Digital Badging to Pilot on Campus

Digital tools create new opportunities to facilitate learning, for example through student assessment. These new tools, such as “badging,” make it possible to capture students’ learning in addition to the different kinds of experiences that shape them into Ohio State scholars and citizens. Digital systems also provide a much more detailed account of student learning than transcripts have traditionally contained.

One innovative instructor, Dr. Tim Rhodus in Horticulture and Crop Science is exploring the potential of these systems by introducing badging as a teaching tool in the 2015-2016 academic year.

A digital badge is an encrypted representation of a skill you’ve earned or experience you’ve had.

"It's like badges in scouting," said Dr. Henry Griffy, instructional designer in ODEE.  "Imagine that a student could show people not just an abbreviated list of courses they took, but a few hundred pictures representing acquired skills that would then link to more detailed descriptions." 

The use of badges in higher education will allow Ohio State to develop a new community of students who value transparency in their education. As an opportunity to develop a badging system and test its viability, ODEE is proud to partner with Dr. Rhodus to lead the development and pilot of this system.

In upcoming months, Dr. Rhodus and his team will develop badges that students will earn for all learning objectives associated with two degree programs, Sustainable Plant Systems and Professional Golf Management. 

“For each learning objective, multiple badges can be earned based on the type of assessment,” said Rhodus. “It’s a complex system that will very closely indicate the educational competencies a student has achieved throughout their time at Ohio State.”

In preparation to present badges to students, Rhodus’ team will develop the metadata and criteria to earn badges, while ODEE provides support, consultation, and develops badge design. The badges will be developed on the Mozilla Backpack platform where students will host their entire badge collection. Also, Mozilla Backpack has integrated ways for students to share their achievements via social media, or within their digital portfolio or resume. 

The long term goal is for graduates to enter a job interview with their resume, degree, and backpack. They can then use the badges in their backpack to demonstrate specific evidence of their skills to a potential employer.

“It’s an exciting time in education and badging gives us the opportunity to test the use of alternative credentialing at Ohio State,” said Griffy. “In this pilot, two H&CS programs will use badges throughout 2015-2016 and our goal is to assess both badging and the eventual development and adaptation of an enterprise-wide badging system.”

 To learn more about badging and how it will be piloted at Ohio State, watch Dr. Rhodus present at the 2015 Innovate Conference.