Open Bages for migrant academics

Just a few days ago I gave a presentation about using Open Badges for migrant academics based on the experience from the two projects I have been running at Beuth University of Applied Sciences, i.e. Credit Points (2013 – 2014) and the follow-up project BeuthBonus (2015 – 2018) – both part of the German federal network and program called IQ – Integration through Qualification.  You can find my slides on SlideShare:

My presentation was part of the International Day of Badges focusing on Open Badges in Higher Education led by Daniel Hickey, Ph.D. and facilitated James Willis, Ph.D. both from the Center for Research on Learning and Technology, Indiana University.

The theme of the three webinars organised during the Day of Badges in (1) Europe, (2) United States and (3) Australia on 17 November 2015 (Europe and Americas) / 18 November 2015 (Australia) was:

“Connecting higher and vocational education, workplace skills, and innovative learning opportunities”.

Each of the three webinars encompassed 3 ten-minute presentations and 30 minutes of community Q&A and used the web conferencing system ZOOM, which worked really well.

Here is a brief overview of the three webinars and speakers:

Open Digital Badges in Europe

Open Digital Badges in the United States

  • Madison College, Madison, Wisconsin: Kate Radionoff and Lesley Voigt, Badges in the south central Wisconsin workforce
  • Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire: Mike Goudzwaard and Adam Nemeroff, Badges in OperaX, a Dartmouth MOOC
  • NOCTI, Michigan and online: John Foster, Badges for workplace skills

Open Digital Badges in Australia

  • Curtin University, Bentley WA: David Gibson, Badges as bridges: MOOCs, games, and informal learning in Curtin University’s curriculum
  • DeakinDigital, Melbourne VIC: Allyn Radford, Badges for workplace skills
  • Australian National University, Inger Mewburn, Badges at Australia National University

You can view the recordings of the three webinars here:



Digital strategies in higher education

I am proud to announce that we are one of the winners of the digital strategy competition by the Stifterverband and Heinz Nixdorf Stiftung! As one of the 8 winners selected out of from 99 submissions from all over Germany, we will be developing educational digital strategies in all of our faculties at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Beuth University is a university of “educational climbers” (e.g. 55% of our students come from non-academic families) and so the goal of our digital strategy is to use digital media to improve the study process and occupational perspectives, helping “educational climbers” become “educational winners”.

The focus of our digital strategy development is supporting diversity of students in all phases of the student life-line, which is a concept we developed to outline the different pathways students take before and with entering the university until leaving the university and beyond (e.g. alumni relations). Our three guiding principles are:

  • Using digital media to enhance educational quality, especially in terms of personalisation and development of self-competence, providing opportunities for building individual capabilities;
  • Using digital media to support diversity of students, especially in terms of diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds, diverse competency levels and life circumstances;
  • Using digital media to help students prepare for connected digital life, especially in terms of the new requirements and conditions in digital economy and digital work.

An interesting part of designing digital strategies at Beuth University will be the Design-based Research (DBR) methodology to conceptualise and implement digital strategies iteratively in natural settings and at the same time to generate new scientific insights and frameworks for designing digital strategies in higher education.

You can find out more about the digital strategy competition by the Stifterverband and the 8 finalists here.

We will soon set up a website with more information about the process and outcomes of digital strategy development at Beuth University. You can view the films about the diversity of students at Beuth University on YouTube.


ePortfolio Workshop in Berlin

This week I ran a two-day workshop on ePortfolios in higher education together with Birgitta Kinscher (a colleague from HTW and ePortfolio Initiative Berlin-Brandenburg). The workshop took place at the Berlin Center for Higher Education (BZHL) as part of the programme that BZHL offers to lecturers in higher education in Berlin.

It was the third workshop on ePortfolios that I have given and the largest in scope so far. However I must say even two intensive days are really not enough to cover the important topics. The workshop comprised of a mixture of different methods and tools, including:

  • Theory inputs focusing on self-directed learning, enhancing reflection and self-organisation
  • Recordings with practitioners from different fields which I have put into a public Mahara page (in German)
  • Group work on individual ideas and concepts that participants brought in
  • Practical work in Mahara including competence profiles and creating views
  • Best practice examples, including ePortfolio work by Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann
  • Exploring other tools for ePortfolios like Evernote, WordPress and wikis
  • Guest talk on using Evernote for ePortfolios by Marcel Dux
  • Spontaneous presentation on using wikis by Prof. Dr. Heike Wiesner
  • And some creative workshop techniques to inspire development of new solutions

It was great to watch the initial ePortfolio ideas that participants introduced at the beginning of the first day progress and take on new shapes. It was interesting facilitating this process and the results proved that it was the right decision to create a range of different examples, approaches and tools from which each participant could choose the most suitable to their individual needs.

