I’ve really enjoyed the discussions during this “first” week of the Connected Courses programme. I wasn’t able to watch the first webinar live due to time zone issues so I had to watch it the next day, but I was very relieved to realise early into the discussion that it would not be a rather grim discussion about the crises and perils HE is currently facing, but rather a more positive discussion focused on what the “end” of education entails in terms of its aims/intentions/ultimate goals or results, etc. There were lots of great discussions in the video, which you can find here.
I particularly found the discussions on digital badges really intriguing as it’s a concept not really widely under discussion/being considered for implementation over here (as far as I’m aware at least). I found Cathy Davidson’s passion about the need for a new system of grading really inspiring, and her arguments in favour of badging, especially her focus on how badges are not punative, but instead designed to reward achievements rather than assign failure. Thus students who don’t complete a course still feel like they’ve learned without feeling they’ve failed, and those that fulfil the requirements are rewarded/given a badge to serve as “proof” of acquired skills/knowledge.
However, I also found this blog post that discusses the intentions of badges and some of their limitations/potential pitfalls compelling as well. In this, Julie concludes by arguing that maybe the way forward is in fact not badging, but a more portfolio-based model:
“Digital badges have the potential to become a type resume on steroids – showing that skill sets have been achieved but not providing specific evidence and artifacts that demonstrate those skill sets. Given this age of personal websites, blogs, photo and video sharing sites, learners can easily leave a trail of competencies and skills via an aggregate of their achievements via some form of electronic portfolios. Here is a question to all of those who are considering developing or using digital badges for learning: If you wanted to evaluate someone for competency (e.g., for progressing to the next level of learning or for employment), would you prefer to see a digital badge or artifacts that provide evidence of that learning?”
So, I’m still on the fence about this, as both badges and portfolios have potential downfalls and problematics in my eyes, but I love that this week’s webinar had me engaging with and really considering these issues in a way I’ve never really taken the time to do before.
My reactions and thoughts on the week’s second webinar are on available via my twitter as I was able to actually get online and discuss the talk’s themes live with other #ccourses participants which was also really envigorating. So much great discussion about academic rigour, but also paying attention to how labour-intensive building and running these courses can be.
Finally, this Q&A with Kim Jaxon was also really great for getting me thinking more about these new styles of courses. For me, the key takeaways were:
- Connected courses enable ways to demonstrate participation beyond hand-raising/talking in class
- Start small: partner with a colleagues class to structure peer response or sharing of student projects