As one of the most frequently discussed questions around open badges, endorsement will be a crucial part of expanding the ecosystem, connecting key stakeholders to badges, and adding to the value of badges. This Working Group has been doing some great work defining ways to build functionality and practice around third party endorsement of badges.
The group looking for feedback on what’s there and what might be missing—as well as the pacing and sequencing of the document. We encourage you to share your thoughts quickly, though, as the group will publicly release the final version of this document within the next two weeks.
Please review and comment by Tuesday, Oct 7th at 3pm PDT / 6pm EDT / 11pm BST
Hi there, if you read this blog it’s probably for one of three things,
1) my investigation of the life of Isham Randolph, the chief engineer of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal.
2) you know me and you want to see what I’m doing but you haven’t discovered Twitter or Facebook yet.
3) Open Badges.
This is a quick update for everyone in that third group, the Open Badges crew. I have some news.
When I joined the Open Badges project nearly three years ago, I knew this was something that once I joined, I wouldn’t leave. The idea of Open Badges hits me exactly where I live, at the corner of ‘life long learning’ and ‘appreciating people for who they are’. I’ve been fortunate that my love of life long learning and self-teaching led me down a path where I get to do what I love as my career. Not everyone is that fortunate. I see Open Badges as a way to make my very lucky career path the norm instead of the exception. I believe in the project, I believe in the goals and I’m never going to not work toward bringing that kind of opportunity to everyone regardless of the university they attended or the degree hanging on their wall.
This summer has been very exciting for me. I joined the Badge Alliance, chaired the BA standard working group and helped organize the first BA Technology Council. At the same time, I was a mentor for Chicago’s Tech Stars program and served as an advisor to a few startups in different stages of growth. The Badge Alliance work has been tremendously satisfying, the standard working group is about to release the first cycle report, and it’s been great to see our accomplishments all written in one place. We’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. That said, my role at the Alliance has been focused on standards growth, some evangelism and guiding a small prototyping project. As much as I loved my summer, the projects and work don’t fit the path I was on. I’ve managed engineering teams for a while now, building products and big technology architectures. The process of guiding a standard is something I’m very interested in, but it doesn’t feel like a full-time job now. I like getting my hands dirty (in Emacs), I want to write code and direct some serious engineer workflow.
Let’s cut to the chase – after a bunch of discussions with Sunny Lee and Erin Knight, two of my favorite people in the whole world, I’ve decided to join Earshot, a Chicago big data / realtime geotargeted social media company, as their CTO. I’m not leaving the Badge Alliance. I’ll continue to serve as the BA director of technology, but as a volunteer. Earshot is a fantastic company with a great team. They understand the Open Badges project and want me to continue to support the Badge Alliance. The Badge Alliance is a great team, they understand that I want to build as much as I want to guide. I’m so grateful to everyone involved for being supportive of me here, I can think of dozens of ways this wouldn’t have worked out. Just a bit of life lesson – as much as you can, work with people who really care about you, it leads to situations like this, where everyone gets what they really need.
The demands of a company moving as fast as Earshot will mean that I’ll be less available, but no less involved in the growth of the Badge Alliance and the Open Badges project. From a tactical perspective, Sunny Lee will be taking over as chair of the standard working group. I’ll still be an active member. I’ll also continue to represent the BA (along with Sunny) in the W3C credentials community group.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me! I’ll still have my firstname.lastname@example.org email address…use it!
Chris is also speaking on an Open Badges & Competencies panel at Educelerate in Chicago - read more about the conference here;
Earlier in the week, the US Department of Labor hosted a national dialogue on career pathways, which featured a live stream of presentations from business leaders, state and local practitioners and national policy leaders;
The first Los Angeles Summer of Learning (LASOL) is being hailed as a success by officials involved with the program, which engaged around 50,000 students this summer, as well as 52 community organizations that offered 130+ digital badges for learning and skills.
Though smaller than last year’s pilot program in Chicago, LASOL was in many ways “more sophisticated and coherent,” according to Charles Kerchener, a research professor in the School Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University.
"Los Angeles’ program was much more integrated with the school system than was its counterpart in Chicago," Kerchener wrote for a piece on edweek.org. “LAUSD was the primary organizer of the project. In Chicago, the city and the non-profits drove the program.”
Organizers from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell program also took on the difficult task of connecting students’ summer learning achievements with their school records. Their staff and administrators worked with badge-issuing community organizations to ensure the criteria and evidence for the badge activities were good measures of the skills and knowledge acquired. The staff also offered badging training to these organizations, teaching them how to design and create robust badges, as well as how to assess student output and navigate the LASOL web site.
As well as the 130+ badges offered by Los Angeles organizations, the site also gave youth access to a number of online badge activities designed by the team at Digital Youth Network, based out of DePaul University.
Though the badges certainly offer an exciting way for youth to get involved with summer activities and show off their learning at school, most participants signed up because of existing connections with one of the community organizations, according to Craig Clough, who wrote about the LASOL on laschoolreport..com. Jennifer Abssy from Inner City Arts said badges made it possible for “kids [to] be validated for the time they spent with our organization.”
Vala Afshar, of the Huffington Post, put together a slide deck and written overview of a recent survey conducted by Extreme Networks looking at digital badges in education and the workforce. Below the deck is an excerpt from this overview, including statistics pulled from the survey about global attitudes towards the benefits and potential of badges.
To understand more about the adoption of digital badges both in academia and industry, Extreme Networks conducted a worldwide survey and received over 1900 responses. According to the survey:
Digital badges offer two primary benefits: motivation (45%) and recognition of knowledge/skills (43%)
While only 38% of those surveyed currently use or plan to use badges, 81% of those who are using badges plan to maintain or increase their badge usage.
Of those with no current plans to use badges, the issue is either a lack of resources (44%) or lack of understanding of badges (34%).
Most of the respondents (59%) believe badges would have a positive impact on their organization, if they had the ability implement them.
Among all respondents, 65% believe the popularity and usage of badges will grow in the future.
61% of those surveyed believe that digital badges will someday replace, or be combined with, college diplomas.
Digital badges give employers easy access to specific and current information pertaining to a candidate’s experience and potential. For now, the most popular use of digital badges is to recognize professional development and internal training (70%).
What’s holding badges back?
According to the survey, the biggest drawback to digital badges is the lack of wide-spread awareness. Badges are only beginning to get beyond their association with games and marketing. 46% of respondents believe that digital badges are not yet widely recognized and 38% say badges are not yet taken seriously. A sizable portion of badge users (43%) have invested their own resources to implement their badge programs, rather than use a commercially available platform. The top three ways that the concept of digital badges can be improved are: better industry and market recognition and acceptance of specific badges (67%), standardized requirements of criteria for similar achievements (55%), and lower cost systems to implement badges (37%).
On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services will host a National Dialogue on Career Pathways.
Federal agency leaders from each Department will provide opening remarks on the impact of building effective career pathways can have on our nation’s workforce system. In addition, the Dialogue will highlight strategies and lessons learned from business leaders, state and local practitioners and national policy leaders.
National stakeholders representing business, organized labor, education, workforce and health and human services agencies are encouraged to host events in conjunction with the broadcast. Leading career pathways states and local areas, such as Colorado, Kansas, and Charlotte, NC will be highlighted as well as innovative career pathways practices from organizations like Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, IL and Wider Opportunities for Women.
Before and during the event, you are encouraged to post questions on Twitter using the hashtag #careerpathways. The federal team will monitor your questions on Twitter and respond to them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during the event.
Our friends in Australia are hosting an exciting event that is open, free, and Internet friendly! See below for information on how to register:
Curate, Credential and Carry Forward Digital Learning Evidence: National Forum, November 13, 2014
The Open Badges project has opened up a new way of recognizing skills and learning through an open, stackable framework and provided an opportunity to recognize more detailed aspects of learning. For example, whereas achievement of learning may be somewhat invisible in collated marks and grades, open badges enable the warranting of capabilities including those that are difficult to measure (such as team work and intercultural competence). Badging skills, experiences and knowledge can supplement or even replace traditional assessment signals such as marks and grades. Open badges can also enable a more social approach to assessment: badges can be issued or endorsed by designated stakeholders - peers, mentors, industry, associations – both within and outside of an institution and build the learner’s ability to judge their own and others’ performance.
This national forum will showcase examples from the thought leaders in the field in prior learning, credentialing, open badges practice and research, and offer an employer’s perspective.
International Thought Leaders Speaking at the Event:
Earning an Open Badge is easy, there’s plenty of places that offer them, with more issuers signing up every day. Once you’ve earned an open badge, you can push it to your backpack, but what if you want to include the badge on your blog, or your artisanal hand crafted web page?
You could download the baked open badge and host it on your site. You could tell people it’s a baked badge, but using that information isn’t super easy. Last year, Mike Larsson had a great idea to build a JS library that would discover open badges on a page, and make them dynamic so that a visitor to the page would know what they were, not just a simple graphic, but a full-blown recognition for a skill or achievement.
Since his original prototype, the process of baking a badge has changed, plus Atul Varma built a library to allow baking and unbaking in the browser. This summer, Joe Curlee and I took all these pieces, prototypes and ideas and pulled them together into a single JS library you can include in a page to make the open badges on that page more dynamic.
There’s a demo of the library in action on Curlee’s Github. It shows a baked badge on the page, when you click the unbake button, it takes the baked information from the image and makes the badge dynamic and clickable. We added the button to make it clear what was happening on the page, but in a normal scenario, you’d just let the library do it’s thing and transform the badges on the page automatically. You can grab the source for the library on Github, or download the compiled / minified library directly.
There’s lot’s more we can do with the library, I’ll be writing more about it soon.
Welcome to the Badger Beats, your weekly roundup of badging news, updates and chatter.
Here’s what went on this week:
On the community project call, Lipscomb University’s Charla Long shared the work Lipscomb has been doing with badges for prior learning and workplace readiness - check out the summary and audio to learn more;
Jay Young published an essay about potential “pathways to accreditation for competency-based and online education advocates,” inspired in part by an approach modeled at Concordia University Wisconsin. Read more here;
Michael Roth at the Atlantic wrote a critical piece on the weaknesses of nano-degrees that capture only a particular skill set, particularly in liberal arts colleges that seek to create well-rounded learners. Read more and add your thoughts in the comments section here;
A piece on University World News looks at the value of the diploma to employers - something we often talk about in the badging community. Interestingly, Sean Gallagher argues that, “beyond a measure of technical skills and general knowledge alone, degrees are often favourable indicators of softer yet critical attributes such as perseverance, meeting deadlines, acculturation and leadership ability,” contradicting many of the employers and recruiters our community has spoken to. An interesting read!
Lipscomb University began looking at competency-based learning in response to an industry need for a new skills currency that could convey graduates’ competencies to potential employers. Traditional transcripts just “don’t cut it,” according to Charla Long, at least not from a higher education perspective. A badge backpack or digital competency report, on the other hand, better communicates to external consumers exactly what students know and can do.
Lipscomb’s Badge Journey
Employers needed new ways to evaluate graduates that highlight important skills and competencies relevant to the workplace: in a 2011 study, it was found that 84% of employers felt graduates were “underprepared” for the workplace. If a traditional degree or transcript can’t provide enough specific information, both graduates and employers miss out on chances to connect talent with opportunities for success.
Students are also highly impacted by gaming and motivated to “level up;” the team at Lipscomb sought to capitalize on the influence of games within education. Badges can help show learners how to progress towards a degree as well as tracking the journey and providing detailed information about the process.
By looking deeply at competency as a basis for credentialing, Lipscomb University began to see every workplace role as being, at its simplest level, a unique combination and levels of the following competencies: Knowledge, Skills, Ability, Attitude. Lipscomb’s role is to identify what learners need to be successful in the roles they are hoping to fulfill.
Lipscomb’s Polaris Competency Model, outlined below, breaks down 41 key competencies across 7 categories:
This breakdown allows for flexibility and customization for particular programs of study and for individual learners’ needs. This allows learners to pursue exactly what they need for a particular career, and employers can clearly see what candidates have achieved, their level of mastery for particular skills, and what soft skills they have been recognized for, including leadership, communication, and management skills.
Charla also talked about the power of badges to empower learners: many of their learners are not degree-seekers, but are working through individual modules according to their needs and capacity. They can then pursue a broader learning experience and credential if they so choose.
Lipscomb currently offers 164 badges in their ‘base inventory,’ and provides students with a competency report that can embed into social media and electronic job-seeking platforms, acting as a transcript of a learner’s badge achievements that allow employers to see what candidates know and can do.
Employer Focus Groups
In a set of employer focus groups, Charla worked with a number of managers and senior managers, engaging them in a number of collaborative and competitive activities over the course of an 8-hour day, assessing various competencies and behaviors to get a sense of their overall performance throughout the day.
The participating employers were given an evaluation and feedback, where they were shown how the work they had done during the exercises could count for academic credit at an undergraduate level through competency badges. There are many employers and manager in the workforce that may not have finished their degree but have years of relevant experience - for them, Charla said it was a revelation to know that what they’d done and learned could count as credit. These focus groups made an explicit connection between skills, badges, and credit, highlighting badge value in both an educational and workplace setting.
These kinds of connections are vital to increasing badge system growth and adoption - and Lipscomb has already seen results. In her June presentation to participants in the Open Badges MOOC, Charla told the group that Lipscomb was talking to an employer considering sending 9,700 peoplethrough Lipscomb’s badged modules!
To learn more about Lipscomb’s core competency model, click here. You can contact Charla Long directly via email with questions and comments.
"Improving Competency-Based and Online Education" is an essay by Jay Young, written about potential “pathway to accreditation for competency-based and online education advocates,” inspired in part by an approach modeled at Concordia University Wisconsin.
Below is an excerpt where Young talks about the role badges play in this pathway:
Competency is a big need in most jobs and one way competency is being determined at the professional level is through badges. Badges in education and business are very similar to the badges system used within the Boy Scouts of America. However, instead of the badge being sewn onto a sash or worn on a shirt, it is digital and an “online representation of a skill [an individual has] earned” (Mozilla Open Badges, 2014). What makes these badges different is that they “[allow the individual] to verify [their] skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations” (2014). One way this works is if Google needs to have employees with certain skills, they could create a badge and allow individuals both inside and outside of the organization to progress towards achieving it. Once the qualifications have been met, Google would grant the badge and the individual would have proof of a skill they have acquired. With this method, badges could allow crowd-sourcing to verify the competence of an individual and determine at what level their competence really resides. What this means is that in order for a badge to be earned, certain competency thresholds must be not only be met but be “visible and validate[d] … in both formal and informal settings” (MacArthur Foundation, 2014). What makes this viable is that “the system is based on an open standard, [so an individual] can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of [their] achievement … and display [them] wherever [the individual] wants them on the web, and share them for employment, education, or lifelong learning” (Mozilla Open Badges, 2014). Think of the power that a partnership between universities and businesses in creating and overseeing badges would bring to the academic and professional arenas.
"Not Just for the Scouts: The Potential of Digital Badges in Documenting Learning"
Description: Digital Badges are beginning to gain traction in the documentation of learning skills and accomplishments in an expanding learning environment. Come join us as we explore what digital badges are, how they are presently being used across many learning environments, and how they might serve learners in the future.
"Hot Lunch" is a lunchtime discussion series, co-sponsored by DK and the Piton Foundation. These discussions are designed to engage Colorado education, policy and business leaders in conversation about the current national challenges and promising practices in education today.
We hope everyone has had a great week - but before we let you go for the weekend, here’s the Badger Beats!
The Open Badges Directory is here! On Wednesday’s community call, the Directory Working Group chair, Kerri Lemoie, made the announcement and walked us through the live prototype - you can start searching for badges at app.achievery.com/discover
Dr. Bernard Bull announced that, as of August 2014, Concordia University Wisconsin is offering the first online master’s degree in Ed Tech that is built around competency-based digital badges - read more here;
In higher ed, the folks from the UK’s Centre for Recording Achievement made a presentation to the Australian National Project: Curate, credential and carry forward digital learning evidence, led by Kathryn Coleman at Deakin - watch that presentation here;
Mark Anderson wrote a blog post on digital badges as “an emerging ecosystem of evidence” - read more here;
Badge issuers will now be able to integrate Credly with MailChimp, allowing badge issuers to award badges through email lists, track badge campaigns, and schedule badging communications using MailChimp;
We hope everyone has had a great week - but before we let you go for the weekend, here’s the Badger Beats!
