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by Sara Samuel
What are digital badges?
Just as a physical Girl Scout or Boy Scout badge indicates an accomplishment or rank, so does a digital badge. Digital badges are electronic files that are represented with an image and corresponding information that can validate a person’s accomplishment is embedded with the file – including links to the issuing organization, a list of requirements, and evidence for completion of those requirements. Just as a girl scout leader has to sign a statement that a girl scout has completed the requirements for a badge, an organization will issue the digital badge upon successful completion of the listed requirements. Digital badges can be displayed on a personal or professional website, or shared through social media.
HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) has a great informational website about digital badges that includes videos and example badges. You can also read more about the benefits and challenges of digital badges at the following resources:
- Digital Badges Help Young People, Adults Demonstrate Skills. August 2013. MacArthur Foundation.
- A Future Full of Badges. April 2012. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- How Badges Really Work in Higher Education. June 2013. Campus Technology.
Can we apply digital badges to librarianship?
At the beginning of the school year, Instructor College Steering Committee (ICSC) had a few conversations about how we could possibly change the outcomes of Instructor College (IC). IC used to be a series of workshops given over a short period of time, and participants would receive a certificate at the end of the series, acknowledging their participation. Since then, ICSC has evolved to be more of a group that organizes IC events for library instructors without having any recognition tied to them. ICSC had the idea that we could become more like the IC of old by using digital badges to recognize people who came to IC events and were able to demonstrate that they learned something that could impact their instruction. Do you think digital badges could realistically be used as a professional development tool here at UM Library?
Beyond professional development, library instructors often give open workshops and teach students skills that they may not get formally recognized for in a traditional classroom setting. Do you think digital badges could be used to incentivize participation in open workshops at the library? Would they be an effective motivator for students?
For either of these to become viable, library administration would have to provide support. There would need to be high level coordination between groups that organize the various events that people can attend here at the library so that there is consistent recognition of participation. For both the professional development and the open workshops, a reward system could be set up: earn x number of badges during the year, and you can get a free MLibrary umbrella (students, faculty) or additional travel money to attend a conference (library staff). Would it be worth creating a digital badging infrastructure to support these kinds of awards?
What’s currently being done at U-M?
If you’re wondering about any local initiatives, the LIT Learning Technology Incubation Group (LTIG) and the USE Lab from U-M Library are spearheading a digital badging project called Mblems. Mblems were issued this year to recognize undergraduates’ co-curricular learning in Engineering. Partnering with the M-STEM Academy, the Mblem digital badges represent a flexible, portable, and verifiable format in which to recognize, display, and transmit learning opportunities. The pilot study, funded by a Transforming Learning for a Third Century Quick Wins grant, ran through Winter 2014. Questions about this project may be directed to email@example.com.
(Text for this section was taken from an informational message from Steve Lonn in the January 17, 2014 internal Library Newsletter.)
Want to try digital badging yourself?
To test out the digital badge concept for myself, I set up a Mozilla Backpack and earned 2 badges. You can check them out on my profile page – proof that I understand digital badges and can use a browser! If you want to try it out yourself, you can earn your first badge by taking the badges 101 quiz.
Diana Perpich, current chair of Instructor College Steering Committee, has developed a badge just for us at U-M Library by using Credly, a platform for creating and issuing digital badges. To earn the badge, you will need to do 3 things:
- Find & read at least 1 popular article about digital badges.
- Find & read at least 1 scholarly article about digital badges.
- Write up your opinion about digital badges as they apply to librarianship.
To request your badge, please follow these steps:
- Go to https://credly.com/claim/17888/8B1-2E8E-211
- You will need to either create a Credly account, or sign into Credly using LinkedIn or Facebook.
- Click on the Document icon to upload a document that contains citations for the articles you found, as well as your position paragraph about digital badges and librarianship.
- Click on “Claim this credit”
Your evidence will be reviewed and the badge will be issued if you have successfully met the criteria. If you don’t want to go through the badging process, you are welcome to leave your comments below.
