May 16, 2013

The Power of Internet Badges

Note: This post is written as a part of the first challenge of the WebMaking 101 course at P2PU.

The 8th grade Web Design Advisory is currently building what will be the 2013 GTSD Student Media Festival.  They are using HTML and CSS to build pages that will showcase media projects from grades 1 through 8.  Some of the students are showing great interest in web design, and I would like to give them a way to continue their learning after graduation. A few of my colleagues have also expressed interest, but they don't have the time to sit in on our classes. I have directed all to explore the tutorial sites listed on the SMS Wiki. When browsing Mozilla Webmaker for possible inclusion, I stumbled upon the ultimate in extrinsic motivation: Badges.

I first discovered the power of badges when using Edmodo as a digital classroom. Students earned badges for completing class projects (Audacity, Pixlr, Word), class participation (Great Response, Critical Thinker), and for demonstrating exemplary behavior (Class Coach, Stinger Pride). Students liked the badges because they were novel, sometimes difficult to earn, often a bit silly, and void of grade like judgement. Either you accomplished the task, or you didn't. I liked the badges because it was a tangible way to visualize how students developed their academics and character during our short time together. 

So now I am exploring P2PU, a peer-to-peer learning site. The badges I earn through this site will be sent to my Mozilla Backpack, which already contains a few badges earned by trying simple HTML challenges at Mozilla Thimble. While there is still more exploring to do, I am sure that learners with a sincere interest will be able to use these sites to continue learning independently. The self-paced, easy to follow challenges give learners hands-on experience with the tools and resources they are learning about. There is a supportive community which is ready to answer questions and provide productive criticism.  

So if learning HTML is something you've always wanted to do, consider Mozilla Webmaker or P2PU. Let me know when you earn your first badge!