The Open Badges Directory is here! On Wednesday’s community call, the Directory Working Group chair, Kerri Lemoie, made the announcement and walked us through the live prototype - you can start searching for badges at app.achievery.com/discover
Dr. Bernard Bull announced that, as of August 2014, Concordia University Wisconsin is offering the first online master’s degree in Ed Tech that is built around competency-based digital badges - read more here;
We’ve seen and heard a lot of great things from the Mozilla Discovery team this year. In June 2014, Chloe Varelidi joined the community call to announce the launch of a prototype of Mozilla Discover, a pathway tool that connects open badges to young people’s education, skills and experiences, character traits and interests.
The Open Badges Directory “is a prototype of an un-opinionated storage and retrieval system (API) for Open Badges and an open source community project,” created during the Discovery Project as a collaboration between Mozilla and Achievery, seated in the Badge Alliance Working Group:
The Badge Alliance’s Open Badges Directory is openly available code that enables any platform to begin to do the same.
This week, Achievery launched it’s beta version of a search and index of learning through Open Badges. As of today, Achievery provides a simple index and search engine for learning opportunities that are compatible with the open standards.
Currently, the Directory only indexes badge classes. It is possible to search for badge classes, tags (such as ‘coding’ below), issuers, and badge name within the Directory right now. Future plans include being able to search for badge instances, endorsements, and pathways, to get a broader view of someone’s learning beyond individual badges.
"Badge class" refers to information about types of badges, as opposed to a "badge instance" which refers to an individual earner’s awarded badge that is in their Backpack. See below for more detail on what Badge Class means according to the Open Badge Standard:
We’ve seen increasing numbers of badge earners and issuers over the past couple of years, but for those wishing to search for badges, we’ve had little to offer - until now. The Directory group has now built “the early technical infrastructure to make a Directory of Open Badges a reality" and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities for this prototype!
Badge issuers can go ahead and register their badges with the Directory to allow them to better connect learners with opportunities for earning badges.
A couple days ago I had a BIG conversation with Bill Mills, the Community Manager for Mozilla Science Lab, about open learning, designing for participation, online engagement, collaboration, inspiration and a bunch of other metaphysical ideas that I often create practical implementations for. During our conversation, Bill asked if I had any advice for designing learning experiences that can engage and activate the far ends of the introvert / extrovert spectrum, and I said something along the lines of “The extroverts are easy, and the introverts just need time.”
Later, I was mulling this over and thinking about how hard it is for an outgoing person such as myself to understand people who are shy or don’t participate the way I do. I was thinking about why in our online spaces we have so many people lurking and so few participating. Why don’t more people contribute?
Then I got an email from a blog I follow, and I realized I’m a lurker too. For almost two years, I’ve been lurking around a community that I quite admire. I’ve never said hello, never reached out, never participated in the challenges, or submitted a comment. I’ve not gone to any of their events. But I read what they’re talking about, and I try out their ideas. My life has, without a doubt, changed for the better since I started lurking in this particular community. And no one on Earth knows it, except for me (and you, kind of, though you don’t know what community I’m talking about or the topics they care about).
That website, and the people who participate there, have done a fine job of designing for participation. They have made me feel welcome, I feel like I know people there, I trust those people to a certain extent. I wonder what they’re up to when I haven’t been around in a while. So why don’t I say hello? Why don’t I say “Hey guys, you’re a cool community, thanks for the things you’ve put out in the world. It’s helped me,”?
Simple: I don’t feel like I need to.
I have a global community I like, the Open Community is where I choose to spend my time interacting online. I have the issues that I want to discuss in the open, and the themes of this other place I lurk around aren’t things I feel like I need to discuss. But I’m growing, I’m a better person, I support what they’re doing over there.
We can’t force people to participate, and if we really care about educating people, we shouldn’t try. We should build and design for the people who are participating, and we should be careful to ensure that the lurkers feel welcome. We should create safe spaces of learning and mentorship where even those who don’t complete the call to action still start to develop trust in us, in our products. The fact is you are always a lurker before you participate, so we should be careful not to push people away by implying that they don’t count if they aren’t like us. If we work to love our lurkers, maybe some of them will find their reason to participate.
“No matter the platform, people will always need to know how to understand, analyze and reflect upon larger contexts and systems. That pro-active creation and larger understanding are the ways to reach the end goals of digital and web literacy.” – Leah Gilliam
The goal is to create meaningful and relevant learning experiences outside of the classroom where youth can learn by action. Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network was launched in 2007 and has since spread globally to reach millions of learners around the world. Hives are comprised of organizations such as libraries, museums, after school programs, code clubs and non-profit start-ups. Together, they engage and enable young people to explore their passions, and to develop and diversify their key 21st century skills.
In a technology driven world, what should the goals be when you set out to teach for the new media? What are the challenges and what are some of the strategies that have proved successful? I invited Leah Gilliam, the Director of Mozilla’s Hive NYC Learning Network, to share her perspectives.
“Our work is driven by the research and design principles of connected learning and a specific desire to make how and what people learn relevant.” – Leah Gilliam
Leah, what do you believe is the biggest impact that technology has had on education in the last decade?
The advent of mobile and social networks has had a groundbreaking impact on how we teach, interact and learn with technology. I love that people are carrying powerful computers in their pockets and are able to explore, share and connect–on their own time at their own pace. My real concern is that mobile technology should also be a tool for people to create and construct meaningful content as well–that’s a harder proposition but one we’re working on with Mozilla’s Webmaker platform and tools like AppMaker, a free way to build personal mobile apps.
What are your goals when you set out to teach for the new media?
My goal is always to have people think critically and respond creatively to the world and the conditions around them. No matter the platform, people will always need to know how to understand, analyze and reflect upon larger contexts and systems. That pro-active creation and larger understanding are the ways to reach the end goals of digital and web literacy. Empowering others to create and control their digital lives through and with a technology’s building blocks is of utmost importance. It’s also crucial in our work with youth and educators to empower others to share what they know and teach it to others.
“One of the big challenges we face is helping people build their ideas and learn new things in a networked way.” – Leah Gilliam
What do you believe are the important building blocks for teaching youth how to use media in both a creative and a meaningful way?
Every user should know how to read and write with the technology around them. Not just how to use it or play it but also how to change it and make it work on a user’s own terms. At Mozilla and through Hive Learning Networks, we believe strongly that making can fuel learning. Our goal is to seed the conditions that foster the transformative moments of awareness that breed those larger “hacker” and web literacies. Our work is driven by the research and design principles of connected learning and a specific desire to make how and what people learn relevant. To that end, we design and support social, participatory and interest-driven opportunities that really stick with learners.
Mozilla’s Maker Party initiative is a great example. It is a global effort (happening right now) that brings people together to make, learn and explore in a social atmosphere. It has a specific focus on using digital media and the web as platforms for creativity. This summer alone, we’ve seen more than 455 people step up to help Mozilla teach the web by throwing more than 1220 events in over 260 cities around the world from July to September.
What are the challenges you face in training today’s educators? Are these challenges different from preparing today’s youth? Can you share one or two of the best strategies you have used to overcome the key issues?
Hive creates opportunities that enable learning through hands-on making and exploration with peers and mentors. One of the big challenges we face is helping people build their ideas and learn new things in a networked way. Computer and neural networks are often streamlined and highly efficient. In contrast, learning networks are made up of people sharing information and knowledge and then building upon what they’ve exchanged–they work very differently. Another challenge in this work is creating the opportunities for busy people to develop the ties and broker the relationships that support the exploration, problem identification and discovery that fuel invention. It takes time, space and reflection to engage in the cross-organizational and interdisciplinary partnerships that Hive Learning Networks foster. Although our work with youth takes different forms, the core principles and practices are the same: we strive for interactions that are creative, collaborative, participatory, relevant and openly networked.
We describe Hive NYC as a learning laboratory because of the work we do to create a space for people to explore, create and share together in new ways. One successful strategy we use in this laboratory approach is planning and play-testing new tools and practices that help community members sharpen their ability to identify problems and challenges.
How we work and learn as a team is inspired by open-source technology. It’s predicated on the idea that creating solutions that are interoperable and accessible to others makes them stronger and more robust. Across Mozilla/Hive, we use open collaborative documents and try to formulate questions and prompts that get people working and thinking together in a deeper way.
“Another challenge in this work is creating the opportunities for busy people to develop the ties and broker the relationships that support the exploration, problem identification and discovery that fuel invention.” – Leah Gilliam
Can you share some examples of great ideas that have come out of connecting educators and innovators in the learning space? Have you been able to get widespread distribution for any of these ideas? If yes, please explain.
Hive Pop-Ups – creating a fun, party-like atmosphere for learning and sharing digital and analog skills — was a local innovation and the original idea that seeded the Maker Party campaign. It is a practice that has been adopted by larger audiences as a way to successfully expose others to a make-to-learn approach.
The million dollar (rhetorical) question is how do you create engaging, meaningful and relevant learning experiences with quality, fidelity and scale. It’s the focus of Hive NYC’s work going forward–taking the practices and ideas we’ve helped to pilot successfully in a few environments and expanding their dissemination and reach.
(Photos are courtesy of Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network)
As of August 2014, Concordia University Wisconsin is offering the first (to the best of my knowledge) online master’s degree in educational technology that is built around competency-based digital badges. That means that you earn your master’s degree along with a series of digital badges, each of which represent new knowledge and skill that you are developing as you work through the courses and program. This also means that you are gaining new micro-credentials (digital badges) even before you finish a full course. These are credentials that you can display online as evidence of your growing competence and perhaps your qualification for a new position for your current employer, or evidence of your skill for that future dream job.
Throughout your study, it is possible to earn 50+ digital badges that represent your competence in diverse areas. Each badge comes with an attractive visual design and important data attached to it denoting who issued it, what competency you met, and exactly what you needed to do to earn the badge. These are quality badges because each one represent solid evidence of knowledge and skill in a designated area. Here is a sample of badges that you can earn during this program.
Evaluating Tools and Technologies
Service Learning with Technology
Careers in Educational Design and Technology
Building a Personal Learning Network
Technology, Culture and The Human Experience
Integrating Technology Models
Learning Experience Design Foundations
Social Media for Teaching and Learning
Internet Safety and Online Identity Management
Foundations of Educational Design and Technology Ethics
Data Versus Trend-based Decisions in Education
These badges are embedded into 3-credit online courses that last for eight weeks. During each course, you have the challenge and opportunity to earn 4-6 competency-based badges. You earn these badges by completing one or more applied and practical projects that show your competence. Depending upon the time that you can devote to the program, it is possible to earn the degree in 1 to 2 years.
Sample Competency-based Badges from the CUW Online EDT Program
Kudos to Dr. Bull and the team at Concordia for putting together such a rigorous badged program. We’re super excited to see how this work will pave the way for more badged programs in higher ed and beyond.
Last week, my colleague Lainie Decoursy got in touch wondering if I could write a piece about web literacy. It was a pretty tight turnaround, but given pretty much all I think about during my working hours is web literacy, it wasn’t too much of a big ask!
The result is a piece in EdTech Digest entitled Web Literacy: More than just coding; an enabling education for our times. It’s an overview of Mozilla’s work around Webmaker and, although most of the words are mine, I have to credit my colleagues for some useful edits.
“Your company loves it when you learn a new skill, and will give you a badge to prove it:" The Association for Talent Development (ASTD) published a piece on how badges are being used to motivate learning at the Deloitte Leadership Academy, an online learning environment for the company’s leaders - read more here;
Lastly, check out these awesome youth sports reporters earning badges through Digital Me in the UK:
This week we heard from Emily Armstrong, Libraries and eLearning Manager at Hull College in the UK, where they have been exploring the benefits of digitizing their professional passport for employability as an open badge. The HCUK Employability Seal Open Badges Project is part of a larger Jisc project focused on Open Badges. The project began in April 2014 and the team is now at the evaluation stage, where they will gather feedback over the next six months.
The Progression Passport enables “students to keep a record of the skills they have developed and the industry-relevant training received at Hull College. This will allow [the] students to show employers that they are ready to work and will help employers to recruit the right staff with the right skills and attitude.”
The ‘Employability Skills Seal’ is our endorsement that a student has passed all levels required, including challenging high levels of attendance and punctuality. It demonstrates to employers that they stand out from the crowd by having the skills and qualities they are looking for.
Open Badges are issued to students upon completion of the HCUK Progression Passport and act as an online representation of the skills they have developed and their level of work readiness. By making this employability seal digital, they hope to improve student motivation and encourage employers to recognize the badges, which were broken down into three levels (Gold / Silver / Bronze).
The criteria for earning the badge included attendance, punctuality, and other desirable employability traits. Students’ progress was tracked using a diary-style notebook as well as a digital learning plan system, both of which captured students’ ability to set and work towards self-assigned goals and objectives as well as their attendance and punctuality. The goals were set according to SMART targets and monitored by the students’ tutors (advisers).
The Hull College team also provided students with a help sheet that showed them how to display their earned badges through social networking and web sites, as well as platforms such as LinkedIn and online portfolios. They also told local employers to look out for the badges, helping to bridge a gap that many education-based badge systems face, which is employer awareness and acceptance of the badges earned.
The team worked closely with a recruitment agency, and received a positive response to the badge from them – Emily reported that recruiters were excited about the ability to click through a badge and gain more detail about potential candidates. They are about to enter the next phase of the project, which will include surveying employers and students to gather feedback that will inform future iterations of the badge(s). They want to determine what employers think of the badges beyond the recruiters they’ve already worked with, as well as finding out whether students have found the badges useful since completing the course.
To stay up to date with this project and see the feedback being gathered by the surveys the team is putting together, check out the project blog at http://hcukseal.wordpress.com.
The BA standard working group has had adding extensions to the OB assertion specification high on its roadmap this summer. We agreed that before we could add an extension to an assertion or Badge Class, we needed to add machine readable schema definitions for the 1.0 standard.
Check out this new blog post from Badge Alliance Director of Technology Chris McAvoy, which outlines the progress of the Open Badge Standard Working Group with the Open Badges assertion specification.
The group has gone from exploring to experimenting with JSON-LD, which “builds linked data semantics on the JSON specification., and adds several key features to JSON.”
First things first, what do we mean when we say “Open Badges Infrastructure?” Infrastructure is a bit of a loaded term, you can interpret it as servers, you could interpret it as software, or both hardware, software, internet…all the things. We’ll make this easy and say that the Open Badges technical Infrastructure is all the things that make it possible to earn or issue an Open Badge.
“All the things” is an easy answer to the question, “what is the open badges infrastructure?” but it doesn’t help much when we’re trying to push the infrastructure forward, when we’re trying to grow the ecosystem. Given a technical infrastructure need, how does the Badge Alliance, and the Open Badges community, figure out the best way to address the need? If the OBI is “all the things,” who could support it without turning the OBI into a silo’d badge system?
When we asked what role the Badge Alliance would play in the OBI, we knew that the OBI needed a shepherd organization that could help the members of the OB community coordinate their efforts maintaining the long-term health of the OBI. So how do we decide what actions fit into that model? What parts of the OBI are fair game for the BA to directly touch, which parts can we influence, which parts should we stay away from entirely?
We built a three-tier model that represents all the pieces of the OBI,
The first layer of the tier is the Open Badges standard. If you’re issuing an Open Badge, you’re relying on the standard to make the badge interoperable, transportable and verifiable. It’s the layer that all the other layers of the OBI rely on.
The second layer is libraries and tools that interact with the standard. Badge issuing libraries, validation libraries, badge bakers, tools that you download and install on your machine, or use as a dependency to build a bigger tool, fit in this layer.
Lastly, the top layer is userland. The marketplace. All the hosted services that interact with badge earners, with badge issuers and with badge consumers. It relies on the layers below it, and covers them up. A student earning a badge never knows that layers one and two exist, they just know that they received a badge and are storing it in their backpack.
