Notes from Badging as Certification #ELI2015

Notes from “Badging as Certification” presented by Kayla Berry, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Simeon Schnapper, CEP and Rayna Yaker, CLO, of Youtopia, at the 2015 ELI Annual Meeting.

The Center for Teaching Excellence “expert assistance in sound pedagogy, instructional technology, and overall enhancement for on-campus and distance education courses” for faculty, teaching assistants, and staff.

Youtopia is a partner and provider of points, badges, and leaderboards. Youtopia is built on the Open Badges framework. Simeon compares the Open Badges specification to http as an emerging framework and spec.

Badges in Higher Education

  • Focused on several key areas
    • Recognition for prior learning
    • Pathways to / different forms of assessments
    • Recognizing extracurricular skills and supplementing corses
    • Using competency-based learning to promote workforce readiness
    • Degree as digital credential

Timeline with SIU

  • Started in June 2014, launched pilot in August (editorial: that’s really quick!)
  • Pilot for Fall 2014, review in December
  • Pilot revisions in January with pilots continuing through Spring term


Graduate student instructors at research unis are often assigned teaching appointments even though they have little or no teaching experience


Badges! Pilot uses badges to track, share, and reward performance toward certification in teaching for GAs at SIU


Badges for workshops, roundtables, recording teaching practice, a mentoring plan, and creating a teaching portfolio

TAs submit work, CTE GA reviewed, rpovided feedback, and continued conversations


  • 45 GAs signed up for the Graduate Teaching Project
  • Provided orientations for participants
  • Used Mailchimp and a listserv to notify and remind participants (48% open rate for messages)
  • 3 are close to finishing
  • 5 have completed reflections in Youtopia
  • Workshops:
    • Offered 10 workshops
    • Average of 15 participants per workshop, with a range of 4 to 22

Lessons Learned

  • Too much variation in background of TAs who participated, recommend starting
  • Need more accountability and oversight
  • For Spring 2015, focusing on TAs for Psyc 102 and Comms

Next Steps

  • New challenges
    • Student engagement in the classroom
    • Technology integration (all freshmen get tablets, want to help TAs know how to use it)
    • Professional development
    • Foundation principles – focusing on basic teaching principles
    • Research
    • Leadership

Also providing ability for TAs to use Youtopia to create badges for teaching

Badges have allowed SIU to look at teaching excellence “from the ground up” and how TAs impact student retention, particularly for first generation college students

Q & A

  • Was the expectation that students complete it in a single semester?
    • No, it was envisioned as a year. Want to set expectations and help students maintain engagement
  • What were the requirements / design of the badging system?
    • Layout as challenges, with easy to use settings
    • Participants type in a reflection or uploaded artifact for evidence of completion
    • Manager reviews submissions, adds feedback, assigns points
  • How were the submissions marked?
    • Parameters would be different in a course or program (this was voluntary participation)
    • Performance-based assessment tool
    • Different levels to the badges. Started with bronze, then silver, then gold, based on degree of participation or effort
  • Are there any privacy concerns about having a leaderboard?
    • No
    • Leaderboards are closed systems (within a group, a school, a classroom)
    • If it is open (e.g. for a non-profit), it is recognition and positive, so users haven’t been concerned about privacy

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