What I’ve learned from my kids: Motivation

A while ago I started writing about things I’ve started to learn from watching my kids grow and how they see things. I’ve started to realise how much I take for granted. Or rather I’ve started seeing things through their eyes and realised that, for them, the world can be simpler, yet harder, than I thought.

Gamification is something I’ve used in my work (badges, progress indicators, social interactions, etc.) and i’ve used as part of my (old) social media activities. Remember FourSquare? However, the best way I’ve used it myself is at home, with my two boys aged 7 and 8. Whilst I’m sure there are some excellent ways to gamify the home for rewards for tidying up, being kind and compassionate, coming off screen-time quietly, etc. this one way I’m going to describe here has worked wonders … exercise. And by exercise I mean walking.

We’re not exactly an active family, in that we don’t play sport, but we are active in that we walk rather than drive if we can, we get the bikes out and go for cycle around our village, and we go for (longish) walks. While the ‘let’s get the bikes out’ is normally a good thing, in their eyes, we nearly always get a grumpy retort when we say something like ‘let’s go for a walk’. Even if we promise to stop off and get a snack on the way back, it’s not a very popular event.

Then we tried geocaching. Everything changed. In a nutshell, for us, geocaching is a means to make a country walk interesting, give the boys something to aim for and a small amount of competition between them on who finds the cache first.

“Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.” Wikipedia

We look for caches that are part of a series and follow the cache around using my phone and Geocache app. Each cache site can be used using the GPS and map within the app, and each cache has a clue to help identify exactly where it is when you reach the GZ (ground zero). Sometimes the cache is magnetic and small (I mean really small, so it can take a while to find) and sometimes it’s a box or container where you can leave ‘swaps’ for others to take. All caches are well hidden so they’re not interfered with or removed, and some are hidden so well we end up flagging them as DNF / ‘did not find’.

What has changed is that the kids don’t complain when we say we’re going out. Whereas a short walk of a mile or so would’ve been met with complaints and grumpy shoe-shuffling a few months ago, now we’re doing 4 and 5 mile walks and going from cache to cache, finding the GZ and then seeing which of us finds the cache first. Some are easier than others, some are a nightmare to find, especially if they’re hidden in the undergrowth and it’s the sort that stings.

Link this to another app I use called Map My Walk we can see how far we’ve walked … very important as these walks are also being used for the boys and their Beavers/Cubs hike badge! See, it’s all part of the larger plan. 

Gamifying our walks has worked, and the kids don’t even realise we’ve done it. We’re slowly covering the areas immediately around where we live, but we’ve also met family members further afield and done some cache’s with them. We also found a few when in Austria a couple of weeks back, and it was the kids who wanted to try. The motivation is now there, they love what we do as they want to beat their friends, who are also geocachers, or compete with family members on who can reach the next milestone number of cache’s found. 

Geocaching Map My walk

Image source: Trevor Manternach (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Learning or achievement?

Irrespective of the assessment criteria or type of assessment used at the end of a course, we champion the achievement and base ‘learning’ on the final grade. For right or wrong, this is the state of schools, colleges, universities and MOOCs .. a pass grade equals success, not necessarily a quality learning experience.

When a course or programme goes through review, either for changes or it’s new, the conversation will always turn to the assessment. Is the assessment indicative of the course and the course aims? is the assessment type appropriate to the delivery method? Is it a straight forward 100% exam or mix of coursework and exam? If coursework is included in the final grade can the documentation be deliberately vague to allow flexibility in how and what the coursework is (project, group, video, report, tests, etc.)?

All well and good. Well, not really good but you know what I mean. But which is more important … the learning and knowledge acquisition or the assessment grade? Most of us would say the former, the learning and being able to retain an apply the knowledge. But education requires a certificate that shows more than just attendance. It requires to show the standard to which the holder has worked and can work. Without a score or grade (80% or 2:1) there is no meaning to the achievement for an employer to gauge the ability of the certificate holder.