Given the three layer model of the OBI, the Badge Alliance realized that it’s absolutely vital that we take a very active role in the maintenance of the first layer – the OB Standard, a less active role in the library layer, and a purely advisory role in the top userland layer.
Like all frameworks, it’s possible to find edge cases that break the model, but for most cases, it’s a solid way to judge what actions the BA should take in the maintenance of the OBI. Sunny and I will write more over the next couple of weeks about exactly how the BA will play in the three tiers.
In the two weeks that lead up to the September 15th launch of Connected Courses (#ccourses), a connectivst experience to help you build your own connectivist experiences (META), Howard Rheingold, Alan Levine, Jim Groom and the organizers of #ccourses will be helping you get set up with your own space in the web, so that you can start blogging, building your network and otherwise practicing openness.
In a happy coincidence, Webmaker Training is posting two under-development modules that can help you understand the ins and outs of building your online presence and beginning to tinker around with the web. The “Building an Online Presence” and “HTML Basic” modules are renewed and remixed, maker centric intros to becoming a master of the technology behind open learning. Using peer to peer methodologies (hey, this content was built together with P2PU!) and clear production oriented tasks Webmaker Training can help you learn everything you need to know to have your own space of the web.
The entire Webmaker Community is eager to #TeachTheWeb, and we’re looking forward to helping people who are starting to dabble. Have a look at the modules, and pop into our discussion forum or a community call and ask questions, share ideas and get advice.
The BA standard working group has had adding extensions to the OB assertion specification high on its roadmap this summer. We agreed that before we could add an extension to an assertion or Badge Class, we needed to add machine readable schema definitions for the 1.0 standard.
We experimented with JSON-Schema, then JSON-LD. JSON-LD isn’t a schema validator, it’s much more. It builds linked data semantics on the JSON specification. JSON-LD adds several key features to JSON, most of which you can play around with in the JSON-LD node module.
Add semantic data to a JSON structure, link the serialized object to an object type definition.
Extend the object by linking to multiple object type definitions.
A standard way to flatten and compress the data.
Express the object in RDF.
Treat the objects like a weighted graph.
All of which are features that support the concept behind the Open Badges standard very well. At its core, the OB standard is a way for one party (the issuer) to assert facts about another party (the earner). The assertion (the badge) becomes portable and displayable at the discretion of the owner of the badge.
JSON-LD is also quickly becoming the standard method of including semantic markup on html pages for large indexers like Google. Schema.org now lists JSON-LD examples alongside RDFa and Microdata. Google recommends using JSON-LD for inclusion in their rich snippet listings.
We’ve been talking about JSON-LD on the OB standard working group calls for a while now. It’s starting to feel like consensus is forming around inclusion of JSON-LD markup in the standard. This Tuesday, September 2nd 2014, we’ll meet again to collectively build a list of arguments for and against the move. We’ll also discuss a conditional rollout plan (conditional in that it will only be executed if we get the thumbs up from the community) and identify any gaps we need to cover with commitments from the community.
It’s going to be a great meeting, if you’re at all interested in JSON-LD and Open Badges, please join us!
Happy Friday, badgers! Welcome to the Badger Beats, your weekly list of blog posts, events and announcements from the open badges community.
Here’s what’s been happening this week:
On this week’s community call, Brandon “BK” Klevence joined us to share the work the Free Library of Philadelphia has been doing this summer to develop badges with the teens they serve - check out a summary here;
This week, KPMG, one of the leading providers of professional accounting services in the UK, announced they will be backing the iDEA Award that encourages youth to develop their own business ventures - read more here;
BK joined this week’s community call to share what the Free Library of Philadelphia has been doing this summer with their teen participatory design badging program.
The Free Library team developed 4 different badges around the college readiness process through the lens of creative maker projects in association with the Maker Jawn initiative, a team of artists, engineers, designers, and thinkers who work in libraries in Philadelphia.
Documenting summer learning and career readiness
Working with libraries in low-income neighborhoods as part of the North Philadelphia Library Cluster, the team led afterschool and summer activities in partnership with the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN).
The program served approximately 70 teens at 9 library locations working with 20 or so maker mentors and college prep specialists helping the students with SAT prep and scholarship applications.
The four badges created by the team were:
Community / team building
Creator / inventing
Presence / presenting
Life / being
The badge program was aimed at middle school students, although the team found that the high school students PYN hired to help with the program were designing badges for themselves, looking to college and career readiness, rather than skill-building badges for the younger students - perhaps offering an interesting insight into what the teens thought badges were most valuable for.
The teens created a number of physical badges and presented their badge projects to the larger group. Some of the teens also used online badge builders to create digital versions of the badges. The team took their badge projects and funneled them into actionable items that could guide those pursuing badges.
The teens worked in groups, using prompts to identify individual strengths and weaknesses and community impact. From these, they created badge designs, projects and evidence to present to a larger group. A badging template was used to help guide the teens, and they were able to provide feedback on each others badge project presentations
Passport for Documentation
The team came up with the idea of creating a book for each student, to act as a passport for documenting the activities they participated in over the summer. This involved both the physical creation and customization of a journal, as well as filling it with documentation of interviews, artistic creations, online tests, critiques of others’ work, time management skill development, and other markers of progress from the summer’s activities.
The Free Library team’s goal with developing a prototype set of badges was to give the youth a means of documentation for their activities that they could take with them - not just physically, but digitally - beyond the program and onwards to high school, college, and careers. The portable and transferable method of recognizing skills offered by badges meant they were a natural fit for this program, and it will be interesting to see how it develops as the team rolls out the badges.
This week, KPMG, one of the leading providers of professional accounting services in the UK, announced they will be backing the initiative, which is aiming to help more than one million UK youth develop digital skills and business ideas over the next five years:
iDEA has been created to help 14-25-year-olds develop their digital, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills, boost the confidence of young people and increase their employability status.
Young people taking part in the iDEA award scheme will have their skills and achievements recognised through open badges - a new global standard to recognise skills and achievements across the web. In addition to the three core iDEA badges, many of the new partners will sponsor their own open badge and offer participants in the programme the chance to carry out online tasks in order to earn one.
A full launch of the initiative will happen in October 2014.
Mozilla also announced that the deadline for submitting proposals for MozFest has been extended to August 29th! If you’re interested in being a part of the Open Badges floor this year, get those submissions in by next Friday.
Tom Welch, a former Kentucky high school teacher and principal, describes himself as “an education futurist committed to the transition from the Age of Schooling to the Age of Learning.” He co-directed a program this summer where his students used open badges to earn performance-based high school credits.
The Kentucky Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) is one of 3 “Governor’s Schools” operating in Kentucky. It is an intense summer learning experience, which this year had 59 high school students. These students - referred to as ‘Entrepreneurs’ or simply ‘Es’ but never ‘students’ while in the program - spent three weeks in residence on the campus of a Kentucky college. Using the “Business Model Canvas" as a template, the Entrepreneurs worked in 12 teams to launch a startup. At the end of the three weeks, they pitched to a panel of outside judges and were awarded a total of $1000. The top five teams were invited to present their business idea to The Lexington Venture Club, and now negotiations for funding are now underway for some of those teams.
Tom has co-directed the program for the past 2 years, led by an interest in performance-based credentialing, and in “bridging the gap between independent learning and high school credentials”
The goals of the GSE are:
to recognize summer learning
to create an environment focused on developing independent, autonomous learners
to reinforce idea that there was no upper limit to learning, and that their success as an entrepreneur was linked to their knowledge base
Tom wanted to give learners the option to credential their learning with badges, recognizing the connection between competency-based / performance-based learning and badges.
Staff at the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) designed four open badges that align with the Open Badge Standard:
Design Thinking/Prototype Development
Value Proposition/Customer Engagement
Revenue Model/Financial Planning and Sustainability
Channels/Key Partners and Resources
Es who earned all four of these badges were awarded the GSE Master Badge. Tom and his team worked with staff from the Kentucky Department of Education and individual schools to negotiate credit opportunities for those who had earned the GSE Master Badge. While the actual awarding of credits is up to the individual schools, Kentucky is one of the many US states which has provisions for “Performance-based Credits.” Tom has found that many educators are unaware of regulations that allow for performance-based credentialing during his time working with the GSE.
The GSE uses a formative assessment approach, believing it reflects ongoing learning much better than summative assessment. By assessing Es along the way – looking at participation, conversation, engagement, ability to relate course content to outside experiences etc. as well as written documentation of their experiences in ‘component sheets’ – they are able to identify areas needing more focused learning and concentrate the young entrepreneurs’ efforts to those things they are less competent with. For those schools who had questions about what the badges represent and wanted to see more than the assessment and evidence within the badges, these component sheets can be used as ‘backup evidence.’
Both learners and the schools seem to be responding well to badging – of the 60 or so students, 42 earned enough badges throughout the program to seek academic credit. The program directors have been working with KY Department of Education and their Department of Innovation from the beginning, increasing awareness of the program and its badges as well as educating others on the benefits of badges. A former teacher working at one of the schools even contacted all other schools that had students who wanted credit for their badges, to inform and guide those schools in the process.
This is the first time in Kentucky that Open Badges have been tied to the assessments within Governor’s Schools, and the first time that academic credit has been possible for a group of students from different districts who learned independently together during the summer. It’s great to see badges being used to successfully bridge the gap between in- and out-of-school learning using performance-based, formative assessment methods.
To learn more about the Kentucky Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs, click here.
What are we learning? This post highlights new metrics and some early analysis from Adam, Amira, Geoff, Hannah and many others. The goal: turn our various sources of raw data into some high-level narrative headlines we can learn from.
That means we’ve already surpassed last year’s total! 1,694 total Maker Party events last year, vs. same number in our first month this year.
But: we’ll still need a big event push in second half to hit our contributor target.
Tracking partner activity. Automated tracking has been hard — we’re relying instead on one-to-one calls.
We’re gathering great data from those calls. e.g.,
Unreported success. Partners are participating in ways that aren’t showing up in our system. Manual badging is filling that gap.
Occasional confusion about the ask. Some think “Maker Party” is a “MozFest-level” commitment. They don’t realize the ask is simpler than that.
They need easier ways to get started. More simplification and hand-holding. Working on a simplified “Event Wizard” experience now.
Some partners see more value in Maker Party than others. Orgs with offerings similar to our own may perceive less value than those in adjacent spaces.
We haven’t cracked the earned media nut. Not much coverage. And little evidence of impact from the coverage we got.
We don’t have a good way for measuring participation from active Mozillians.
Second half. We should gear up for a second “back to school” wave to maximize contributors.
“There’s the ‘summer wave’ and ‘back to school’ waves. We need to have strategies and actions towards both.” –Hannah
1) Partner conversion. This is probably our best immediate strategy for boosting contribution. Ship a simplified on-ramp for Maker Party partners. A new “Event Wizard,” simple start-up events, and user success support.
2) Convert Webmaker users to contributors. We’ve seen a *big* increase in user numbers. This opens an opportunity to focus on converting those users. Ask them to do something more directly. Try new low-bar CTAs, email optimization, re-activating dormant users, etc.
3) Training. Train the trainer events, MozCamps, MozFest, etc.
Year-long engagement. How do we more evenly distribute event creation throughout the entire year?
Match-making. How do we identify the teachers? How do we connect those who want to learn with those who want to teach? What are the pathways for teachers / learners?
Impact. How many people are learning? How much are they learning? Should we make “number of people learning” Webmaker’s KPI in 2015?
If you are a Firefox desktop user, you may have seen the Firefox default home page. This page contains a default engine web search and quick links to downloads, bookmarks, history, add-ons, sync and settings. Additionally, if you happen to have had tabs open the last time you used the browser, you can restore them from the home page. We often share important news and updates underneath the search bar.
This is what I currently see at the Firefox default home page. Animated gifs FTW.
A few months back, Hive Labs, (a new project within the Hive Learning Networks designed to explore the question “how do we use design to transform edupunk ethics into great products?”), was approached by the Mozilla Foundation Engagement team to brainstorm how the space could be used in an innovative way to educate Firefox users about theMaker Party. Maker Party is Mozilla's global campaign to teach the web, uniting educators, organizations and enthusiastic web users with hands-on learning and making. While I have to admit, I have never really created something in the realm of owned media, I saw this as an interesting opportunity for Mozilla to show (vs. tell) what Maker Party is all about.
The team (which included creative individuals from many different projects across the Mozilla Foundation and the Corporation) immediately identified the opportunity space and came up with a few project requirements:
use the space in an interactive way to introduce the website visitor to web literacy skills
acknowledge that the visitor may not have ever seen code before, and understand that we do not know what web literacy skills they are coming to this space with
create something playful
While we tossed around a few different ideas, the solution that we came up with was to create a Webmaker Goggles - like experience that lets the visitor see under the hood of the webpage.
After doing some initial sketches, we realized that we needed to define our learning objectives for the project. While normally this is fairly easy to do - you say that the learner will come away with the ability to remix a paragraph written in HTML and understand what p tags are, or something very basic. Here, the challenge was two-fold: 1. the webpage visitor did not identify as a learner and 2. as I mentioned before, they might have no knowledge of the fact that the code is written in order to create a webpage. So, after several false starts, we came up with the the goal of having the website visitor walk away understanding that if you look under the hood of a webpage, you will see it is made from code.
Initial sketches for the snippet included replacing the Firefox logo with an image
After the learning objective was defined, we had to interpret what that meant in terms of interaction design. I believe that the most effective way to empower a user is to put the tools in their hands to allow them to directly address and grapple with the thing that they might learn by tinkering with it themselves. We tried out a few different iterations on this. Above is a sketch where the visitor might get instructed to remix the page from a video. The idea was to have a person in the video describe what to do, and then the learner would use the goggles to swap out the video for an image or video of their choosing. This idea was fun, and had a lot of potential community localization opportunities. However, there was a risk that the user would just not click on the video, and miss out on all the fun.
Ultimately, we ended up utilising what Atul Varma calls “cruise control” —that’s where we model the behavior in order to encourage the site visitor to try it out themselves. It looks like someone is typing out all of the words on the screen. We decided to focus on revealing a little CSS, because you can use real words to represent colors and seeing those colors immediately can have a visceral impact on the site visitor. Here is a screencast of the interaction:
** Update: You can see the actual interactive experience by going to the Firefox homepage or if you can't get to that, check it out here. **
The crazy and kickass cast of characters who pulled this interactive off are: Chris Lawrence, Atul Varma, Brian Brennan , Adam Lofting, Hannah Kane, Jean Collings, Mike Kelly, Chris More, Matt Thompson, Aki Rose Braun, David Ascher, Geoffrey MacDougall, Brett Gaylor, John Slater, Eric Petitt, Mary Ellen Muckerman, Pete Scanlon and Andrea Wood.
We’re really excited about this project, as it represents one of the first interactive uses (if not THE first) of the space of the Firefox home page. We hope that as site visitors dip their toes into understanding the craft of the Web, they’ll be inspired to learn more through Webmaker and Maker Party. Our ultimate goal is for people to feel empowered to become creators, not just consumers, of the Web.
You may have seen this exciting announcement from Pearson earlier in the week, but just in case you missed it - we’re happy to share the news with you!
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, is issuing badges for the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification program via its badge platform, Acclaim. Badges will now be available to candidates who earn ACA certification for the Adobe Creative Cloud or Creative Suite 6.
"ACA candidates excel in the digital media world and appreciate having proof of their skills in a format that can be managed and shared online," said Melissa Jones, world wide education program manager for Adobe. “By representing the ACA certification as a badge through Acclaim, we empower our students to take credit for and manage their achievements digitally.”
Jarin Schmidt, product lead for Acclaim added, “Acclaim badges help lower the cost of credential verification and enable ACA candidates to share their accomplishments in a verified fashion across the online destinations most relevant to them.”
We’re proud to see such industry leadership from Pearson and Adobe, and hope others follow suit in these badgeriffic endeavors!
They say that news “breaks.” And when they do, it conjures images of daybreak, shedding new light on the world. But news also breaks things apart: our understanding, our assumptions, how we thought the world was. This week feels a lot like that.
But working in journalism isn’t just about being around when things break, it’s about staying in that room as the real work begins. Because news isn’t simply about breaking things: At its best, it is about fixing, about healing, about reaching understanding.