What do you think about digital badges? Do you think we could implement a digital badging system for professional development or student motivation here at U-M Library?
There are six members of the Instructor College Steering Committee this year. Diana and Jungwon are returning, Harold is rejoining after a hiatus, and Nandita and Nancy are new to the group. We are looking forward to working together to offer engaging programming and forward-leaning resources for library instruction. We invite you to contact any one of us with questions or suggestions.
I joined the University of Michigan – Taubman Health Sciences Library in September 2012 and have had a variety of opportunities to utilize my background in instructional technology to analyze, design, develop, and implement instruction. I am happy to be part of the Instructor College and have where I have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on issues pertaining to instruction and how each of us can make a difference in facilitating performance and improving learning outcomes.
I have been developing web applications at Web system for more than four years. Recently I co-taught several instruction sessions on using Omeka, since then I found the power and joy to explain what you build for users. I am interested to learn, develop and apply instructional strategies that will help library instructors. I was honored to join Instructor College Steering committee.
I am honored to be a member of the Instructor College Steering Committee. I look forward to working with a group of colleagues that is as curious and passionate about best practices in the art of instruction as they are about the sciences of collection management, key-word searching, circulation services, etc.. Some of my favorite classroom moments are the ones when instructor becomes student and I learn something — usually from a student– about whatever I’m teaching or, better yet, about myself.
Although I do not have any formal training in instruction, I’m excited to help organize events and initiatives that can help the library continue to provide top-notch instruction to our students, staff, and faculty. I enjoy one-on-one instruction, giving tours, and helping students discover a new and useful resource or service.
I have been providing library instruction for users since 1981. I have taught hundreds of instructional sessions and workshops for students, faculty, and staff, have developed and taught research methods courses, and was for ten years an adjunct instructor in the Graduate School of Information at UM. I have authored a variety of articles and conference presentations, and my 1984 article “Learning Theory and the Self-reliant Library User”, co-authored with Carla Stoffle, won the ALA-RUSA Reference Service Press Award in 1986 as “the most outstanding article published in RQ/RUSQ during the preceding two-volume year”. My areas of particular interest include pedagogy and learning theory, and the application of active learning techniques in instructional sessions.
In July 2012, I joined University of Michigan Library as International Government Information and Public Policy Librarian. I am interested in developing instruction resources and strategies which will help library instructors to effectively interact with various types of students and researchers. I believe that working on the Instructor College Steering Committee will be a great chance to learn about library instruction.
Please feel free to share your ideas here on the blog or contact us.
On February 24, 2012, the Instructor College hosted a cross-campus library speed-networking event in the Hatcher Gallery, where participants shared their ideas about instruction with their colleagues.
In this event, participants sat across from each other in long rows and exchanged in five minute conversations. There were three separate rounds addressing the following questions, with comments shared broadly between each round:
What are some of your favorite instruction strategies and/or exercises?
- An instructor at the Taubman Health Sciences Library works with medical students to answer relative questions and has the faculty member provide context via an example
- An instructor in Research modifies her lesson plan after teaching based on interactions with students
- An instructor in Learning and Teaching teaches faculty how to make better use of CTools – encouraging faculty to see CTools as students would
- Before an instruction session, an instructor in Research sends out a survey to assess how she can round out her lesson plan; she posts answers to the survey at the beginning of the session so students can see that others in their class have the same issues
What are some of the ways you have worked with faculty to integrate the library into their classes?
- An instructor at the Taubman Health Sciences Library is on the curriculum committee at the School of Dentistry – which enables him to see how faculty need to incorporate instruction into their classes
- Instruction should happen at all levels, instruction is not just about the faculty’s instruction of students; it should include GSI’s, community and faculty
What do you see as the biggest instructional challenge that you face?
- Time (time to prepare, time to talk to students during instruction)
- Keeping students engaged
- Having to keep up with resources
- Showing faculty how to use Google scholar – there’s a bit of tension there because faculty want to show students how to use other resources, when the instructor knows there are good things to show about Google scholar
- Accessibility issues – considerations for accessibility