Is there an answer? Could the achievement be recreated and reassessed to accommodate more meaningful information pertaining to the individual and how they ‘work’ and ‘learn’, and what kind of person they are? This is usually a reference on an application, but wouldn’t it be good if this had more emphasis on an application than a grade? Making something that can’t be gamed would be the hard part, anyone can find someone to write a glowing report and review, just like you can find online examples of buying the academic paper or script. 

What comes first when planning your course? The learning, or the achievement?
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You could argue we’ve already got an achievement for learning that goes beyond the assessment with Open Badges. If so, why haven’t we seen them used more widely? What is holding us, or rather the employers, so tight to the grade result and not the achievement? A few years ago there was lots of talk about the scope and strength of Open Badges. Surely that hasn’t gone away. I hope it hasn’t gone away. 

Image source: The Old Adalie Plain (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Books as Open Online Content #BOOC

In the past 10 years as a learning technologist or eLearning consultant, I’ve come across many new ideas, concepts, techniques, technologies, methods, cultures, etc. I’ve learned about open source software and open badges and open access journals, and open courses. Now I’ve just learned about open books, specifically BOOCs (Books as Open Online Content).

What is a BOOC?

“These innovative ‘living books’ feature articles of various types, in a non-linear thematic presentation that offers readers the option to select and sort subjects they wish to read. With long and short articles, blogs, videos, audio and Storifys, these ‘books’ grow over a period of time.” UCL Press.

Books as innovative 'living' books? Yes, really! Read more from @hopkinsdavid #learning
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How I see the BOOC is that it’s a free ebook, but not something for your Kindle or Kobo or eReader. This is a browser based resource that can be text, image, video or audio based (ideally a mix of all of them?) that can build and expand as the authors continue to research and write. The platform that UCL has built is really good, for the explanation of BOOCs, that enables the content to the flagged/tagged under one of four headings, each displayed graphically using different colours (as below). The content is capable of being in more than one ‘category’ so you can read this BOOC from the perspective of ‘libraries’, ‘publishing’, ‘bookselling’, or ‘academic’.

There are many instances where, when wanting to read and learn about something, the most up to date and highly respected book is still out of date. For example, any reference book or ‘how-to’ book is out of date as soon as the author has written it. Then you add the lead time, production and publication time to the equation, and the latest ‘best’ book on the subject could be as much as a year out of date. Anything I want to read about my own interests (learning technology, social media, etc.) falls into this category. To get around this I read mostly blogs and long articles I find and am pointed to by friends on Twitter. This does not mean I get the whole picture, just one view.

A BOOC (researched, references, and peer-reviewed) would help me here? Yes, it’ll still take time to write and review all the content, but it can be ‘released’ in chunks / sections as they become available, enabling the information to be read and used, the authors can get valuable feedback and keep previously released material up to date while progressing the rest. I’m sure it’d be a huge production to do something like this, but exciting none the less? 

I like this. I’m sure there are some WordPress themes that could also handle something similar, along with a clever developer, if not a dedicated website template.

“BOOC is not the answer to the question, ‘What will the academic book of the future be?’ – and it doesn’t claim to be. It is, however, the tangible result of a great deal of consultation, discussion, innovation, and perseverance. It represents some of the issues – contentious, complicated, deep-rooted, emerging, and provocative – that confront everyone who engages with academic publication.” Dr. Rayner.

What do you think? Is this a route you’d use for your own academic authoring and publishing? Would you read a ‘book’ like this, knowing it’s (a) not complete, but (b) kept up to date and features  feedback and changes in the subject / topics?