Looking at news break this week it’s clear that understanding is no longer achieved through the printed page or the broadcast booth—things move too quickly for that now. From parsing the Snowden documents to covering the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, real understanding now comes in new ways.
Those new ways mean bringing new skills into newsrooms and with those skills new ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds. It means experimenting with new forms of storytelling and new tools on the backend. It means collaboration, sharing, and working in the open.
This is what Knight-Mozilla Fellows do every day. And it’s why you should apply to join their ranks in 2015. If you love to build things on the web, if you’re a creative thinker who solves problems in code, if you’re a civic hacker, a data scientist, a web designer, or just a self-taught coder, join us.
As a Fellow, you will do many things: work in some of the best newsrooms in the world, have colleagues that will challenge and champion you in equal measures, write open-source code that gets used by thousands. But most important is helping bring understanding to a world that desperately needs it.
As we think about what’s next for Webmaker, we’re conducting interviews to better understand our audience and develop user personas. What challenges do teachers in the classroom face, for example? How can we help them spread web literacy? Here’s what Phil Macoun, an educator from Nanaimo, B.C., had to tell us.
Phil: a tech-savvy educator trying to help his school
Phil Macoun is the Technology Coordinator at Aspengrove School in Nanaimo
He’s thinking about how to implement a complete digital literacy curriculum for the entire school, from grades 1 to 12
He recently started pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership. “Because real change is going to happen at a higher level. Technology alone isn’t enough — the technology needs to support the pedagogy.”
What would K to 12 digital literacy look like?
Phil’s been thinking a lot about what “digital literacy” might look like from kindergarten all the way to grade 12. As his school’s Technology Coordinator, he has the opportunity to implement a school-wide curriculum, influencing an entire staff of teachers and several hundred students.
He’s been surveying the landscape. Phil has researched various digital literacy offerings and approaches, including:
He’s familiar with Webmaker tools like Thimble, and has been following Webmaker’s Web Literacy Map.
“The whole maker movement thing is a big part of what I’m thinking about right now. [Mozilla's] web literacy map outlines things kids need to do, but there also need to be attitudes and approaches tied up into the learning. How to design and be creative.”
The hard part is implementation
The biggest challenge for Phil is: how to help busy, time-strapped teachers get started teaching this stuff in their own classrooms. “In terms of implementation, this is where I get stuck,” Phil says. “[Webmaker] has got good ideas — but I don’t know how to scale them up for my school.”
“I can’t possibly do all this myself — I need other teachers to be responsible for implementing it. I need a framework.”
His best solution so far?
What has worked to help him solve this problem so far? The Common Sense Media “Digital Citizenship” curriculum. By sending his fellow teachers that one link, along with a bit of context and guidance, he was able to offer time-strapped colleagues something close to a turn-key solution. They loved it.
“It lowers the barrier to entry. They can quickly see the grade level, learning outcomes, download a lesson plan, get worksheets. There’s everything they need to get started.”
Phil likes that Common Sense Media also just published an e-book manual for teachers, and says that many other independent schools in BC are now adopting the Common Sense curriculum.
Parents want these skills for their kids
“I mostly get parents coming and saying: thank you for teaching my kids this stuff!” Phil says. “They like that I’m telling their kids how to search the Internet properly. They know that their kids are immersed in this online world, and they’re looking for help to manage it properly.”
From exploring and building to connecting
Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map is based around exploring, building and connecting. Phil says that parents and colleagues intuitively grasp the value of “Exploring” and “Building” — but less so with “Connecting,” the piece he actually thinks is the most valuable.
“Trying to get people to understand that piece is much harder,” he says. “‘Exploring’ is easy — people want kids to be able to search the internet better. The ‘building’ piece is easy as well — kids programming video games, printing stuff on a 3D printer. Parents love that stuff. Its harder to explain the connecting piece.”
“You want to get from ‘Help me to manage my kids online life’ to ‘help me teach my kids to leverage this tool to its full potential.”
How could Webmaker’s curriculum offering improve?
We recently shipped a new series of pages that we think of as a “textbook for web literacy.” I invited Phil to tale a look at the “Privacy” page, from a teacher’s perspective.
“As a busy teacher what I’m looking for is: what’s the stuff that’s relevant to me.
If I was a teacher who didn’t know a lot about this topic, I’m looking for: ‘What am I teaching? What are my learning outcomes? How am I going to do it?'”
“I look at this page and go: I don’t have time to figure this out right now. I had to scroll right down to the very bottom of the page to know that there was stuff here for teachers.”
“If I had a teacher portal, like the Common Sense Media stuff, it could show me what the different elements of the Web Literacy thing might look like in primary school, vs middle school, vs high school, etc. When it’s all kinda jumbled up, I don’t have time to pick out the good stuff.”
Badges as a more fluid way to recognize learning
“I’d love to use badges as a formative assessment tool in my classroom. A more fluid way students could celebrate their learning. Maybe I could find a way to loop badges into what my kids are already doing with Google Docs, or Scratch, or TinkerPad. That would be really cool.”
Google Apps recently became Aspengrove school’s go-to digital platform. They moved the whole school over to it. Every student from grade 8 and up now has a Google Apps email address.
“All our students are doing their writing in Google Docs now.”
In a way, Phil’s school is using Google Docs the same way Mozilla uses etherpads — for immediate web-based collaboration.
“The first thing teachers and students do is open up a Google Doc and start putting all their ideas in one document. In many cases, teachers have been writing alongside the kids, so that students can get comments from the teacher as they go. And teachers are doing most of their classroom presentations in Google Docs as well.”
Some early conclusions and analysis
I found this interview hugely insightful. I’m going to think some more about analysis, early conclusions and next steps. But in the mean time: what do you think? Please share your thoughts as comments on this post.
This week we were joined by Tom Wood, Director at RWA Group, one of the UK’s leading business and training consultancy firms, to talk about their e-learning platform, OBELISK, which awards badges and certificates to insurance brokers meeting regulatory standards for competency within their fields by completing training materials designed to fill gaps in knowledge or experience.
Gap analysis for competency assessment
The OBELISK e-learning platform used by RWA uses a formative learning approach for assessment of competence in order for brokers to meet regulatory standards. By conducting an assessment at the beginning of the learning period, users of the platform can see a gap analysis that shows them what they don’t already know. This allows them to monitor their progress from the start, and to focus on filling gaps in their knowledge, rather than sitting through modules of material they already know before being assessed.
The RWA Group defines competence as knowledge, understanding, application, and the OBELISK platform allows learners to revisit the gap analysis at the end of a learning period to ensure those gaps have been filled, in whichever area(s) of competencies they needed to work on.
OBELISK provides learners with an evidence-based record of progress, making badges a natural complement to the platform. As Tom pointed out in his presentation, a physical learning file is much more cumbersome and difficult to navigate than a set of badges, which allow employers to easily see where brokers are improving their skills and expanding their knowledge.
The RWA Group started using badges 12 months ago, and have awarded over 800 badges to their 5,000+ users. They currently offer 100 competency badges, as well as a set of second-tier badges for non-competency based tasks to highlight learners who are pursuing training in the evenings or with increased frequency. The majority of the OBELISK badges have expiration dates to encourage users to revisit gap analyses and ensure they’re still meeting competency standards.
Challenges and lessons learned
The OBELISK platform is based on a Moodle integration with badges, so the technical implementation of the RWA badges was smooth, according to Tom. The real challenges were centered around user engagement:
traditional e-learning is ‘stale,’ and the assessment-based learning approach in OBELISK presents a challenge for some so aren’t familiar with it
there is an overall increase in usage of the platform but engagement with the badges specifically has proven difficult among certain demographics; Tom speculates that the older users are familiar with badges’ physical counterparts, and younger generations are familiar with social or gaming badges, but there is a middle group that are unfamiliar with both of these and need more instruction on what the badges are and how they can be of use
the badges currently aren’t representative of formal CPD (continued professional development) and some (consumers/employers) feel they are less meaningful than traditional certificates; however, Tom thinks that with increasing momentum within the platform and broader understanding of badges across industries will see a shift in this attitude
another challenge was connecting badges to résumés / CVs; Tom speculated that templates showing learners how to imcorporate their badges into their CVs would encourage more creative résumé design
If you build it, they will come
Most people want to learn, Tom argued, saying that if you give people the tools to improve their training and better themselves, they will. From the conversations he’d had with a few of the OBELISK badge earners (including their user of the month Julie, highlighted in the images), there were a range of motivators encouraging people to pursue the badges, including nostalgia (recalling the days of scout badges), the appeal of challenges to be overcome, and an overall desire to improve training and competence. Many of the younger users were intrigued by the social potential of sharing badges, whereas the older users were less enthused about the badges in particular but were drawn to the assessment challenges.
We recently shared details ofsix panel submissions we’ve put together with various members of the global open badges community and the Badge Alliance team - read more on this blog post.
As you know, community support is very important for the South by Southwest Education Conference + Festival, so we kindly ask you to take a moment to share your favorite prospective talks with your followers. This is your opportunity to help get the open badges community to SXSWedu 2015.
Sample tweets you can share with your networks and communities:
Help get @OpenBadges to #SXSWedu2015! Visit http://bit.ly/OB-SXSWedu to read about our panels & start voting! #openbadges #badgealliance
Vote for #openbadges to speak at #SXSWedu2015 || Badging & the great form vs function debate, feat. @soletelee || http://bit.ly/OBskills
Vote to get #openbadges to #SXSWedu2015 || New Open Badges Strategies in Higher + Alt Ed, feat. @carlacasilli || http://bit.ly/OBhighered
Vote for #openbadges to speak at #SXSWedu2015 || Badge The World: Global Lessons in Open Badging || http://bit.ly/OBglobal #BadgeTheWorld
Vote to bring #ConnectedLearning to #SXSWedu2015 || The Best Learning Doesn’t Only Happen in School || http://bit.ly/OBconnected
Vote to get #openbadges to #SXSWedu2015 || Creating Citywide Connected Learning Ecosystems, feat. @megcolek || http://bit.ly/OBcities
Vote to get #openbadges to #SXSWedu2015 || After the Unbundling, Learner-Driven Pathways Rule, feat. @damianewens || http://bit.ly/OBunbundle
Thank you everyone!
Wish us luck in getting these submissions to SXSWedu - and hopefully we’ll see you there!
PanelPicker public voting: August 11 - September 5
The public voting period for PanelPicker is now open! PanelPicker is the crowd-sourced platform that empowers the community to voice their opinions about what programming they want to see and which people they want to hear from at SXSWedu 2015. More than just a submission and voting tool, it allows users to review each other’s work and provide feedback on proposed sessions.
You have the chance to show your support for the Badge Alliance and open badges partner organizations as we have six proposals featuring open badges that are up for consideration for SXSWedu 2015. Cast your ballots now through Friday, September 5, to see badges take the stage next year!
Below you will find a short description of each session that will feature an Open Badges team member. Along with partner organizations, we have proposed sessions that address key areas related the work of the Badge Alliance and partner organizations:recognizing 21st century skills;badges for higher and alternative education; global case studies in badging; badges and connected learning; creating citywide badge systems for connected learning; and learner-driven pathways.
Community-driven support is vital to earning a place at SXSW so we kindly ask you to vote for each session by clicking the links below.
Community member votes count for 30% of a submission’s total score, so your votes matter greatly in getting these important discussions onto the conference schedule.
Thanks for helping us spread the word about badges to groups of educators from the around the world.
Badging is becoming the new currency in credentialing. It strikes a balance between the function of demonstrating or assessing skills and the form of communicating them to the market - both through transparency and granularity. This is especially important for hard to define categories like “21st century skills.”
Open Badges provide new ways of acknowledging learning and experiences; in this session we’ll push the edge of the educational innovation envelope by demonstrating how badges can both comfortably operate within traditional Higher Ed and disrupt it at the same time. Additionally we’ll discuss badge research and address how badges are changing alternative education. Three dynamic speakers will demonstrate the methods they’re using to assess and acknowledge learning in a badge-friendly world.
Around the world, innovators in education & workforce are using data-rich open badges to identify talent, mark learning pathways, & open doors to opportunities worldwide. Millions of badges have been pledged to the Badge The World site, where educators, employers, and awarding bodies can collaborate & contribute to the expanding open badging ecosystem. We’ll share case studies in badging from the US, Europe and Australia, exploring 5 key lessons learned in badge system design and implementation.
Connected Learning is a new approach that harnesses technology to make learning more powerful and more relevant to the world youth live in now and will work in tomorrow. Interest driven, academically oriented, social, and connected to real life and real work, Connected Learning is designed to address the opportunity gap and equip all students with the 21st century skills they will need to thrive in a complex world where the only constant is change.
Cities of Learning create cross-sector partnerships to ensure all youth have access to learning opportunities in libraries, museums, and other local institutions, as well as online. Started in Chicago in 2013, the movement has spread to Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., with more cities poised to join in 2015. Cities help put Connected Learning into action by using open badges to showcase knowledge youth acquire and create pathways between learning experiences.
As new learning models emerge and old ones fall, highly personalized “anytime, anywhere, any pace” learning pathways are taking hold that put the students in the driver’s seat. In this panel, take a glimpse into the pedagogy of two innovative learning models that are recognizing hard and soft skills and making connections well beyond the school walls. We’ll demonstrate how a global directory of learning opportunities is facilitating these critical connections and will empower your learners.
Because word of mouth is so important around this gathering, taking a moment to share your favorite prospective talks with your followers is much appreciated. According to the organizers, "This is your opportunity to help determine what sessions, themes, and speakers are best fit for the SXSWedu Conference & Festival."
More about SXSWedu:
Education’s most energetic and innovative leaders from all backgrounds of the learning landscape including teachers, administrators, university professors, business and policy leaders converge each March at the SXSWedu Conference & Festival. The four-day event is a platform for the growing SXSWedu community to connect, collaborate, create and change how we teach and learn. Read more here.
Becoming a Knight-Mozilla Fellow is a thrilling opportunity, one that will plunge you head-first into the problemsets of journalism, and allow you to experiment and build compelling solutions. We tell our Fellows that they should “follow your passions” in approaching their builds and projects.
But those passions require time, and moving to a new city (Fellows live in the city their host newsroom is located in) requires real dedication. As a result, being a Fellow is an adventure, but it’s also a commitment: of thought, of talent, and of time.
Partner and Children: We know that not everyone that writes code is single. And we want your partner and children to share the adventures of your Fellowship with you. All of our supplements scale and adapt to your living situation. We even offer a supplement to help cover the cost of childcare.
Housing: Moving to a new city for your Fellowship is a big deal, and so we want to help by covering much of your moving costs as well as offering a supplement for your rent.
Equipment and Research: We want our Fellows to be ready to do write next-level code, and we know that sometimes means updating their equipment or doing deep-dives on research, and so we we offer up to $3000 as in our research and equipment allowance. On top of that, we give each Fellow $250 to cover domain registrations or server costs for their experiments.
Travel: Our Knight-Mozilla Fellows travel the world and we help to cover much of their travel. We even help to book it.
We want the year that you are a Knight-Mozilla Fellow to be amazing. We want you to make things that last long beyond your Fellowship year. We know that the first step on that is knowing that you’re taken care of during your Fellowship year, and we do our best to make sure you are.
Our former research call co-wrangler Emily Goligoski joined the community project call to share the current work in progress on Mozilla Badges and gather feedback from the community - find out how to get involved here;
Becoming a Knight-Mozilla Fellow means being embedded in some of the best news organizations in the world. That means you won’t just be in the room when news breaks, you’ll be creating compelling new ways to break it. You won’t just have colleagues to learn from, but peers excited to learn from you too. And you won’t just be another set of hands in the newsroom—you’ll be experimenting, trying new things, and tackling major newsroom projects.
You will be fully part of the London newsroom, able to collaborate with reporters, editors, graphics editors, interactive developers, designers and more. You’ll also have the ability to collaborate with business-side teams as well, including the Guardian’s world class digital development, analytics and product teams.
But as a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, your goal isn’t just to improve the Guardian; it’s to improve journalism as a whole, with one of the world’s most important newsrooms as your laboratory.
