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SuperNova Badges

This article previously appeared on the blog of Badge List, a platform used to track and recognize learning achievements. It is republished here with permission from Badge List.

Drexel University Guides Student Researchers with Open Badges

In a recent interview with Jaya Mohan, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research [now Undergraduate Research and Enrichment Programs] at Drexel University, told me how she collaborated with colleagues to build a system that would help guide and encourage undergraduate researchers. The organization wanted to help students see how each achievement became part of the larger story of becoming a successful researcher. They knew that each accomplishment, from taking a course in research methods to making a presentation or publishing research, was an important task in the context of each student’s journey.

In order to help guide students to success, the organization developed a way to recognize the importance of each step. The result of this was the creation of the SuperNova Undergraduate Research Fellows Program. As the Office of Undergraduate Research developed the program they began to look for software to help administer the program. The first thing they considered was an e-portfolio platform.

During a webinar Jaya attended while considering e-portfolio platforms, the presenter mentioned the recent addition of a digital badge component to their system. Rather than settling on the first tool she looked at, Jaya decided to dig a little deeper. And after conducting further research on Open Badges for higher education, she began to investigate badging platforms.

Using Badge List

Badge List badge

When she checked out Badge List, she liked the ease of use that it provided for her students. The requirements for each badge could be made really clear, and it was easy for students to submit evidence. She and her colleagues were able to quickly check evidence submitted for each badge, offer feedback, and issue badges. Most importantly, it easily allowed students to provide a reflection on their activities in order to earn each badge. This helped to bring out the narrative aspect that she recognized as being so important to accomplishing long term goals

As the team moves forward with the program, there are still questions that need to be answered. The organization wants to combine the digital aspect of the program with in-person advising. Making sure students know that they have resources beyond the software is something that has to be underscored. Also, students entering the program often have lots of questions about what kinds of activities count as evidence for earning badges. These questions sometimes have to be answered by looking carefully at each activity. Not all these questions can be answered simply by looking at the badge.

Notably, evidence for each badge in the program takes on different forms. Some badges can be earned by submitting documents and reflections, while others must be fulfilled by spending a certain number of hours on a particular task.

At its core, the SuperNova program is an ideal case study for an open badges program. It uses individual credentials to help guide learners through a knowledge space, making the steps to success clear. Although more work needs to be done to make the match complete, its great to see students and organizations gain such a tangible benefit from a digital credentialing platform.