Image source: modified from Brian Smithson (CC BY 2.0)

Open Badges – die unterbeleuchtete Seite von Open Education

Wenn es um Open Education geht, stehen die Lehr- und Lernmaterialien (Open Educational Resources, OER) klar im Vordergrund. Open Badges oder “digitale Kompetenzabzeichen”, wie Ilona Buchem von der Beuth Hochschule für Technik in Berlin sie in diesem Video nennt, stehen noch etwas im Abseits. Potenzial, z.B. als digitale CVs oder ePortfolios, wird ihnen gerne bescheinigt. Was fehlt, ist Aufmerksamkeit und eine breitere Diskussion über ihren Sinn und Nutzen. Manchmal denke ich, dass eine solche Infrastruktur vor allem zukünftigen Programmen bzw. Algorithmen hilft, automatisiert Profile und Lebensläufe auszulesen. Aber das wäre vielleicht schon Teil der Diskussion …
OERinfo - Informationsstelle OER,  YouTube, 1. Mai 2017

Open Badges for Open Education

Open Badges, so Ilona Buchem (Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin), stehen in der Diskussion um Open Education häufig im Hintergrund. Die Aufmerksamkeit gehört vor allem offenen Lehr-/ Lernmaterialien (Open Educational Resources/ OER) und offenen Online-Kursen (Massive Open Online Courses/ MOOCs). Deshalb hat sie auf der Open Education Global Conference 2017, die gerade in Kapstadt stattgefunden hat, noch einmal für Open Badges geworben.

Ihr Foliensatz gibt einen guten und aktuellen Überblick. Er reicht von der Definition (”Open Badges = visual representations of a skill or achievement”) über ihre Funktionsweise (Metadaten, Infrastruktur, Typen, Taxonomie) bis zu konkreten Einsatzszenarien und Beispielen. Für Einsteiger und Fortgeschrittene.
Ilona Buchem, Mediendidaktik 2.0, 14. März 2017

3 things we need for the next big frontier in Open Badges and digital credentials

Bei Open Badges reden wir ja nicht nur von “online representations of a skill you’ve earned”. Sondern es geht um ein System, eine Infrastruktur, eine Währung, mit der Nutzer glaubhaft versichern können, dass sie wirklich einen bestimmten Skill erworben haben. Hier setzt Doug Belshaw, “Open Educational Thinkerer” aus Northumberland/ England und vielleicht der “Open Badge”-Experte, an und zählt drei Aufgaben auf, mit denen sich die “Open Badge”-Bewegung beschäftigen sollte: “progression pathways”, “granular permissions” und “long-term storage”.

“As an educator, I think the great thing about Open Badges is that they are packaged-up ‘chunks’ of identity that can be put together like Lego bricks to tell the story of who a person is, and what they can do. The trouble is that we’re used to thinking in silos, so people’s (understandable) immediate reaction is “can I put my badges on LinkedIn/Facebook/somewhere else I already have an account”. While the short answer is, of course, “YES!” there’s a longer, more nuanced answer.”
Doug Belshaw, Open Educational Thinkering, 10. Oktober 2016

Open Badges in HE

An unfortunate clash in my calendar meant I wasn’t able to attend this wonderful event today, but it hasn’t stopped me joining in and being a Twitter-pest with my comments.

You’ll be needing Doug Belshaw’s excellent slide deck for this:

Open Badges in Higher Education from Doug Belshaw

Open Badges in Higher Education from Doug Belshaw

I know some are against badges, I know some are in favour. I prefer to think of them as the extra-curricular ‘award’ for students to be able to showcase more than just subject knowledge they’ve been able to regurgitate in an exam (something I was always really bad at).

I don’t believe there is merit in a two to three hour stressful exam scenario. Some students do well here, others do not. I would liked to have had the opportunity to produce more appropriate projects, like I do for work, where I had a role to play, sometimes many roles, in order to organise myself and others, collect and collate resources and knowledge, prioritise these resources and manage outcomes. Not to mention the presentation of the project, either digitally or in-person, and the ability to discuss the project and how I/we worked to get this end result. Here I see where badges can showcase individual achievement, aligned to the formal assessment criteria maybe, but giving the ability to showcase my skills, not just knowledge.

Also present and presenting is Anne Hole from University of Sussex, highlighting more experiences in implementing open badges for both CPD (100 Days of Twitter and TEL). I especially like the badges offered to staff for their engagement in the ‘Take 5’ short courses.