NPR wants a fellow to join their unique hybrid Visuals team in Washington, D.C. For Brian Boyer, the NPR Visuals editor, the fellow will be a teammate—plus:
You’ll be our teammate: making stuff with us, learning what we’ve learned, teaching us what you know and what you’re learning elsewhere during your fellowship year.
The Washington Post and the New York Times are teaming up with Mozilla and OpenNews to build a next-generation community platform for news. As the Washington Post’s Greg Barber writes, they’re bringing two Knight-Mozilla fellows into the New York-based team as well:
One thing we know for sure is that we want Knight-Mozilla Fellows with us, doing what they do best: experimenting and breaking boundaries. We want fellows to push the work our core team is doing in new directions, to think of things we haven’t, to be independent operators within this deeply collaborative project.
Vox Media sees their fellow as someone that can bridge their seven media sites and help “open source the elements that would be beneficial to the larger journalism community.” Writes Chief Product Officer Trei Brundrett:
We have benefited greatly from open source as we have aggressively built a media company from scratch. Now we’re eager to give back as an active member of the OpenNews community. This year at our hack week, VAX, we kicked off the process by making it easier for our teams to share our work with the open news community and releasing some code, but there is still much left to do. We want you to help us shape that commitment.
We work with many graphic designers and have featured their incredible work. But we’ve never had anyone dedicated to making our reporting and data analysis really shine. When it comes to news apps, we’ve been pretty good at faking it, but we know that we can really up our game.
We need to be able to tell readers things they don’t already know and are actually worth knowing. We need your help to communicate that information more effectively. We’ll challenge you to help users understand complex concepts and help us understand the best way to distill millions of relevant records into a compelling presentation.
In Buenos Aires, La Nacion’s data team is “motivated by the possibility to produce changes with our work, using technology to open data, especially in a country where there is no transparency law and with high levels of corruption,” explains data manager Momi Peralta Ramos. Their fellow would join their team in opening datasets and making them accessible to the Argentinian people. As their whole team explains in a subtitled video:
This week our former research call co-wrangler Emily joined us to share the current work in progress on Mozilla Badges and gather feedback from the community - you can contribute too! Keep reading to find out more about the proposed new site, set to soft launch on August 22, 2014.
Mozillians - those folks who work for Mozilla or are contributors to the project - currently lack a central hub for badge creation and exploration. Existing badging sites such as badges.mozilla.org is confusing in its current iteration, and as teams such as Webmaker and Hive develop their own badges, the need for a central badge site is becoming greater.
In response, Emily and a team at Mozilla have been looking into ways to support badging for products and teams within the Foundation.
The idea is for badges.mozilla.org to be revamped, and there was an audit of the existing site to uncover problematic areas and brainstorm solutions. After collecting issuer and prospective earner feedback, and collaborating with a visual designer, engineers, and metrics lead, wireframes for the proposed new site have been developed and are on Redpen, a collaborative tool that allows for clickable feedback.
Badge issuing vs. earning
In determining the new site’s purpose, current site analytics indicated that only small percentage of users were coming to issue badges, with most seeking ways to earn badges. This led to a redirected focus on badge discovery and exploration, with issuing as a secondary feature.
Below is a list of the wireframes for the new site - take a look around and leave your comments and questions by clicking on the pages.
Bear in mind there is still placeholder text on these pages, and colors, etc. are not finalized yet - these are to give a sense of what the site will be for, so feedback on any of the following wireframes is much appreciated.
Reach out directly to Emily via email or Twitter with questions.
Nate Otto, Project Coordinator for the Badges Design Principles Documentation Project and active badges community member / superstar, responds to this week’s release of a 213 page report from a cross-disciplinary MIT task force investigating the future of education at MIT. The report makes 16 recommendations, including to commit to further innovation in pedagogy.
Nate’s guest post on his colleague Dan Hickey's blog makes the connection between modularization and self-directed, flexible learning pathways, and also observes that supporting faculty (and learners) in the modularization of their course content can be further facilitated or scaffolded with badges:
Badges allow learners to tell a story about their experience, customized to be appropriate to the audience. If each student going into a module brings a collection of previously earned badges with her when she applies, the module can read that badge collection and collect aggregate information about what prior experiences students thought were relevant in preparing them to take on that particular module. If a system presented this information at the points where students make their decisions about where to focus their efforts, it would feed organization back into a landscape no longer mapped out in courses. When prospective students are entering a field, each module can tell them what other modules are recommended as related or prerequisite.
The recent announcement by Udacity to offer nano-degrees really got me thinking. It’s, of course, a new word - a hip and buzzworthy word especially with the geeky crowd (nano!). So now we’ll add that to the list beside credential, badge, microcredential, certification, certificate, pathway, industry-recognized credential, points, and probably more that I’m missing.
Let’s face it, the alternative credentialing space, as its called (words that don’t have consistent meaning themselves), is hot right now. Policy changes and exemplars like SNHU have opened the gates for more types of learning and more recognition that matters to employers and other stakeholders beyond the degree. It makes sense that there are a lot of players jumping at the opportunity to leverage the potential openings, make an impact, get a piece of the pie.
But I think we are really at risk of failing ourselves, and more importantly, the learners, if we segment too early.
Names are just words, but words really matter. If we start calling each project something different, not only are we confusing people and holding ourselves back from showing the true size and power of this work, but we are designing from the beginning, even if unintentionally, for NON-interoperability. Or should I say outeroperability or extraoperability (see, I can make up words too!)
What we’ve learned over and over, is that to really influence systematic change in learning, you need an ecosystem. To do this at the scale we all talk about, we need interoperability and connectedness across lots of organizations and stakeholders. We need need providers and contributors, with their own personal agendas, to be able to do their work, but in a way that feeds into a broader context. Otherwise, we’re designing more prescribed pathways that only touch a certain set of learners. Silos might impact a small segment, but will not lead to systematic change. In so doing, we’re limiting learners’ agency and limiting our own success.
Words really matter to people. In many occasions, I’ve gotten some scowls and exasperated comments when I assert that a badge is a credential. To many, a credential is a very specific thing and the implication is that we’re hurting ourselves and the effort by using that word. A quick look on dictionary.com returned the following:
#2 is the ticket here. Anything that can tell us something about someone with confidence. That’s definitely what we mean by ‘badge” and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Udacity means by ‘nanodegree’ and MIT means by ‘degree’. Again, I’m not trying to be naive or ignore the obvious nuances and need for validity and assurance here, but just trying to point out that the words are really not as different as we think they are. Or if they are supposed to be, then we’re doing a really bad job explaining why they are different and need to be different.
I’m not necessarily saying that ‘badge’ should be the word for everything. Or maybe I am. I personally think it could be, b/c a badge is simply an evidence-based digital record of something. That something could be a single skill, or a higher order collection of skills that represents something more like what we now call certification. I think badges can represent low stakes, informal learning experiences, as well as high stakes, stacked skills/competencies (nanodegrees are just sets of badges, no?). It’s simply more information that we need to put into each badge to distinguish. There may be should be different types of badges like skill badges or certification badges to help distinguish and evaluate. But whether you agree with that or not, most importantly, I’m saying, let’s all agree we’re working with the same low level thing so that we can design for interoperability from the beginning at the bottom…still leaving lots of room for innovation and customization at the top, with the market, but making sure all of this great work is connected for the learners, for the ecosystem, for us.
Many of you might be thinking, ‘Wait, didn’t you make up a new word too? Why ‘badge’? Why not just call it a credential?" You don’t miss a thing, do you? :) Back a few years ago, the term ‘badge’ was something that was building on all of the interest and usage of digital badges in the social and game space at that time. We started this work at a time when the concept of alternative credentialing was only a few whispers in hallways, and the audacious statement made then was what if we used these digital badges, these digital records, as learning credentials. Again, words matter. I think it was important then to have a different word to start that conversation, which it certainly did, but now that there is momentum, adoption and interest, we’re at a time when its important to use the same words, or at least again, agree on which words we’re using for what.
I think the first step is being intentional and consistent with how we define a badge, and how these other terms are defined and used as well so that we can make a conscious decision together about what words to use and be clear about how it all fits together. Luckily the Messaging WG is tackling this head on and in addition to building talking points for key audiences, also developing a glossary of terms in the alternative credentialing space.
If you’d like to contribute to that effort, please sign up for the working group at badgealliance.org. You’ll be added to the mailing list, where you can post opinions and thoughts on this important matter and we can work it out together. Also, don’t hesitate to shoot me a note or post a comment here.
I guarantee that we’ll never settle on a word or words that everyone agrees with. But I am sure that we are all after the same thing and that we have enough of the right minds and perspectives at the table to make some conscious decisions on how to leverage each other and make the most impact. We have to design interoperability in from the beginning and that starts with the words we choose.
I’m quite pleased to point you to a new online learning experience being put together by a group of amazing educators from the Connected Learning community. Starting September 15th we’re going to be talking about openness and blended learning in a 12 week course that aims to help people run their own connected courses. It’s meta! I love meta.
The coursework will help you understand how we work in the digital space by demystifying the tools and trade of openness. We’ll explore why you might run a Connectivist learning experience, how to get started, how to connect online and offline participants, and how to MAKE things that support this kind of learning.
We’ll talk about building networks, maintaining networks, diversifying networks and living and working in a connected space. We’ll learn together, share ideas and start making action plans for our own connected courses.
You might understand, based on the above, why I’m excited about this. For the past couple of years I’ve been learning how to run connected courses, and I’ve been looking to people like the organizers of Connected Courses for advice, best practices and support. I’ve learned so much about how open online learning can activate and inspire people, and I’ve spent loads of time trying to understand the hows and whys in order to make Webmaker’s #TeachTheWeb program a sustainable engine of learning and support for our community. This course aims to simplify many of the trials and tribulations I’ve had organizing in this educational space, so that anyone can run these experiences and join in on open culture.
Everyone is welcome and no experience is required. The first unit starts on September 15th, but you can sign up now and find more details about the topics we'll be exploring at http://connectedcourses.org
See you there!
We are under two weeks until the end of our search for our 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows. If you love to code and want to spend ten months having an impact in journalism, you should apply.
Of course, you may have questions about what being a fellow is actually *like*, and so the last two weeks, our current Fellows have written about their experiences. Each experience—like each one of our fellows—is different, and the takeaways are unique. The Knight-Mozilla Fellowships are about writing great open-source code, but they are also about so much more. And what that is, is up to you.
Harlo Holmes, who has spent her fellowship year at the New York Times likens becoming a fellow to “Scrooge McDuck taking a swim in his vault.” Except in this case, the vault isn’t filled with money but instead “a veritable treasure trove of code libraries, frankenstein-y demos and PoCs, and wacky ideas.”
I know so much more than I did half a year ago, and have so many more people and communities I can learn from. I may not be in school anymore, but I’m certainly a student. Today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my career, I will be learning every day, and I’m figuring out out how to life-long-learn because of this stupendous, magical, yes-it’s-really-that-great fellowship
For Gabriella Rodriguez, her fellowship at La Nacion—which involved moving her entire family of four from Portland, Oregon to Buenos Aires, Argentina—has been “una aventura!" Gaba has been focused on bringing more voices into journalism, she explains in Spanish, through her work on the VozData project, and by organizing “cafés de DATA” with the civic hacker community across the Rio de la Plata in Montevideo, Uruquay.
I’m working on a project that involves visualizing NASA data, integrating with repositories of satellite imagery, processing it in Photoshop, in the command-line, making it interactive in a news application, helping to create what I hope will be something really beautiful and worthwhile to explore. Working with data from space is basically the coolest thing I could be doing right now. Did I expect to be doing this? Not really. All I did was follow my interests, because I have less of a job description and more of a general mandate to work with incredibly smart people and make interesting things.
Marcos Vanetta moved from Buenos Aires to Austin, Texas for his fellowship year at the Texas Tribune. His first time in America, and his first time in a newsroom, he has adapted quickly. He writes in Spanish that after only four months, he’s writing software and participating in projects that are visited by thousands of people every day.
Some of the more tacit benefits are nearly impossible to articulate without being gushy. It’s the stranger famery you’ll experience in the news community that clashes with your impulse to imposter syndrome; the kind where you’ll get requests to collaborate on projects from strangers instead of just your friends. Pre-fellowship, I never really had comments on my Github projects and my public code persona was pretty weak; 5 months in, I get regular email about blog posts I’ve written and repos I’ve open-sourced.
Each of our current fellows has had a singular experience. They have learned more about journalism, more about their coding skills, and more about working with others, and about themselves. As Ben Chartoff says in his post, “This fellowship has already changed my life.”
Before any word, let's make some noise. You can play yourself with this demo clicking here.
This simple demo was presented by Forrest in his last Assembly
illustrates how we are combining audio and visuals in NoFlo.
It uses noflo-webaudio, our
wrapper library to the Web Audio API. Web Audio
API defines a
"signal-flow graph" where audio sources connect to processors and can be
manipulated on a sample-accurate base. How to map such "signal-flow graph" to
NoFlo? Having worked with noflo-canvas
we wanted to explore if the same design and semantics used on it could work
with Web Audio.
In noflo-canvas, each component
generates lispy commands that are lazy-evaluated in a complex component
(Draw). We are doing the same for noflo-webaudio. In this way, we have
some components like Oscillator and Gain that sends lispy commands
like the following:
Each time a component input (like Oscillator's frequency) changes, it
sends an updated command as its output. The Play component gets all those
commands and takes care of how to plug them together and update the parameters
The major difference is that noflo-canvas follows a "redraw the entire canvas everytime" paradigm while noflo-webaudio can't reconnect all the
audio nodes everytime: most of the time the audio graph doesn't change, just
the parameters. So Play should be smart enough to walk through the
received commands and decide which should be reconnected (like Oscillators and
AudioFile) and which should have just its parameter updated.
The JSON representation of such signal-flow graphs remembers a declarative
paradigm. We are exploring a Web Audio library called
Flocking which makes possible to define signal-flow
graphs in a declarative way that maps directly in the way we are dealing with
noflo-canvas and noflo-webaudio for now. So we should
have a usable noflo-flocking
We already have support for Web Audio API in Android and iOS devices
so we can expect mobile music instruments in NoFlo in the near future!
We started the noflo-three
components library to Three.js during this time too. We hope the same design we used for noflo-webaudio can be applied to a scene graph like that used in
Three.js. We are also making some nice generative stuff
with noflo-canvas that we will love to
Like many people, I wasn't really aware of the potential impact that opposers of Net Neutrality could have, or for that matter what net neutrality was, until I was introduced to the topic by John Oliver on his tv show Last Week Tonight. After hearing his explanation and comedic rant, I started to learn more about net neutrality. My colleague, David Steer explains net neutrality as the opinion that
"Data, regardless of who it is from or who is receiving it, is treated equally by Internet service providers."
I like to think of it as opening up the door for 2 internets - one that comes at a cost, and another that is free. Sounds fine, right? You're like .. ok what's the big deal? I'll just use the free one. But just like many other free services that you have used that all of a sudden put up features behind a paywall, your free offering becomes crap - cluttered with ads, slower to use and just a poor man's version of the prime real estate - this too will happen with the Web.
I believe that this issue is the most important topic for web users (globally), because without the neutral infrastructure of the internet, many freedoms that we take for granted in this hand crafted community - such as speech - become compromised in a privileged and gated web. Opposition to net neutrality threatens democracy, participation and free speech. But this isn't a hopeless cause, there is actually something proactive that you can do to protect the Web that you love: you can learn more about Net Neutrality and explain it's importance to your small circle of the world why it's important. The goal is to create an educated groundswell that will be able to defend the open web.
Superheroes for Net Neutrality: Calling all Superheroes! The Legion of Thorn has created 2 Webs - resulting in a dystopian state. Avenge them and defend Net Neutrality by crafting a league of superheroes to join Team Web, and remix a comic book webpage to show how they use their superpowers to save the day.
The folks at Hive are going to be recognizing the individuals who contribute to Hive’s growth and success with the Hive Community Member badge - learn more here;
Robert Friedman, Portfolio Strategist for Mozilla / Hive Chicago, joined the community call to talk about the work that went into the new Hive badge and share some next steps with us. See a summary here;
Dr. Bernard Bull - ever the prolific blogging badger - wrote a great intro. post exploring the oft-used comparison of open badges to Scout badges - read it here;
This week we were joined by Robert Friedman, Portfolio Strategist for Mozilla / Hive Chicago, who shared the work behind the recently announced Hive Community Member badge. Slides from his presentation can be found here.
