Learning journeys in higher education: Designing digital pathways badges for learning, motivation and assessment
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© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Educators worldwide are witnessing a change in thinking concerning digital learning, teaching and assessment resources as well as the theories and practices connected to making claims about learning based on digital evidence. These shifts are occurring as three elements have combined to form new digital pathways for learning: (1) self-organizing learning groups, (2) digital badges, and (3) changing conceptions of higher education. This chapter outlines three primary roles of digital badges for supporting learning journeys in higher education: bringing visibility and transparency to learning, teaching and assessment; revealing meaningful, identifiable and detailed aspects of learning for all stakeholders; and providing a new mechanism to recognize skills, experience and knowledge through an open, transferable, stackable technology framework. The possibilities for these roles are explored via distinct phases of the journey of learning referred to as ‘paths into learning,' ‘paths during learning’ and ‘lifelong learning pathways.’ The role of badges as competency credentials and as bridges from informal to formal learning processes elevates the potential of digital badges for transforming teaching, learning and assessment in higher education. Team-based development processes and design decisions for creating badge systems for motivating learning are reviewed based on cases stemming from a national study of micro-credentialing in Australia, and the chief instructional approaches and impacts are briefly outlined, with examples from the cases, namely designing badges for learning processes, integrating badges into eportfolio practices, developing autonomy and self-regulation of learners, and utilizing badges for both internal and open external symbols of accomplishment.
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