We received much positive feedback, among others one participant mentioned that it was very valuable that we planned much time for group work and discussions. Yes, I definitely think time is important when it comes to transforming understanding and experience. What a luxury in our fast-paced times!

Also it was great to have 100% female participants for a change. As most of my students at Beuth are male, I have noticed how different it is to teach these two gender groups.

All in all I really enjoyed doing this workshop and I think we have arrived at a very good concept, which matured in the process itself. I am looking forward to the next ePortfolio workshop, which I hope to be able to host soon.

P.S. Thank you to all workshop participants and interviewees for their great contributions on the use of ePortfolios in higher education:

  • Dr. Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann (Donau-Universität Krems)
  • Gabrielle Hoffmann (Frauencomputerzentrums Berlin (FCZB)
  • Marcel Dux (Hochschule fuer Wirtschaft und Technik Berlin)
  • Marco Roettger (Beuth Hochschule fuer Technik Berlin)

Gamification in Education 2012

Gamification was definitely an important trend this year and it looks like it will continue to make an impact not only on marketing but also on education next year. The term “gamification” has even made it to the US selection of Oxford’s shortlist for the Word of the Year 2011!
Gamification is defined by the Oxford University Press as
 the application of concepts and techniques from games to other areas of activity.
Designing for gamification in education is not the same as as designing educational games. It is more about translating and transferring what we know about the potential of games for captivating attention, motivating to do things and coming back for more in educational settings. Andre R. Proto writes in his blog post on “Gamified Classroom”:
“With the current state of school budgets, teachers interested in gamification can’t depend on state funding to provide their class with the technology needed for video games. No matter how good a system, any gamification platform that relies on technology is sadly out of reach for many classrooms. We need a method for teachers to implement game mechanics into their classroom without adding to the financial burden. Any other solution, no matter how engaging, isn’t scalable.”
To me one of the most interesting projects ever is the school “Quest to Learn” in New York supporting a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying principles of games:
“Quest to Learn has purposely responded not only to the growing evidence that digital media and games offer powerful models for reconsidering how and where young people learn, but also to the belief that access for all students to these opportunities is critical.”
Another project related to gamification in education that got much attention this year has been Mozilla Open Badges Project, aiming at “making it easy to issue and share digital learning badges across the web:
Learning today happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. But it’s often difficult to get recognition for skills and achievements that happen outside of school. Mozilla’s Open Badges project is working to solve that problem, making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web — through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all.
Some interesting applications include the The Peer 2 Peer University and the course on “Open Badges and Assessment” started by Doug Belshaw. By the way, Mozilla Open Badges Initiative will be leading a track on “open Badges: open Data for Open ePortfolios” at ePIC 2012.
There have also been a number of individual initiatives with such pioneers as Lee Sheldon at Indiana University designing courses as multiplayer games and abandoning grades for game points. You can find out more about it in the blog “Gaming the Classroom“.
Another development worth mentioning are new features of the microblogging service Edmodo. Nic Borg, the co-founder of Edmodo, recognised the “the gamification of the classroom” trend: In 2011 Edmodo started offering some new functionalities such as badges — with which teachers can award students — and a Quiz Builder assessment engine.
If you take a closer look, all these projects show that the idea of gamification goes far beyond collecting points or badges and leveling-up. It is all about enhancing learner engament and supporting the learning process in a formative and iterative way. The premise of gamification is that it no use sitting and waiting for intrinsic motivation but it may be more effective to apply strategies to trigger interest and engagement. As Elizabeth Corcoran puts it in her article “Gaming Education“:
“Gamification, by contrast, doesn’t rely on internal motivation. Instead, it’s using the oldest tricks in the book: providing instantaneous feedback, egging on the competition, and rewarding even tiny steps of progress. Gamification assumes that the player isn’t especially motivated — at least at the beginning — and then provides barrels of incentives to ramp up that motivation.”
With this year coming to an end, it is the time for New Year’s resolutions.  As far as my work as researcher and lecturer (and starting from next semester as visiting professor for educational and social media studies), my personal resolution is to further explore the area of gamification in education.
What I am interested in, is to see how gamification can be applied to support university courses and online communities. This is of interest to me for a number of reasons. First, I would like to experience this new design process. Second, I want to find out what can change in the classroom – for good and for bad. Third, I would like to discover the patterns of gamification that can be of value for different types of courses in higher education. So, I will be re-designing my current courses soon and designing my new courses based on selected game principles. I am really looking forward to this new experience.
I have started curating the “Gamification in Education” topic with Games and Gamification on, a stack on Gamification on Delicious and a new Twitter stream with #gamification on Hootsuite. I am looking forward to sharing brilliant ideas and good practice from all over the world and across different educational contexts.
Last but not least, here are also some of the key blogging gamification experts that I have been following in the last months:

Hope you find this useful too …