Hive Learning Networks are a growing constellation of communities that are championing digital skills and web literacy through connected learning around the world. The folks at Hive are starting to recognize the individuals who contribute to Hive’s growth and success with the Hive Community Member badge on webmaker.org - around 400 Hive contributors have already been awarded the badge!
“Hive badges will serve as an essential tool to drive the adoption of connected learning practices by Hive educators.”
The Hive team started working towards developing community badges at the Summit to Reconnect Learning (SRL) in February, where the Badge Alliance launched and Hive Global made a commitment to launch a series of educator badges.
Hive leaders knew their badges would be about connected learning in educational spaces, but the didn’t want to pursue badging and assessing student work, nor did they want to badge service providers for their work either - in many cases, Hive can’t claim to provide the specific, focused professional development support that would support badges.
Hive communities create environments where connected learning and professional development can happen in a peer-to-peer fashion. This important part of the Hive’s work is where the team focused their attention, and the badges became more about the way Hive communities function, rather than the work done by its members.
As many badge designers have discovered, the Hive leaders and community addressed the question of badge value, asking “How are badges an important tool for connected learning?”
Something the team explored was the fact that youth are motivated by different things than adults, which means that adult badge designers sometimes create badges ‘for youth’ that in fact impose adult motivators on youth. For example, adults don’t usually respond to the concept of “unlocking” rewards or additional opportunities, as youth do, but are more interested in defining what membership in the Hive meant, and gaining recognition for participation.
This desire for recognition of participation and membership is where the badge comes in, as an important tool for community- and identity-building within the Hive’s connected learning and professional development communities.
Connected learning for professionals
At the Summit, the Hive leaders unpacked the meaning of connected learning for professionals, and found the principle of Hive being “openly networked” resonated with many team members. By digging into this principle more deeply, Hive leaders identified three key elements that became the main criteria for the badge:
Peer observation: inviting peers to observe programs and practices;
Resource sharing: clearly articulating resources that can be shared;
Process documentation: documenting and sharing for others to remix
learning and development community
process of creating the first badge has better informed Hive team for creating a better (more valuable) badge system
Hive leaders worked closely with the Webmaker team to develop badges for Webmaker as well as this first Hive badge; as a result, Hive became a major driver of the Webmaker community and helped shape how badges are claimed, issued and displayed.
Moving forward, the team will be tracking badges issued and claimed, to help inform and scope out a trajectory for a more robust badge ecosystem. They’ll also revisit the Community Member badge, breaking it down and digging deeper to recognize more of their community’s contributions, including giving people the option to issue badges for peer recognition.
Long term plans include leveraging the wider connected learning community to see where Hive can impact educator badges on a broader scale - including participating in the Badge Alliance Working Group on Badges for Educators and Professional Development.
The Cities of Learning (CoL) is a nationwide movement to leverage community and government resources, turning a whole city into a campus for year-round learning, offering free or low-cost opportunities for youth to learn online or participate in programming at parks, libraries, museums and other institutions. Whether through robotics, fashion design, coding competitions or workplace internships, Cities of Learning provide an array of engaging opportunities for young people to explore new interests, develop their talents, and create unique pathways toward college or a career.
Megan Cole, Director of Marketing + Operations at the Badge Alliance, has been coordinating efforts across the six 2014 Cities of Learning, and brought representatives from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas to this week’s MOOC session to share their thoughts. Carla Casilli, Director of Design + Practice, led Monday’s session of the #openbadgesMOOC, New Currency for Professional Credentials.
A nationwide movement for connected learning
Chicago launched the Cities of Learning movement in 2013 with the successful summer pilot program, Chicago Summer of Learning. Over 100 organizations offered activities to Chicago’s youth on and offline, issuing over 100,000 badges through the course of the summer. This year, Chicago has expanded its summer learning into a year-round initiative, the chicago City of Learning (CCOL), and five other cities will be implementing citywide badged learning programs - Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Still more are making plans to join in 2015 (read more).
The Cities of Learning are designed around the principles of Connected Learning, an approach that builds on the basics, leveraging technology to make learning relevant to the demands and opportunities of the digital age. Connected Learning increases engagement by linking in-school academics to a learner’s out-of-school interests, by fostering supportive networks of peers and mentors, and by creating opportunities for youth to make and produce things in the real world.
Local funding and logistical support for each City of Learning are provided by broad and often unprecedented coalitions, bringing together cross-sector partners such as the mayor’s office, the school district, nonprofits, institutional funders and out-of-school educational providers. The national efforts are supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Badge Alliance, and DePaul University.
Nichole Pinkard and Sybil Madison-Boyd of the Digital Youth Network (DYN) shared some of the lessons learned in Chicago from last year’s pilot.
The Chicago Mayor’s office first started exploring a summer learning initiative to avoid the learning loss described as ‘brain drain’ or ‘summer slump’ that many schools see in September after students have spent the summer months out of school. In Chicago, the Mayor’s office drove the program, bringing together over 100 community organizations and institutions to engage youth in fun activities that kept them actively involved in learning environments that exist outside their classrooms.
Chicago is now on its second year of citywide learning and its reach has expanded to 200,000+ youth. More than 1,000 youth programs in the STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) are being offered by the 120+ organizations participating in CCOL, including on-the-job learning opportunities.
Digital badges earned by youth in Chicago become “tools for connected learning,” according to Sybil. The badges allow youth and their mentors / teachers to track progress and illustrate a learning pathway, as well as play a role in identity-building and skills-sharing, empowering youth to pursue further education and career opportunities within their city - and beyond.
Erin Offord, Director of Community Relations at Big Thought, joined us to talk about the work coming out of the Dallas City of Learning.
The Dallas offerings, which aim to reach 10,000 youth this year, include a number of online and in-person activities in earth science, design, sport, coding, and more from over 50 partner organizations.
The team behind the Dallas initiative is focusing their programming on equal access, ensuring their big city can act as a navigable campus for youth to engage in learning activities wherever they are.
They’ve been receiving positive feedback for the digital learning components of the program, and offered training for their partner organizations to introduce them to digital badges and make sure they were ready to develop and issue badges for the activities they’re offering. The conversations that began in those training sessions have shaped some of the national conversation as well, pushing for a youth-centric approach that is innovative and engaging for the kids participating in these programs.
Erin sees great potential for expansion in the Dallas partner organizations when it comes to the digital elements - even those unfamiliar with badges left the training ready to badge the city’s activities.
Luis Mora, an administrator at Beyond the Bell, joined us to share some of the work going into the LA Summer of Learning.
The LA programming aims to offer 50,000 youth opportunities and access to activities in robotics, fashion, astronomy, and more.
Like the other Cities of Learning, Luis and the folks at Beyond the Bell are looking at Los Angeles as a campus for learning - but unlike other cities, LA is placing special emphasis on workforce readiness. Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy are challenging youth between the ages of 16 and 24 the opportunity to become workforce ready this summer, and the LA Summer of Learning is helping youth access opportunities that develop workforce skills and prepare them for life beyond graduation.
By earning five workforce readiness badges - in Basic Job Skills, Résumé Building, Financial Literacy, Interview Skills, and Job Application - youth can unlock the Workforce Ready Challenge Badge, as well as entry to the LA Chamber of Commerce’s “Work Ready Certification Badge” and the opportunity to unlock jobs.
Hive Learning Networks are a growing constellation of communities that are championing digital skills and web literacy through connected learning around the world. We’re excited to share the news that the folks at Hive are going to be recognizing the individuals who contribute to Hive’s growth and success with the Hive Community Member badge on webmaker.org.
It’s the first in a coming series of Hive badges, and you can learn more over on the Webmaker blog or by joining the Open Badges Community Project Call at 12pm EDT today (7/30) to hear from Robert Friedman, the one who has been leading these badging efforts from Mozilla / Hive Chicago.
At Mozilla, we exist to protect the free and open web. Today, that openness and freedom is under threat.
The open Internet’s founding principle is under attack. Policymakers in the U.S. are considering rules that would erase “Net Neutrality,” the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally. If these rule changes go through, many fear it will create a “two-tier” Internet, where monopolies are able to charge huge fees for special “fast lanes” while everyone else gets the slow lane. This would threaten the very openness, level playing field and innovation that make the web great — not only in the U.S., but around the world.
Using the open web to save the open web
This is a crucial moment that will affect the open web’s future. But not enough people know about it or understand what’s at stake. Net Neutrality’s opponents are banking on the fact that Net Neutrality is so “geeky,” complex, and hard to explain that people just won’t care. That’s why Mozilla is inviting you to join us and other Internet Freedom organizations to educate, empower, organize and win.
Local “teach-ins” around the world…
Join the global Mozilla community and our partners to host a series of Internet Freedom “teach-ins” around the world. Beginning Aug 4th, we’re offering free training to help empower local organizers, activists and people like you. Together we’ll share best practices for explaining what Net Neutrality is, why it matters to your local community, and how we can protect it together. Then we’ll help local organizers like you host local events and teach-ins around the world, sharing tools and increasing our impact together.
…plus global action
In addition to increasing awareness of the importance of Net Neutrality, the teach-ins will also allow participants to have an impact by taking immediate action. Imagine hundreds of videos in support of #TeamInternet and Net Neutrality, thousands of letters to the editor, and thousands of new signatures on Mozilla’s petition.
We’ll be joined by partners like Reddit, Free Press, Open Media, IMLS / ALA, Media Alliance Every Library and Engine Advocacy.
2) Get free training and help. Need a little help? We’ll tell you everything you need to know. From free resources and best practices for talking about Net Neutrality to nuts and bolts logistics and organizing. The free and open online training begins Monday, Aug 4th. All are welcome, no experience necessary.You’ll leave the training armed with everything you need to host your own local teach-in. Or just better explain the issue to friends and family.
We’ve had a busy week, prepping for SXSWedu 2015 (did you hear? The deadline was extended!) and next week’s live session of the Open Badges MOOC - Meg, the Badge Alliance Director of Marketing and Operations, will be leading a discussion on the Cities of Learning initiative with cities representatives. Read more details at badges.coursesites.com
What else went on this week?
On this week's community project call, Frank Catalano shared some top-line industry recommendations detailed in a recent paper he was commissioned to write for education companies - read an overview here;
Carla Casilli, the Badge Alliance’s director of design and practice, is leading efforts for our wider community to collaborate on developing a campus / school policy for badges - read more in the community call summary or listen to the audio recording;
Our technical writer Sue Smith is a superstar - check out some of the updated documentation she’s worked on in recent weeks here;
This week we were joined by Frank Catalano, who was recently commissioned by MDR's EdNET Insight service to write an extensive analysis of badges for education companies, as well as the Badge Alliance's Director of Design & Practice, Carla, who is kicking off a community-wide project to develop a campus policy for open badges (more details on how to get involved below.)
Although his paper is not intended for a general audience, Frank’s experience helped highlight some of the challenges still to be overcome as we work towards integrating badges into more education environments. A (free) overview of his paper can be found on EdNET Insight here with Frank’s top-line industry recommendations.
Challenges still facing the ecosystem
Frank shared his analysis of some of the biggest challenges facing those education companies wishing to bring badges into learning environments, starting with terminology, which is still a major tripping point for many being introduced to badges, who find terms such as ‘badge’ and ‘backpack’ juvenile or trivializing compared to the value that can be found in badges once the concept is fully understood.
As Carla pointed out during the call, language is complex and doesn’t always translate across boundaries, whether industrial or geographic. To that end, the Badge Alliance will be initiating collaborativework on a document that helps us translate badging concepts and terminology to other geographic regions and industries.
The question of an open ecosystem vs. keeping badges in silos also arose - some companies prefer to keep their badges in a closed system, for a variety of reasons, and until the need for an open, interoperable ecosystem reached a critical tipping point, it is likely that we will continue to see growth on both sides of this.
For many, Frank saw as he was conducting his research, badges are a nice addition to existing services, rather than a ‘must-have’ feature - and for others, there is still a lack of a basic understanding of open badges, which is a knowledge gap his paper aims to help close for the education companies his analysis was commissioned for. This paper puts badging in terminology that education companies understand, which will both inform those companies and provide a reference point for our ongoing work to ‘translate’ badging across sectors and continents.
Badges for campus initiatives
Another education landscape that will need concentrated efforts across the board is campus-wide badge policies others can model and build from. Carla Casilli, the director of design and practice at the Badge Alliance, is leading efforts for our wider community to collaborate on developing a campus / school policy for badges - contact her directly if you’d like to get involved via email: email@example.com
If there are other areas you think would benefit from policy work, why not join the Badge Alliance Working Group on Policy? Go to http://bit.ly/BA-Policy-WG to apply.
If you have a badges project to share with the community - big or small - let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the schedule.
We’ve been busy preparing our badges-themed session submissions this week, so we’re happy to share the good news: the deadline has been extended!
That’s right, you have until 11:59PM CST this Sunday, July 27 to finalize and submit your idea to be considered for SXSWedu 2015.
Before you click the “Submit My Proposal” button, be sure to:
1. Review the 2015 Session Starter Kit for a detailed step-by-step guide through the submission form, equipped with audience demographics and helpful tips on how to shape your best idea. 2. Proof read every portion of your proposal for proper spelling and grammar, as well as accuracy. 4. Click the “Save and Continue” button at the bottom of each section if you make any changes. 5. Check all the boxes on the “Agreements” page and utilize the “Review my Proposal” option on that same page. Once you click the “Submit My Proposal” button, you will no longer be able to make changes to your proposal.
Dr. Bernard Bull, who led the Beyond Letter Grades MOOC, is currently designing a set of graduate courses around badges and writes about credentialing, assessment, and the future of education and learning on his blog, Etale. In a recent blog post, Dr. Bull made 5 predictions about the educational credentialing landscape in 2024 - have a look at them below.
1. Unbundled Education – Education will become increasingly unbundled and aggregated across networks and contexts. This will give way to increased grass-roots educational initiatives, the capacity for learners to self-blend learning experiences from multiple sources and organizations, and cross-organizational credentials. Highly regulated sectors and those with strong centralized professional organizations and standards will be most insulated from some of this. It will lead to significant turmoil and disruption in many higher education institutions.
2. Networked Learning will become a fundamental life and work skill. While the most regulated industries will be more insulated, there will be significant conflict between democratizing and authoritarian models of education and training. Regardless, a fundamental aspect of lifelong learning will be the development, maintenance and ongoing expansion of a personal learning network. Related to this, we will see massive formal learning networks within geographic areas, specific fields and professions, and other distinct physical or virtual communities.
3. For many professions and trades, competency-based education and assessment will largely replace assessment of readiness through traditional letter grade systems, GPAs and similar measures. Systems like traditional letter grades will be phased out with the emergence of more accurate and granular measures of learner progress and competence. This will impact both initial training and continuing education.
4. Depending upon the context, alternate and micro-credentialing systems will replace or supplement letter grades, course, credits, and degrees (but the most regulated industries will be more insulated from this disruption). These emerging credentialing systems will have features like expiration dates and detailed information about the criteria met to earn the credential.
5. Educational experiences will provide significant learner control and/or learner-specific adjustments of time, place, pace and learning pathway. As part of this, adaptive learning and robust learning progression designs will replace many industrial or one-size-fits all models of education and training. For better or worse, with the maturity of adaptive learning tools, there will be a renewed and invigorated battle between the “science of teaching and learning” and the “art of teaching and learning.” Learning analytics and big data will drive the design of high-impact, competency-based individualized learning experiences.
Here’s a quick run-down of what happened this week:
The Badge Alliance led this week’s community call, taking advantage of a gap in the presentation schedule to update the community on some of what’s been happening in the Working Groups, and in the Alliance as a whole. For more details, check out the summary and audio recording
A recent Internships.com survey highlights workforce skills that digital badges could help employers identify - read more here
The Mozilla Webmaker team have been testing new Web Literacy 'maker' badges, and are now moving on to test the ability for Webmaker Mentors and Super Mentors to issue them - read more on the Webmaker blog
We hope everyone has a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week!
