Best practices: Using Moodle™ Badges to gamify learning

As educators, we know that engagement is important in any learning environment and that the ways in which we build engagement into our courses will often vary wildly given our classroom need, our curriculum, our students, our philosophy of teaching and learning, and the mandates we are required to comply with. Think about the ways are you currently engaging students in your classroom. What data are you gathering about their effectiveness? What’s working, what’s not, and what’s missing? In today’s blog, we want to introduce you to a new Moodle™ feature designed to add reward and recognition to your classroom.

Understanding Badges

Badges are awarded based on set criteria and are then displayed on a user’s profile. They can also push to a user’s Open Badges backpack since Moodle™ Badges are compatible with Mozilla Open Badges. A badge can be either a site badge or a course badge. Site badges are awarded for a set of site-wide activities whereas course badges are awarded for interactions within a course. Teachers can only create and award course badges. In order to use badges you will need to:

  1. Add the badge
  2. Set criteria
  3. Add a message
  4. Enable access

As a teacher you can add a badge to a course by navigating to Settings > Course administration > Badges > Add a new badge. In configuring the badge details you will enter a name and description for the badge as well as select an image for the badge. This image displays when the badge is issued to students.

The Issuer details will require you to enter the name of the issuing agent or authority for this badge. This is required and will appear when the badge is displayed as well as the e-mail address for the badge issuer.

You will also need to make decisions regarding the badge expiry by setting if and when the badge expires. You can choose to set the badge to never expire expire on a given date or expire a set number of days after being issued.

Once you add the badge you will need to configure it. First you will set the criteria. Some things to note about the choices in this area:

  • If you select the Manual issue by role option then you will also need to identify the role(s) that will be able to award the badge. You will also need to determine if all or any of the identified roles must award the badge in order for students to receive it.
  • The Course Completion option requires the course to be marked as complete for a student based on the set course completion criteria. Course completion tracking must be configured for the course.
  • Use the Activity Completion option to require an activity or multiple activities to be completed before awarding the badge. This option requires you to select the required items and you will need to configure activities with completion tracking criteria in the activity settings.

The Message tab allows you to modify the e-mail message sent to students when a badge is awarded to them. You can modify the subject and body. In addition you may attach the badge to the e-mail message and choose when the badge creator is notified of badges being awarded.

Once you have added the badge set criteria and customized the message you are ready to enable access to the badge. Once this is enabled students will be able to start earning it. It is important to note that once this is enabled and it is issued to a student the badge will be locked. Once it is locked you cannot edit the criteria or expiry settings. Therefore it is critical that you only enable the badge when you are ready to begin issuing. Depending on your settings a badge may be issued as soon as it is enabled. Once a badge is issued it CANNOT be revoked!”

Food for thought

A simple starter badge introduces students to the concept early in the in the course. Imagine for example that you wanted to award a Welcome to Online Learning badge to students after they have reviewed the Netiquette Guidelines resource in your course. You would need to complete the following steps:

  1. Create a page resource named “Netiquette Guidelines” that must be viewed in order to receive the Welcome to Online Learning badge. Set the settings as desired but be sure to set the Activity completion settings to Show activity as complete when conditions are met and mark the Require View checkbox.
  2. Navigating to Settings > Course administration > Badges > Add a new badge.
  3. Enter “Welcome to Online Learning” for the badge name.
  4. Enter “A simple starter badge for reading the Netiquette guidelines.” for the badge description.
  5. Select an image for the badge. This image displays when the badge is issued to students. Images must be in either PNG or JPG format. For best results upload an image that is 90px x 90px as this is the default size of badges.
  6. Enter your name as the issuing agent or authority for this badge. This is required and will appear when the badge is displayed.
  7. Enter your e-mail address as the badge issuer.
  8. Use the Expiry date settings to set if and when the badge expires. You can set the badge to never expire expire on a given date or expire a set number of days after being issued.
  9. Navigate to the Criteria tab to add a criterion for this badge.
  10. Choose the Add badge criteria drop-down menu and select Activity completion.
  11. Then select Netiquette Guidelines as a required item.
  12. Click on the Messages tab to edit the message as desired.
  13. Enable the badge by clicking the Enable access button.
  14. Confirm that you want to enable the badge by clicking the Continue button. The badge is enabled.

Best practices

In looking to maximize the possible benefits and minimize the potential pitfalls of this engagement strategy consider these best practices for effective implementation:

  • When setting up your badges make some badges easier to get than others. This varied complexity can keep maximize engagement and create a bit of healthy competition between students motivated in this way.
  • If your school rewards effort through some system of points etc. connect badges earned to the actual school reward system. For example 2 badges = one ICU entry.
  • While badges can seem a bit playful for some learners there are ways to use this same idea on a more grown up level. Consider using badges with older students or employees for the purposes of certification.
  • Do not enable a badge until it is configured and you are ready to issue it.
  • Customize the message to students for when they receive a badge. If you are developing the course for someone else make sure you create a generic but meaningful message.
  • For best results upload images with a 1-1 ratio (i.e. ones that are square to avoid unwanted cropping). Remember by default badges are 90px x 90px.

For more information on Badges and other advanced Moodle™/Joule features consider signing up for our newly designed Moodle™/Joule Course Building for Advanced Users course.

Happy Moodling!




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