Exploring Open Badges in HE by Anne Hole

Exploring Open Badges in HE from Anne Hole

Also shared during the day was this excellent post from Carla Casilli: Open Badge Opticks : The prismatic value of badges. Go read it.

Many of the tweets I engaged with during the event centred around the same questions we’ve been asking/answering for a few years now:

  • Where is the value in open badges?
  • Who gets to decide the value of the badge, and who gets to issue them?
  • How many badges are too many (either in badges issued or badges collected)?
  • Do employers recognise/value badges?
  • Can/should formal assessment be badged?

and many more. Many questions (still), many different answers (still), all depending on the perspective you’re coming from, and why. I’ll leave you with this great graphic from Doug’s slidedeck – open badges give the recipient (note: not just students!) the opportunity to demonstrate and display proof of the acquisition :

We really do need a new name for 'soft skills' - these are what *really* matter in the workplace! #OpenBadgesHE

image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Why do we hire based on ‘experience’? HR, Automattic, and Open Badges

Was sagen eigentlich noch “Lebensläufe”, “Qualifikationen” und “Erfahrungen” über die Kompetenzen eines Kandidaten aus? Wenig, meint Doug Belshaw. In vielen Bereichen stellen Open Badges, jene digitalen Abzeichen für erworbene Fähigkeiten und Fertigkeiten, bessere, weil feinere Filter dar. “Granularity”, “evidence” und “portability” zählt er als Pluspunkte auf. Mag sein. In jedem Fall werden Netzprofile (LinkedIn, Xing, Blogs) mehr und mehr zu Ausgangspunkten auf dem Jobmarkt. Und ein Baustein dieser Präsenzen könnten auch Open Badges sein.
Doug Belshaw, Medium, 25. Februar 2016

Reading: Open Badge’s and MOOCs #openbadges

Badges continue to interest me, and the development of open badges in online courses and commercial/corporate settings seems to be gaining momentum?

However, the bottom line is that conditions have changed (i.e. progressive mobility worldwide, as well as the increasing need for recognition of migrants’ qualifications). While some authors warn about the risky “inflation of educational credentials” others go even further claiming that “The university has already lost any claim to monopoly over the provision of higher education” (Duke, 1999). The initiatives described here are still in an embryonic stage but at the same time are promising in terms of new possibilities for more flexible tools and, as @daveowhite suggests, they provide new currencies that can redesigning the economy of talent (find more in UNESCO UIL or the EU ESCO).

As I always say, badges will not be suitable for everyone, nor every situation or course, or learning journey(s). But they do have a place in demonstrating acquisition of skills, in a carefully implemented and designed environment, for a specific and define purpose. Whether the display of the badge itself is part of the reason we strive to earn it is part of the value associated with the badge and is something for others to argue (but I am keenly interested in the outcome and arguments).

Image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Open Badges. Competency Credentials For A Digital World

Dieser Artikel “wirbt” auch für die Schnittstelle zwischen dem Totara Learning Management System und Mozillas Open Badges Infrastructure. Aber er ist vor allem ein Überblick über das Thema “Badges”, jener digitalen Abzeichen, die uns heute auf vielen Lernplattformen begegnen. Im Artikel ist sogar die Rede von 14.000 Organisationen, die bereits mit Badges arbeiten. Aber da gehören sicher vor allem “plattform-immanente” Abzeichen dazu, die Lernende nicht mal eben auf ihre eigene Profilseite stellen können. “Digital Badges” halt und nicht “Open Badges” (was auch im Artikel nicht immer getrennt wird). Als “Use Cases” für Badges halten die Autoren jedenfalls fest:

1. Credentialling Non-Traditional Pathways, 2. Micro-Credentialling, 3. Professional Development, 4. Transparency, 5. Streamline Credentialling Process and Improving Efficiency, 6. More Learner Control
Totara Learning Solutions, Mai 2015 (pdf)