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2 The Second Iteration: Multiple Levels of Badges
H. Põldoja et al.
Fig. 1. Output from the third iteration: the revised course badge system
pathway. Learners’ perspective on the redesigned badge system is discussed in the next
Learners’ Perspectives on Open Badges
Learner’s feedback about the third iteration of the badge system was collected through
their learning diaries. The students were asked to reﬂect on their learning experience in
their ﬁnal blog post. A set of questions was given for students for structuring their feed‐
back. The following section of questions focused on the use of OB’s: (1) To what extent
was the badge-based assessment system understandable? (2) To what extent the use of
Open Badges inﬂuenced your learning motivation? (3) To what extent the use of Open
Design Patterns for Badge Systems in Higher Education
Badges enabled you to choose your personal learning pathway? (4) What were the
advantages and disadvantages of Open Badges compared with traditional assessment
methods? (5) How the badge system in this course could be improved? 15 out of 19
students submitted their feedback for the course and use of OB’s. Seven major themes
were identiﬁed and representative quotes were selected when analyzing learners’ semistructured feedback about the badge system.
Learner control. Most of the students pointed out that the use of OB’s helped them to
choose a personal learning pathway. OB’s helped to understand the available course
assignments and gave the possibility to match the assignments with the learning goals
they had speciﬁed in the personal learning contract. Thus, OB’s enabled learners to
control their learning (“…learners had the possibility to choose their paths: some learners
created learning objects, some wrote a literature review. This was possible only thanks
to the open badges system that gave a good overview of the weight of the assignments
and helped to plan the work”; “My goal was to get A and I liked that I could choose
whether to do all the assignments or not, for example — I deliberately didn’t write one
post…”). Learner control is also related to the use of learning contracts. Our observations
indicate that students with well thought out learning contracts found the badge system
to be more eﬀective.
Awareness. Students also pointed out that the badge-based assessment gave them a
better overview of their progress (“It really was a good way for me to keep track of my
progress”). However, they noted that currently used tools did not provide a summary of
earned badge points (“If there was an automatic score table for achieved badge points
in Moodle, it would have a practical value”).
Motivation. The majority of the students pointed out that badge-based assessment
aﬀected their learning motivation (“The motivating aspect of open badges was the
possibility to choose my own learning path and to ﬁnd the assignments that interest me
the most”). We noticed that students, who were already eager to learn, started to feel
ambitious to accomplish more (“I planned to get B … The ﬁrst golden badge however
made me make an eﬀort, because just so little was missing from A”).
Learning styles. Many of the students also pointed out the possibility to combine
diﬀerent types of assignments to adjust the learning process according to their prefer‐
ences (“I liked the idea that I could choose the types of assignments that felt more natural
Open Badges ecosystem. Most of the students didn’t use Mozilla Backpack (“Maybe
I would use it if we could earn open badges in diﬀerent courses”). More than half of the
students pointed out that the possibilities of viewing, presenting and sharing their badges
are poor (“… the system is not complete. I can’t make my earned badges fully work for
my beneﬁt. I added my badges to Mozilla Backpack and shared in LinkedIn, but appa‐
rently this will be the end of its life cycle…”).
H. Põldoja et al.
Assessment criteria. The most critical aspect the students pointed out was related to
the clarity of the assessment criteria. Detailed criteria for awarding golden badges was
not speciﬁed in order not to limit learners’ creativity and not to guide them into certain
direction. Most of the students found it demotivating (“What is still unclear to me, is the
criteria of earning the badges. What were the deadlines, what was the criteria for the
golden badge, and what is the amount of badge points?”).
Badge metadata. The students pointed out that insuﬃcient metadata included with the
badges limits their practical use in the real world (“When I opened the badge, there was
no next level information. I guess I expected the learning outcome. This would be useful
information to possible employers who would also like to understand the “evidence” of
what the person knows/can do and if these are the competences his company needs”).
Furthermore, as the badge descriptions were not in English, their international value was
Design Patterns for Outcome-Based Badge Systems
Recommendations for designing badge systems in the context of higher education can
be represented in a form of design patterns that describe recurring design solutions at
various levels. The original architectural patterns by Alexander extended from large
patterns such as independent region to small patterns such as things from your life .
In the context of badge systems, it is also possible to distinguish between higher level
patterns that describe the badge system as a whole and lower level patterns that focus
on the speciﬁcs of the badge system. Some higher level patterns for badge systems such
as outcome-based badges have been discussed earlier in . This study summarizes
six design patterns for outcome-based badge systems.
Badge levels. Often, the badges are awarded on a simple pass/fail basis. This is too
limited for measuring the quality of learners’ work. Therefore, in order to motivate
learners there should be multiple levels of badges. Some earlier studies on Open Badges
have used “Bronze”, “Silver”, and “Gold” badges [14, 23].