In order to execute on products that work, you have to force yourself to learn about processes and history and key players for topics you previously knew nothing about. Working in a newsroom with journalists is like going back to school, but more fun (there’s often a lot more cursing and whiskey and no tests except whether you’ve met the user’s needs).
Another of Lauren’s reasons hits hard at why *I* do this work: the ability to solve new problems:
The information industry has come far in recent years in evolving how we do storytelling in a digital world, but there’s still so much more to do, so much more progress to make, so many more problems to solve. This is a world that has immense and ever-growing potential at building the kinds of information solutions that help people live richer, more informed lives. And you can be a part of that. You can shape that. You can lead that. We need more leaders in this space.
I build for news because I’m building for myself. News and information, learning and knowledge is an extremely important part of my life. The free flow of knowledge that the internet has made possible has brought me happiness, wonder and purpose. I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it.
The application to apply to become a 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellow is open until August 16. If you love to code, want to learn new things, challenge yourself, and help make information more open, you should apply today.
This week, the Badge Alliance led the community call, taking advantage of a gap in the presentation schedule to update the community on some of what’s been happening in the Working Groups, and in the Alliance as a whole.
Badge Alliance Marketing Director Megan Cole joined us to give an overview of what the Badge Alliance has been doing since launching in February, as well as a few hints of what’s to come in September, when the first working cycle comes to an end and the second kicks off.
We also heard from other members of the Badge Alliance team as well as members of the Badge Alliance community working in leadership roles within the Working Groups.
A new and shiny website
The Badge Alliance unveiled their new website in June. Still in Phase 1, the website offers some introductory information about badges, the Alliance, and the Working Groups, as well as a sign-up form to participate in the groups.
Constellation Model for Social Change
The Badge Alliance is framed on the Constellation Model for Social Change, seating the work in a set of focused working groups that are working towards specific goals in particular areas of the badging ecosystem - such as higher education, cities, and digital literacy - and the infrastructure - including endorsement, research, and policy.
The work is done in cycles of six months, encouraging focused, engaged work towards both short-term and more wide-reaching goals, as well as providing the flexibility to adapt as the needs and landscape of the ecosystem change.
There are currently 11 open Working Groups for this first working cycle, each of which is stewarded by a Badge Alliance Liaison, a member of the BA team who ensures their groups are meeting goals, makes connections across groups, and points them to useful resources or others working on similar projects.
Working Group Highlights
During the call, we heard from three working groups:
Messaging - focused on looking at the various ways to present badges to different audiences
For its first cycle, the Messaging Working Group is focusing on fine-tuning and increasing the amount of Open Badges marketing and educational resources available. Details can be found on the groups wiki page.
For its first cycle, the Cities Working Group is focusing on building the national Cities of Learning brand, increasing the number of cities participating in the initiative and documenting efforts. Details can be found on the groups wiki page.
One month from today, August 16, the search for our 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellows will come to a close. Knight-Mozilla Fellows do amazing work—they spend 10 months embedded in newsrooms writing code to help solve journalistic problems—but they don’t do that work alone. When you become a Knight-Mozilla Fellow, you join two communities: a community of fellows (both your peers and alumn from the program), and a community of developers working in the newsroom.
To mark this final month of our 2015 Fellowship search, we’ve invited a lot of voices to talk about their experiences coding in the newsroom. Later in the month you’ll hear from our fellows (both current and past) and our news parnters as well. But this week we’re going to hear from the community of developers currently doing this work in newsrooms big and small around the world.
The developer community in journalism is a dynamic one, and there isn’t one single reason anyone decides to start coding in a newsroom instead of a startup or in the enterprise. Instead, developers start coding in newsrooms for all sorts of reasons.
This week (as we’ve donein the past), we’ve asked developers to share their reasons and experiences with you. These stories—we’ll share a few a day—are wonderful; each one a unique argument to join a singular community.
We’ve got stacks of interesting structured data aching to be investigated and summarized. Our reporters are staring down the federal government, tracking people who are otherwise invisible and watching the epidemics most people don’t even know about.
I develop in a newsroom because, honestly, it’s just plain fun.
On any given day you may have to write a web crawler to harvest crime logs from your local law enforcement agency or use Mechanical Turk to crowdsource analysis of PDFs you received from a public records request.
On other days you’ll need a better map than Google offers and end up making creating your own slippy map tile set. Or you may start picking up libraries like pandas and SPSS to do some serious data analysis on a 25 GB data dump you’re trying to clean in another Terminal window.
Needless to say, you’ll stay busy and you’ll become a better developer than you ever thought.
We’ve got some exciting news from across the pond:
The UK Minister for Skills recently commissioned the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) to identify obstacles preventing further education providers taking full advantage of technology including Open Badges - and in particular to investigate the barriers placed in the way by regulatory bodies, funding bodies and awarding organizations. The group’s recommendations were designed to remove these obstacles, and encourage the further education system towards the digital future expected by learners and employers.
"We believe in the power of technology to transform education. From disruptive technologies like Open Badges, through to better use of technology to improve the teaching and learning experience, digital adoption can improve standards. Technology can make teaching more engaging for learners and more fulfilling for teachers. Technology empowers good teachers.
In broad terms, the conferring of an Open Badge on a learner is similar to the award of a qualification certificate, and the same quality standards must be ensured. The emerging opportunities offered by Open Badges in the areas of peer assessment, employer partnership, learning analytics and the engagement of learners means that it should be considered in learning technology at various levels. We will encourage Awarding Organisations, Ofqual and Ofsted to be aware of the potential of this technology.”
The full report and Government response is available here.
Six weeks ago, Atul Varma, Chris Lawrence, Kat Baybrooke and I embarked on an experiment we call Hive Labs. Let me tell you about, Let me show you a little slideshow I made about our first 6 weeks to the tune of Josh Gad singing In Summer from the movie Frozen.
So, in summary (or if you aren't the musical slideshare type) the first 6 weeks have been great. We did a bunch of listening and research, including attending events and hackjams run by and for Hive members. Here's a neat worksheet from a Mouse run Webmaker training in New York. We did some research and design on tools and resources to support prototyping:
Sherpa is a codename for a tool that helps prototypers define a design opportunity and openly work through the process for designing a solution. We designed some mockups to see if this is a direction that we should pursue. Sherpa could be a back-end for the "Cupcake dashboard" or be a stand alone tool. We spun up an instance of the "Cupcakes" dashboard designed by the Firefox UX team to help figure out if it is a useful tool to surface prototypes. We also prototyped a snippet for Firefox to promote Maker Party, worked on an idea for self guided Webmaking and began work on a Net Neutrality Teaching Kit. Finally, we've shipped some things:
The No-Fi Lo-Fi Teaching Kit asks participants the question how can we empower educators to teach the web in settings where connectivity isn't guaranteed?
With the Mobile Design Teaching Kit, participants play with, break apart and modify mobile apps in order to understand how they work as systems. This teaching kit is designed to explore a few activities that can be mixed and mashed into workshops for teens or adults who want to design mobile apps. Participants will tinker with paper prototyping, design mindmaps and program apps while learning basic design and webmaking concepts.
The first 6 weeks have been great, and we are going to continue to listen, create and deliver based on needs from the community. We have lots more to build. We want to do this incrementally, partly to release sooner, and partly to build momentum through repeated releases.
To help with Maker Party (launching today!) Mozilla has been working on a series of Web Literacy ‘maker’ badges. These will be issued to those who can make digital artifacts related to one or more competencies on the Web Literacy Map.
Read more about how you can help test these badges at the link above.
The post outlines Hive Learning Networks’ big ambitious goal (a modification of the Big Hairy Audacious Goal popular in business circles) and identifies the benchmarks that will be used to gauge our collective progress along the way. The Hive BHAG is an indication of the changing approach (and refreshing alignment) within what has been a very wide field of practice and observation. The action verbs used to describe Hive’s goals (mobilize, catalyze, create and grow) help to illustrate a shift towards a more growth oriented phase in our work. As a document, the BHAG both announces and performs several things that organizational consultant and information designer David Sibbet notes a sustainably-minded organization focused on broader use and adoption might do, namely:
Identify the strongest offering and market it heavily
The Hive BHAG proffers a vision of “ubiquitous connected learning.” It also proposes the route we might take to get there—by continuing to build and build upon the constellation of tools, curriculum, content and practices that we group underneath the large umbrella of Hive. What is Hive and what are “Hive-like” practices? The Hive Learning Networks Overview, and its twinned characteristics—collaborative/catalytic, equitable/accessible, engaging/participatory—feels as close as we have come to defining the utility and potential of Hive as a “demonstrated model” with local relevance and global connections.
While Hive’s BHAG looks forward, it also holds clues to where we as Hive (and as a field) have been. As someone who attended the first DML Conference back in 2010, Hive’s cohesion as a constellation of networks is indicative of a larger shift towards identifying and assessing the specific skills, competencies and practices that fuel how practitioners work with digital media and the web. The BHAG’s focus on connected learning and web literacy as the means to reach impact for Hive Learning Networks, is an example of a sharpened perspective being witnessed across the field in general. It joins several other recent efforts that together help to focus what has been a wide-ranging discourse. Other examples of larger shifts in perspective and renewed clarity of approach include the launch of the Connected Learning Alliance, emergence of the Badge Alliance, the new Explore and Resources features on the Mozilla Webmaker platform and the re-branding of the Pursuitery and Hive Learning Networks websites.
When I worked at the Institute of Play, we defined tools that helped learners to think and solve problems as “smart tools.” The apparatus could be as simple as a ruler or as complex as a line of code. For me, as a Hive Learning Network director, the Hive BHAG, the revamped Why Connected Learning? graphic and the Web Literacy Map are my current arsenal of tools to “think with.” Taken together, they have become trusty reference points to help navigate what Hive NYC is learning, making and testing all around me. While these accomplished maps and guides provide a much needed coherence and direction, they are still resolutely in development. To reach the ambitious goals of broad adoption and use, Connected Learning, Web Literacy and Hive’s BHAG, must be play-tested by Hive communities, exploring new approaches, circulating discoveries and sharing challenges from Hive’s unique perspective here on the ground.
Now that we have a working noflo-canvas it is time to try more complex shapes. Voronoi Diagram and Delaunay Triangulation are canonical algorithms from Computational Geometry and were made classic for generative art or creative coding. These algorithms are useful to create textures or meshes. In general, you can give them a set of points and Voronoi will create cells around your points. Delaunay will draw triangles for each possible triple of points, with non-crossing edges. This figure presents both Voronoi Diagram (in pink) and Delaunay Triangulation (in blue) for some random points (in yellow):
Other examples follow:
To better understand the Delaunay Triangulation, let's see an example. The following figure shows a triangulation for a set of points. Note the circumcircles around each possible triangle:
There's no points inside of any of the circumcircles: the points are located right in circumcircles' edges. You can try to find other triangles which points are not inside circumcircles, but you won't. Let me give you an example of a wrong triangle:
As you can see, the red points are inside the circumcircle of our green triangle, so it's not a valid triangle. That's what Delaunay Triangulation is about: for a given set of points, it finds all the triangles which points are not inside a circumcircle (formed by the triangles).
And what about Voronoi Diagram? There's many ways to understand what Voronoi algorithm is about, but there's an easy way now that we know Delaunay Triangulation. Voronoi is dual (or related) to Delaunay. If we connect the center points of all the triangle circumcircles obtained by the Delaunay Triangulation, we have the Voronoi Diagram!
The noflo-geometry implements both Voronoi and Delaunay algorithms. Being NoFlo a general purpose flow-based environment, it is a common approach to search for JS libraries which implements what you want and encapsulate them as a bunch of components. For noflo-geometry we used libraries by @ironwallaby and @gorhill, and thanks to NoFlo now you can use both as components with a common interface, at the same environment:
Here are some examples of tessellations generated by the Voronoi and Delaunay component:
There’s been lots of activity this week. Members of the Badge Alliance Team were in Boston to meet with their Tech Council to consider the future of the technology that underpins Open Badges - more to come from that in the next week or two.
Lots of folks have been speaking and writing about badges this week too:
Grant MacDonald, an academic at Don College in Australia, has discovered badges and been writing about them on his blog - including a suggested taxonomy for badges in education - as well as developing and issuing badges to faculty!
An exciting announcement from the folks at ForAllRubrics: this Sunday, July 13th, they will combine all of the capabilities of the current versions of both ForAllRubrics and ForAllBadges into one integrated Rubric & Badging platform - read more here.
We’ll catch up with you all next week - have a great weekend, everyone!
This week we were joined by Bill Beazley, who also presented on Tuesday’s Badge Alliance call for the Workforce Working Group (notes here). Bill leads Piping Design U, a portal “dedicated to providing affordable piping design training and credentialing,” established by Information Assets, Inc.
Piping Design U recently announced its planned list of badges for its piping design training modules, and Bill joined us to share how he developed the badges, some lessons learned, and offer his thoughts on why badges are a particularly good fit for the kind of training offered by Piping Design U and other industry training models.
Piping designers are highly paid, skilled workers, and they learn much of their skills and expertise on the job, gaining credibility through experience. Bill had developed a set of training videos, which he discovered were being broken down into smaller segments for “lunch and learn” sessions, where workers could develop skills and learn during lunch breaks and similar environments. These sessions required shorter videos and more incremental units of learning material, which led Bill to develop a subscription model for his courses.
Course model vs Subscription model
Piping Design U uses a subscription business model, which focuses on recognition of progression at a more granular level to encourage long-term engagement. It is suited to on-the-job or just-in-time training settings, as opposed to the ‘body of knowledge’ style learning fostered in a course model, where the goals are about finishing a course via sequential learning experiences.
The course model often awards certificates or degrees upon the completion of a course and the mastery of a set of skills. The subscription model, by comparison, is suited to the issuing of micro-credentials, which allow for recognition of incremental learning as a particular skill or knowledge set is achieved.
Bill developed 118 initial badges for the subtopics within Piping Design U, each with its own test bank, quic, certificate, and badge. Bill employed an interesting method for badge evidence - instead of publishing graded materials, Bill uses an ‘evidence policy’:
Piping Design U does not disclose test grades to the public. Each badge has a set of objectives for the skills represented by the badge. Each set of objectives is tested by a quiz of not less than 10 questions (or 10 individual answers) with at least one question or answer representing each objective of the skills definition.
In order to be awarded the badge, the candidate has to score at least 80% on the quiz. Inside Moodle, a certificate is awarded if their grade meets the 80% standard. Awarding the certificate triggers awarding the badge, thus, the badge shows the certificate as the “evidence” of having the skill. The badge will not show the actual grade on the exam.
Badge definitions are also not listed publicly, but are included within the badges, so applicants can see what they need to achieve, and those viewing a badge can see the descriptions.
When Bill spoke to the engineering board, the badges did not contain enough of the data required, so were not eligible for CE credit. Bill then wrote a specification for meeting licensing requirements for continuing education, which can be added as a supplement to the badges. A draft of this policy can be found here: Piping Design CE Policy Draft.
Those Bill has spoken to on both a state and national level have been receptive to the idea of badges - though, as Bill pointed out, that doesn’t necessarily equate to rapid adoption. But it’s important on an ecosystem level to note that more and more accrediting bodies are either already aware of badging efforts in their industries and disciplines, or are receptive to the idea when it’s presented to them.
Although badging still receives pushback from certain circles - particularly around the issue of terminology - the concept of badging is gaining more widespread acceptance and generating excitement in education and the workforce as more people are seeing a real need for micro-credentials that can capture and showcase a detailed skill set or knowledge base that can connect learners and workers to real job opportunities.
Create high-quality connected learning and web literacy tools, content, curriculum and practices for broad use
Catalyze schools, youth programs, and city agencies to provide rich connected learning and web literacy programs, especially in under-served communities
Grow demand for Hive Learning Events, Communities and Networks in new locations and sectors.
When more youth have access to relevant connected learning experiences and gain new digital skills, and educators and organizations make connected learning central to their practices, Hive will have realized its ambitious vision of educational transformation.
