In my last post, I talked about gaming and gamification in libraries, and mentioned the use of badges to gamify library services and instruction. Today, I want to discuss that in a bit more detail. If you are unfamiliar with badgification, it is basically the use of customized digital badges (e.g. Mozilla Open Badges) to represent the achievement of different skills or skill sets. If you were a boy scout or girl scout, you’ll be familiar with the concept. Video games have utilized badging systems for some time, and now schools and corporations are beginning to see them as motivational tools for demonstrating the achievement of academic or professional skills.
How would you badgify library skills? You would first need to identify the specific objectives for badgification – Big6 Skills are a good example of this. Then, you would identify all the subset skills and tasks needed to reach each objective (we call this task analysis in instructional design). Next, you would identify all the skills that students could earn badges for. It’s best to include badges for various subset skills (think mastery learning). Finally, you would design learning activities to meet the tasks and final objectives, as well as customize badges for the determined skills and skill sets.
On a broader level, students could use the badges in their e-portfolios to demonstrate competence in specific library skills. This might look good in terms of job-seeking. On a narrower level, a classroom instructor could promote badge acquisition throughout the length of a course. In fact, this is a useful way to integrate library skills into course curriculum. And to ‘up’ the competition, an instructor could display names of students and their earned badges within the course page. While you don’t necessarily want students to be competing with each other for earned badges and mastery of skills, students who are more performance goal- oriented might benefit from this approach.
Right now, Purdue University is offering test pilot applications for a digital badge learning system called Passport. It’s free, so if you want to experiment with a badging system, I highly recommend trying this one out.