometimes if we get higher than 100
points, we get a prize"
Pound, Kaitlyn. 2013. "Technology Support for Student Behavioral Development." The Eagle Feather 10.
Fontichiaro, Kristin, and Angela Elkordy. "From Stars to Constellations: Digital Badges Can Chart Growth." Learning & Leading with Technology December/January (2013-14): 12-15. Print
Ross, Leigh. "Digital Badges: What They Are and Why Funders Should Pay Attention (Part 1)." Philanthropy New York. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
Ash, Katie. "'Digital Badges' Would Represent Students' Skill Acquisition." Education Week Digital Directions. N.p., 13 June 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
Carey, Kevin. "A Future Full of Badges." The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 8 Apr. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
Curran, Ted. "How Open Badges Can Promote Student Motivation." Ted Curran.Net. N.p., 6 June 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.
Grant, Sheryl. "Badges: Show What You Know." Young Adult Library Services Winter (2014): 28-32. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
Paper, Market Insight. "Transitioning to a More Digitally Focused Course Experience." Cengage Learning (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Jenkin says that "Gamification is a system which does not trust the power of intrinsic motivation and feels the need to add a layer of extrinsic motivation." "Some forms of gamification rely so heavily on points schemes that there is far less effort to make the activities meaningful in and of themselves."
When we create so many extrinsic rewards, we risk losing the ability, in other words, to learn just for the joy and internal satisfaction of learning. Skeptics of the badge system have pointed to research that shows extrinsic motivation, or giving out rewards, for activities students would already be completing for their personal benefit reduces their overall motivation to take part in these activities.
Skeptics see badges as another example of too many “treats” in exchange for learning. Henry Jenkins, Provost’s professor of communication, journalism, and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, views the badges system as just another step toward the “gamification” of education.
Sheryl Grant, the director of social networking for the Digital Media and Learning Competition, admits that the education community still has a lot to learn about badging for K-12 students. She says, "there are things we just don't know yet about how badging is going to impact the schools."
(Herron, 2012)
Herron, Kelsey. "The Great Digital Badges Debate." Reviews & Age Ratings. N.p., 14 June 2012. Web.
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