This post outlines the forward vision, core principles, goals, and attributes of Hive Learning Networks. Hive offers a clear account of its operating principles to stakeholders, communities of practice, and local Hives in cities across the globe excited to expand and develop a connected learning framework for implementing, experimenting and scaling web literacy, creative learning, and change.
Hive Learning Networks Overview
Founded by MacArthur and Mozilla Foundations, Hive Learning Networks prepare youth to thrive in school, work, and civic life. Dedicated to unlocking opportunities for all youth, Hive Learning Networks empower educators to build connected learning experiences and teach the digital skills essential for young people to shape their world. At the city-level, and across the globe, Hive Learning Networks actively support an open source approach to learning by generating opportunities for exploration, experimentation, innovation, iteration, and shared discovery.
A bold and dynamic demonstrated model of connected learning in action, Hive Learning Networks reflect the reality and opportunities of the Internet era. Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation shares that because “connected learning is the best, fastest and deepest way to ensure that the greatest number of people can learn effectively any time, any place and at any pace, both in school and beyond,” Hive Learning Networks plan to grow over the next five years and drive essential change.
Supported by the recent Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet’s report “Learner at the Center of a Networked World,” and aligned with the principles of the newly launched Connected Learning Alliance, the Hive Learning Networks’ spread and scale is well poised to make the difference in the future of learning. “We want to create more pathways for young people to have opportunities for success — in academics, in a career, or in community engagement – by connecting the spheres of kids’ lives that they care about the most. When we bring together their social world and the thing they want to get better at, and then connect those two with something that has a payoff in the real world, we have connected learning,” explains Connie Yowell Director of Education for U.S. Programs at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
A growing and vibrant network of educators and organizations dedicated to advancing connected learning, web literacy and digital skills, Hive facilitates learning that is “socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity” (CLA). Be it creative skill-share, collective risk-taking or timely dissemination, Hive catalyzes and leverages the ingenuity of local participants — the libraries, museums, community based organizations and individual educators and entrepreneurs in its learning networks — to engage in learning that crosses geographic boundaries and builds capacity to pilot, innovate, fail, and succeed. All of this is with the goal of ensuring authentic, transformative youth-driven, interested-based learning and participation.
Intentional and responsive, Hive fosters the spread of new ideas, tools, and digital media practices and concretely demonstrates the power and potential of connected learning to foster a “world where all young people have equitable access to learning opportunities that are social, participatory, driven by personal needs and interests, and oriented toward educational, civic and economic opportunity” (CLA). In practice, this means that many more educators and youth will experience collaboration and experimentation in spaces where youth are challenged to creatively drive their own learning, that connected learning practices flourish in Hive cities with people avidly using the great digital tools and content being created by the network, and Hive membership expanding to new cities.
Core Principles & Practices
Hive Learning Networks are made up of organizations and individuals working with a wide range of missions, youth populations, institutional sizes, media art forms, and engagement strategies, but who all share a clear set of values and aspirations. Hive Learning Networks act on and advance core principles and practices in their programs, in their partnerships, and throughout the network itself. Taken together, they support learning that is highly-engaging, participatory, and self-directed because, as the Connected Learning Alliance recognizes, it takes place in the context of social interaction. These principles and practices are:
Creative and Innovative: supporting inventive solutions and imaginative approaches to learning. Collaborative and Catalytic: multidisciplinary teams (learners) have shared goals, shared purpose, and objectives to nurture new ideas, new ways of working, new partnerships, or as the Aspen Institute Task Force recommends, “innovations can be shared across networks.” Relevant and Consequential: experiences address needs and potential of children, youth, and teens, with learning and interests linked to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement. Equitable and Accessible: builds learning opportunities for all in a way that fosters interoperability (the ability to move freely across networks). “Adopts open standards and protocols that simplify, promote interoperability of learning resources.” (Aspen) Engaging and Participatory: connects the personal with shared interests of the community to actively create, design and test new knowledge. Working Open: Hive is a network that learns together. Hive works open by valuing discovery, acquisition of knowledge, and the process of remixing and sharing that learning with others.
Vision & Goals
Hive Learning Networks work to ensure that connected learning is ubiquitous in Hive cities across the globe, empowering educators and unlocking opportunities for all youth.
Hive has a clear set of aligned and complementary goals designed to accomplish its ambitious vision of ubiquitously spreading and scaling connected learning. Building across individual and institutional experiences and practices, these goals support a radically new approach to how organizations and educators “work, make, and do.” Hive Learning Networks can help transform traditional institutions, agencies and programs into communities of practice where all learners are at the center as co-designers, makers, collaborators, and creators.
Mobilize more educators to adopt connected learning practices and teach web literacy within a growing constellation of Hive Learning Networks
Indicator of success: The # of Hive organizations, adults and youth contributing to connected learning and web literacy opportunities from traditionally underserved communities and locations
Indicator: # Hive identified educators in city
Create high-quality connected learning and web literacy tools, content, curriculum and practices for broad use.
Indicator: # and quality of curriculum, content, software and instructional models made by educators
Indicator: use and spread of prototypes, curriculum, practices through Hive and other networks
Catalyze schools, youth programs, and city agencies to provide rich connected learning and web literacy programs, especially in under-served communities.
Indicator: # schools/youth programs where Hive tools, practices, curriculum are deeply integrated
Indicator: # of additional organizations, networks, and platforms leveraging the work of Hive
Grow demand for Hive Learning Events, Communities and Networks in new locations and sectors.
Indicator: # of Hive events (Pop-Ups, Maker Parties and Hack Jams) in new locations
Indicator: # of new emerging Hive Learning Communities
Indicator: # of new emerging Hive Learning Networks
Key Conditions for Hive
With shared principles of connected learning to guide the design and facilitation of learning experiences, Hive networks also have several common structural characteristics, including a strong and credible voice representing the Hive at the city level. Currently, Hive learning can be found in eight cities domestically and six globally, each building on and generating key conditions for connected learning. With these elements in place, Hive Learning Networks flourish. They are:
Youth: Youth willing and able to participate in Hive programs and activities, and a commitment to growing a cohort of youth to advise Hive operations and programs
Programming and Shared, Open Assets: Ongoing development of innovative learning programs and activities that contribute to shared, open assets for wide remix
Professional Learning Community: A community of youth-serving educators and organizations committed to testing new ideas in a connected learning framework through web literacy and digital skills
Technology: A commitment to building, supporting and advocating for open technologies that better connect organizations, educators and youth
Research: Willingness to support, assist and incorporate research on the Hive model and its contributions to improved learning for youth and the network itself
Badges: Exploration of digital badges as a tool for highlighting the learning that takes place in informal spaces
Sustainability: Financing and investment to support Hive administration and innovative programs
We are happy to announce that HASTAC and the MacArthur Foundation are hosting a webinar tomorrow about trust in connected learning environments, a topic that gets right to the heart of a healthy badge ecosystem. They even have some famous badge people joining them, including our very own Carla Casilli and Nichole Pinkard, as well as Barry Joseph!
Interested in thinking how technology, policies, and practices could build more trusted learning environments? Join HASTAC / MacArthur Foundation to discuss Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments on Tuesday, July 8 at 11am PDT (2pm EDT), the first of a four-event webinar series about trust, privacy, safety, and learning in an open online world.
What technologies, tools, and policies do learners need to navigate, collaborate, and learn online with confidence? What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments? How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust? What role do badges play in conversations about trust in connected learning environments?
Guest speakers will dive deep into these questions and the principle that “students should have safe and trusted environments for learning,” one of five principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning experiences described in the Aspen Task Force on Learning & the Internet report: 'Learner In The Center Of A Networked World.'
The fifth open international Trust Challenge will award $1.2 million to institutions and organizations that tackle challenges to trust in real-life learning contexts. The Trust Challenge includes a call for proposals that will fund successful collaborations or “laboratories” that create scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations of trust.
We’ve got a quick round-up of this week’s open badges activity, then we’ll let you get back to enjoying the long weekend:
This week on the community project call, we were joined by Dave Crusoe from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, who shared some updates on the badging work being done by the BGCA and other institutions in the Atlanta, GA area. Check out the audio and summary here.
Digital Promise kicked off a summer micro-credentialing pilot program, an effort to “bring a sense of market worth and rigor to digital badges” - read more on EdSurge.
UK mobile network provider O2 has teamed up with Digital Me to co-develop the Safe program, which helps develop youth’s online safety and awareness and awards open badges for the completion of digital ‘missions.’
Last week I was off work at a family event, and I was disappointed because I thought that maybe I wasn't getting the rest I needed from a week off of work. Apparently, social stress and work stress are different. This week when I feel like I've been extremely productive and managed to make a bunch of things.
First off, I was pleased to see that while I was away the work on the DRM and Net Neutrality Trainings launching July 28th had started, and that the team creating that content is excited about the possibilities. There’s still loads to be done, so if those topics interest you and you want to help out, there are plenty of opportunities.
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="311"] My brain was doing this all week. via Giphy[/caption]
I collaborated with Doug to figure out the nuances of Webmaker Training and what it means for counting contribution towards the Mozilla project. I collected loads of data and wrote a couple of wiki pages that fully unpack the training that took place from May 12th June 8th. This debrief page talks about things went right, things went wrong and some ideas for improvement. This page explores how training is different from other types of programs in terms of how it relates to a contribution to the Mozilla project.
Another thing that I accomplish this week was taking a good deep dive into MDN’s new Learning Zone that they're putting together. I'm excited about this work because I think that the MDN community and Webmaker community have a lot of overlap. We can help each other in learning social and technical skills around the web, and we can help each other #TeachTheWeb too. I'd like to create more bridges, and the Learning Zone work is a step in that direction. The MDN is beginning to create articles and Makes that relate to the Web Literacy Map. They’re also starting to think about Thimble, Popcorn and X-ray goggles Makes that support active learning. They’re planning on making tutorials and other fun things for our community to remix or use to #TeachTheWeb.
I've also just been added to an email chain about the new Connected Learning Course that is going to be coming out in September. I’m looking forward to exploring cMOOC challenges and spinning ideas about blended learning along with the team putting together this new experience designed to create better ties between academic classrooms and online learning initiatives.
For more info on what I do every week, you can always check out my Weeknotes, and I'm all over the web, so get in touch!
This is re-posted from the Webmaker blog. Community Literacies is a new series about Webmaker’s finest teaching kits and learning tools, and the user stories that bring them to life. This one happens to feature Hive NYC’s Jeannie Crowley from Bank Street College. Have a resource to share? Get in touch.
In this issue, we explore community-made curriculum that mixes together creative practices rooted in the physical world — from circuit-building to photography — with digitized processes of collaboration, co-design and attribution on the web. We’ll start by learning about a set of hands-on activities built for Hack Your Notebook Day by Chad Sansing, Jen Dick and David Cole. We’ll speak to Alan “Cogdog” Levine about his work creating a Thimble tool that helps users understand complex image searches, and we’ll end our time together by chatting with Jeannie Crowley about teaching the whole child on paper, even the digital bits.
This summer, NEXMAP and CV2 have partnered with Educator Innovator to offer Hack Your Notebook Day, an initiative to support educators and learners with useful resources as they explore how 21st century notebooking can engage youth in creative STEM learning. Inspired by the educational content offered, educator Chad Sansing got in touch with NEXMAP’s Jen Dick and David Cole to co-design a teaching kit of circuit activities together in time for the campaign. And from emulating a circuit in a group, to working with LEDs, to making paper circuits interactive, there is definitely an activity for all skill levels and interests.
From the beginning, the kit-building process was a truly collaborative effort based cross-national communication — illustrating the best bits of co-design methods in action. “During our initial call to talk about how the kit could work, we brainstormed a scope and sequence on a Google doc that became our shared space for copy, links, and planning,” says Chad. And how did the kit get built after that, given the distances and time zones between collaborators?
“Well,” Chad explains, “After our initial meeting, I started migrating text to the landing page and the series circuit activity, and wrote the Human Circuits page. Jen then shot and shared all the .gif images, and built the other activity pages, and both she and David gave feedback throughout the process on how to structure the pages. Since Jen wanted facilitators to have a go-to spot for troubleshooting, we added a little CSS to make a red section on the sidebar for that purpose. As we worked, we checked in once a week on a call, made minor edits in real-time using Together.js, and got the kit in shape as a team.”
What’s next for this group of circuit co-conspirators? Up-leveling the kit to include wi-fi hacks and beyond! Chad, Jen and David have already agreed to team up again and build even more activities inspired by #HYNBD, which is coming up on July 9th. In the meantime, they’d love more collaborators. To find out more about what NEXMAP and its partners have planned, get in touch with Jen, and to help build an activity for the kit, email Chad.
Sometimes, the inspiration to create a teaching kit comes directly from the practice of making itself. Longtime educator and maker Alan “Cogdog” Levine had been experimenting with various advanced possibilities of Thimble for a while before he discovered the way to build a new educational tool that scratched a long-discussed itch. The resulting Image Seek (and its accompanying teaching kit) provide an in-depth exploration of the process of image searching and attribution on the web for hard-to-explain ideas.
“As someone who loves photography, all of my webmaking — blogs, websites, remixes — have relied heavily on photos to communicate my ideas,” says Alan. “It’s always been easy to find images when you have a specific, literal subject in mind — an image of a computer keyboard, a rhinoceros, or a knitting needle. Search engines are good at these kinds of searches. But what if you’re writing online, blogging, presenting or media editing, and need images that communicate ideas, concepts or metaphors? What keywords might produce images that suggest concepts such as bravery, honesty, struggling to learn, complexity, aggression, trust?”
“This is the idea behind Image Seek,” Cogdog explains. “It’s not about teaching how to search (as a strategy) but instead how to use search sites (as a skill). It’s the difference between knowing how to hit something with a chisel, and knowing how to sculpt art with that chisel.”
Cogdog adds that he would love to see others remix the Image Seek tool for their own needs.“By remixing it,” he says, “you can document both your process and the information you needed to attribute… which is out there, but not largely tried, so I am eager to see how others have used it!” Cogdog encourages remixers to get in touch with him on his blog or Twitter, and in the meantime he will be exploring these ideas in workshop form at a K12 conference in Tucson, AZ next month.
Sometimes, educators can be hesitant to include technology in the classroom. Perhaps it’s a problem of connectivity (see the Lo-Fi No-Fi kit on this topic), or perhaps it is simply an issue of empowerment, calling for better professional development. Jeannie Crowley manages digital media and learning at Bank Street College, is a longtime Hive NYC member, and has a background in using teaching to shift the way institutions use technology. To help educators who are newer to digital pedagogies, she has created an easy-to-facilitate icebreaker activity entitled “Teaching the Whole Child” that introduces the concept of teaching the web in the classroom.
This activity can be used as a lead-in to other hacking activities planned for the day, and has been built to explore the disconnect between the reality of the “whole child” approach to education, and participant perceptions of what that might mean in the context of digital skills. For Jeannie, this is an important discussion to be happening as the digital lives of students increasingly become a part of their lived learning environments. “I think if educators understand the importance of the web to young learners, they will be more likely to encourage active participation in the web as part of their everyday curriculum,” says Jeannie. She cites overhearing young learners’ extracurricular interests described as “wasting time” (ie playing video games), being “distracted” (ie social networks) and using the web to “interfere” with “real” learning.
“I developed this activity to help start a conversation about the importance of the web with educators who remain hesitant to incorporate technology into their practice,” Jeannie explains. “Its real exploration is the concept of the whole child approach we often talk about and how it might relate out work to technology, so by using powerful visuals in a hands-on exercise where we literally cut out of a child paper doll, we can examine our own commitment to teaching our children beyond the parts of their education we may deem to be irrelevant.”
Jeannie is especially interested to see how educators explore the question of what risks we run, both academically and emotionally, by ignoring the out-of-school interests of children. She encourages those who facilitate or remix the activity to get in touch, tell her what’s missing, and add their own local variations.
We end this issue with many e-hugs and food fountain gifs for webmakers Chad, Alan and Jeannie for sharing their great educational creations. We hope this issue has left you feeling inspired to remix, reflect and create your own! Have a great piece of content you want us to feature, or want to nominate someone else’s work? Get in touch.
Want help getting started? Add your idea to the list of kits in progress and we’ll set you up with the right collaborators.