:sync: Designing and Implementing Digital Open Badges for Success

Author: Dr. Wayne Gibbons
Institution: Galway Mayo IT
Country: Ireland

Topic: Technologies for Open Education
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Building capacity
Session Format: Presentation


This presentation focuses on the findings and implication of a recent doctoral study titled 'The role, implementation and impact of digital open badges on a civil engineering degree'. The result is of interest to any party considering how to design an open badge scheme, and the type of impact that can have. The abstract from the thesis is shown below:

The Civil Engineering degree at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has experienced lower than average first-year retention. Management at the GMIT has highlighted the role of teaching staff in increasing retention.
This study evaluates an intervention intended to increase student engagement and motivation (two factors affecting retention) on the Computer Aided Design (CAD) module. This involved mapping the skills and behaviours required to succeed in the module to a set of digital open badges. Such badges have been shown to influence student engagement and motivation in other settings.
This case study involved an interpretive enquiry using mixed-methods (surveys, learning journals and semi-structured interviews) over two phases. Phase 1 evaluated the perceptions towards digital open badges from key stakeholders: students, lecturers, institute management and an employer. This informed the design of the digital open badge scheme, the implementation and impact of which became the focus of Phase 2.
The findings suggest that stakeholders are positive towards digital open badges. The type of motivation did not change; students showed a high tendency towards intrinsic motivation throughout. However, the level of motivation due to interest/enjoyment significantly increased. Students value digital open badges for confidence-building, peer-learning, incentivising attendance and creating links to employability. The employer values digital open badges for identifying candidates with desirable traits and preparedness for continual professional development. Institute management values digital open badges for encouraging peer-learning and attendance at classes.
The implication of the findings is that digital open badges influence student engagement and motivation through building confidence and incentivising attendance. Stakeholders have recognised positive aspects, and there is an indication that digital open badges can play an important role in enhancing student employability. A case is made for using digital open badges in other modules on the programme and more broadly within the department and other institutes.


open badges, collaborative design, research, stakeholder consultation, employability, student motivation, student engagement

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Hello everyone!

Thanks for clicking on my presentation details.

If you would like to connect with me before the presentation, you can reply here, or contact me via email to wayne.gibbons@gmit.ie

The best ‘starting point’ to find out more about me is this website: https://about.me/waynegibbons

If you would like to skim through my doctoral thesis into the design, implementation and impact of digital open badges, you can find it at this link: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/69824


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In preparation for this presentation, perhaps you would like to know more about what digital open badges are, and how they’ve been used at my Institute? I won’t have time to go into background details as part of this presentation, so if you’re interested in that, please have a look at a 35-minute long video I made about a year ago. You can find it on YouTube at this link:


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Link to slides for this presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/wgibbons/designing-and-implementing-digital-open-badges-for-success

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thanks Wayne for your interesting presentation. About the mentor award I mentioned, we are discussing it. We also want to create a “Mentor Honoris Causa” at CRI.

Hi Eric.

The ‘Best Mentor in Class’ badge that I developed was created in conjunction with the employer in my study. The earning mechanism was based around the ‘Buddy’ badges…the employer said he viewed the person with the most Buddy nominations as being the best mentor in class, and so that was how I dealt with it. The recipient was also treated to a ‘day in the life’ type of experience with the employer, where he spent the day in a civil engineering design office to get an idea what that aspect of the career is like. So, it was a great opportunity for the employer to meet a potential employee and a great opportunity for a Year 1 student to get an insight into the industry.

How have you been developing yours?


We are trying to have a global system where Researchers have to take time to mentor PHD and Master students, Master students mentor Licence students.
We experimented with a system to let people recognize who helped them most, but it’s not used anymore. It wasn’t using badges though.
Our experimental “People skill” application will let people say who helped on what, using our WeLearn ontology. We are still at design stage.

That sounds quite formal, compared to what I did. Remember the context for mine was that it was about motivating and building confidence for Year 1 students: I could afford to be less formal with them than you probably need to be with yours.

For the Buddy Badge nominations, I just used Moodle and asked the students to submit their nomination along with a brief outline as to why they were making the nomination: that became the ‘evidence’ on which I based the issue of the badge. I was really taking their word for it, but in many cases I could see the peer-assistance happening in the classroom on front of me, so I knew it was genuine. Also, the students did not know in advance about the Best Mentor in Class badge, and how to earn it (it was one of the ‘Mystery Badges’), so there weren’t lots and lots of nominations aimed simply at earning a special prize.

interesting, thanks. We aim at creating both informal and informal incentives, but your feedback is very useful.

Creating a Mentor Honoris Causa is also design to show how important the mentor role is for us as an institution and to put it at the center of our culture.

That all sounds brilliant. I would be delighted to hear from you if you have any queries that you think I can help with. Or if you want some friendly criticism/feedback (the best kind!). Keep in touch.

Recording of the session:

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