At the start of this academic year, we launched blogging across my whole school. We have a WordPress MU installation which is hosted by Creative Blogs and every class from Nursery to Year 6 has a blog. I’ve blogged with classes before and know the benefits first-hand. I’ve used it for two years whilst teaching in KS1 and I also wrote my MA thesis about the ways blogging promotes New Literacy Studies.

As I have moved to teaching upper KS2 (more on that in another blog post) I wanted to build on the previous work and embed the blog into the ethos of the classroom. I have also been looking for new ways to inspire and reward learning, so have been following the discussions on Twitter about Open Badges. I have always liked the idea of badges (after using Foursquare and GetGlue) and have mulled over the idea of how Open Badges might look in my classroom. All of my thinking led me to ways it can be embedded in the blog (online) and in the classroom (offline).

I discussed this with my class, who were very keen for it to happen. In fact, I have had a few reminders from them about setting it up. So, this evening I have managed to set up an initial version of Badges for Learning which will launch officially with my class on Monday. We have launched with five basic badges (three linked to online blogging activity and one linked to offline activity in the classroom). Each child has their own profile page (a static wordpress page) which includes their badges, recent posts (using a wordpress plug-in) and moderated comments. They cannot edit their profile and only I can issue badges at the moment (although that may change). I’m not using a plug-in to issue badges. I simply add the image file from the media browser and link it to the blog description on the badges page (using anchor tags). I also post the badge images in the comments section of relevant blog posts using a plug-in which allows this. I’m not using the Mozilla Badge Backpack (yet) as I am not sure how I can work that in terms of embedding and issuing badges to multiple user profiles within a WordPress installation (and have badges display on individual profile pages). But I do think this is a good first step.

I plan on adding a range of badges linked to skills across the school curriculum, digital literacies (potentially based on something like Jenkins competencies) and offline achievement. I’m also going to have hidden badges which can be unlocked by taking part in events such as educational visits.

I would be interested to hear your views about this. I’m also keen to hear about ways in which other people have used badges in their classroom.

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  • http://dougbelshaw.com/ Doug Belshaw

    Great stuff, Martin. I’m really looking forward to seeing how you get on with this! :-)

    Note that you’ll not be able to legally use the Mozilla-provided badge backpack with under-13s – although you can host your own version. More here: http://openbadges.org/en-US/legal_faq.html#coppa

    • http://martinwaller.me/ Martin Waller

      Thanks Doug, I’m looking forward to developing some new badges with the class.

      One of the apprehensions I had about the Mozilla-provided badge backpack was the age restriction. The self-hosted version looks quite complicated for me to set up so I think it might be a case of waiting for more technically minded people to work that one out first. I hesitated to call our version ‘Open Badges’ as it didn’t use the official framework, but I do think it’s a good step to trial, develop and refine the approach in a real classroom.

  • johnsutton

    Excellent stuff Martin. Will be following this closely.

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  • Mr Connor

    Hi Martin,

    I’ve been meaning to try and get something similar started with my class and this has helped hugely. May I ask how you made your badges? There is now an open site through Makewaves (Makebadges) which allows badges to be made really easily. I’m hoping to get some of the children to design and make badges too.

    Have you tried asking other teachers/classes to have badges with their blogs? If so, how successful was it?

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Stephen
    @StephenConnor7