Friday, 29 November 2013

Out & About: Aaron at the JISC Eastern VLE Forum

I spent the 15th November at the JISC Eastern VLE Forum, hosted at City College Norwich's rather nice St Andrews House campus.

The programme (below) looked interesting and I was especially interested in the Badges session.

Session Name
Arrivals and refreshments
Arrivals and refreshments
Welcome Introduction
RSC Eastern News Update
RSC Eastern News Update
Around the region
Around the region: Informal achievement use of badges?
Refreshment break
Show and Tell
Charlie Williams: Conditional activities and badges in Moodle
Bedford College
Moodle Grade Tracker: project outcomes
Blackboard course integration
setting up Blackboard for course integration. Chris boon
Show and Tell
Making courses on your learning platform more engaging
Jaki Houston, British Racing School

Unfortunately there were some changes due to travel and illness problems, but the day started with a good update from Malcolm and Ryan from Jisc Eastern.

The session that had caught my eye was sadly one of those that had fallen foul of illness, Charlie Williams was unable to attend.  So we started the pre-cursor discussion, there was a good 'Around the region' chat that was focussed on 'Informal achievement use of badges'.  This was very interesting, my very first thoughts on badges last year was that they might not fit into HE and that they would work better at a much younger age group.

Another thought I have had for the couple of years that I have been attending the Jisc Eastern's VLE Forum, was how different I/UCS felt, the majority of attendees are either FE or Adult/Work-based education providers.  Often being the only university attendee I feel that that has allowed UCS to research, develop and try things that other institutions don't get the opportunity to.

Therefore I was expecting badges to get a cheer and a huge pat on the back, but I was quite mistaken, as my tweet from the event below shows:

Those that contributed thought there was little value to badges and how they could be implemented.  I spoke about how UCS was developing its new digital literacies provision and that we are planning to use Open Badges as a way of certification.

Staff and students at UCS will be able to sign up to a number of core workshop and then pick and choose from a selection of specialist workshops and masterclasses.  Badges will be awarded for attendance and a number of these badges will add up to completion of the course.

Our VLE - Blackboard - has the ability to award badges that are compatible with Mozilla's Open Badge framework, meaning that anyone that is awarded with a badge can submit that to their Mozilla Back Pack that means they can be centrally stored in the cloud and show whenever the user chooses.

After the 'Around the region' chat, Malcolm did a great job at short notice in giving a more general presentation about badges and what his experiences were (the night before) of creating some.  One of the resources that Malcolm found informative was  Below is a (very poor) photo of some of Malcolm's resources.

There were also good sessions from the chaps at Bedford College showing off their impressive Grade Tracker plugin for Moodle and an informative show and tell from the British Racing School talking about creating more engaging content.

Overall, it was another interesting day and I am looking forward to the next.

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