Badge points. In formal higher education, courses typically end with a graded assess‐
ment. There should be a way to translate badges earned during the course to grades.
Therefore, badges should carry a value that is described with badge points. Badge points
should reﬂect the amount of work required to achieve the badge and the quality of the
work. Higher level badges carry more badge points.
Broken badges. There are some situations that want to be avoided in the course, e.g.
being late with submitting assignments or being inactive in discussions. While badges
typically represent positive activities, they can be also used to point out unwanted
behavior. Broken badges carry less badge points than regular badges or no badge points
at all. This pattern is inspired by the idea of negative badges .
Design Patterns for Badge Systems in Higher Education
Deconstructed badges. We discovered that with large-scale learning activities there
is a danger that students complete only part of the activity and achieve no badge. There‐
fore, large learning activities should be deconstructed into separate badges. For example,
the literature review assignment in our course consisted of writing a literature review
and peer-assessing one literature review. These should be considered as separate assign‐
ments and badges.
Learning pathways. Learner motivation is related to having a control over their
learning. Badges have a potential to provide clear documentation of learning and
increase the visibility of the learning process . Therefore, badge system should be
designed so that it provides a possibility of multiple learning pathways. Most common
learning pathways could be recommended as readymade “packages” for learners.
However, the system should be ﬂexible enough to allow each learner to compose their
personal learning pathway.
Personal learning contracts. The possibility of having diﬀerent learning pathways
requires careful planning on the learner side and increases need for awareness on the
facilitator side. Therefore, personal learning contract procedure  should be used to
support learners in planning their personal learning goals and strategies. Learning
contracts provide the facilitator and other learners an overview of the learning pathways
that learners plan to take. In the end of the course, learning contracts could be used for
self-assessment to evaluate the learning process and achievement of personal learning
goals. Open badges, multiple learning pathways and personal learning contracts form a
triangle of educational tools that complement each other when used together.
One of the important characteristics of pattern languages is extensibility. These were
some of the patterns that we have identiﬁed in our use of the badge system. Additional
trials in other learning contexts may reveal additional patterns. While there is some
related research on badge design principles, only two of our patterns (badge levels and
learning pathways) have been described earlier . The implications of our study are
discussed in the next section.
Discussion and Concluding Remarks
Based on our study, we are convinced that Open Badges combined with learning
contracts and presenting diﬀerent learning pathways oﬀer a consistent solution for life‐
long, self-directed and outcome-based learning environment, as they address all required
dimensions identiﬁed by Garrison : motivation, self-monitoring, self-management
and self-directed learning. This also relates to the fact that self-eﬃcacy is considered to
be the core of motivation and it should be considered when any kind of learning expe‐
rience is designed . Therefore, the students felt comfortable having more control
over their learning. Reid, Paster, and Abramovich  have also found that higher
expectancy value is a motivation to give more value on the learning tasks. Therefore,
making learners aware of what is to become during the course and encouraging them to
formulate their goals and strategies in the learning contract, helps learners to be more
eﬀective and more interested in the outcome of their learning. Although the learning
H. Põldoja et al.
styles by Honey and Mumford  proved to be useful as generic design guidelines for
separating two alternative learning pathways for the course, we cannot claim that this
is the best approach. However, the results gathered from the third iteration of our study
convinced us that when students develop a better understanding of their learning style,
their learning process seems to become more enjoyable, easier and eﬀective. Whether
the design of learning pathways should only conﬁrm the existing learning style of a
learner or suggest each learner’s conscious adaptation to opposite learning styles,
remains an open question for the next studies. If OBI is considered to become the future
link between the existing and desired collective and individual human capital in relation
to innovation business strategy , it is critical that the metadata of the badge is elabo‐
rated and designed in detail to be standardized and reusable. Mapping the credentials
assigned by the badge system to the institutional outcome-based learning framework
(e.g. syllabi in the university context) is one of the biggest challenges of OBI, but if well
thought out and implemented by companies and educational institutions, considered also
very promising . This challenge, together with a need for more elaborated learningstyle-based learning pathways would serve as a potentially interesting focus for the
follow-up study on applying the design patterns for open badges in the context of formal
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MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant
Part of Blended Learning
Danuse Vymetalkova(&) and Eva Milkova
University of Hradec Kralove, Rokitanskeho 62,
50003 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic
Abstract. Demands on the quality of teaching/learning materials in the sense of
targeting studentsʼ individualized learning styles and needs make educators
know, carefully consider, and then choose from many different digital tools in
order to make their teaching more effective, appealing and engaging for students
in the learning process. An online component to different paper-printed English
learning materials – MyEnglishLab provides a smart solution to fulﬁll both
teachersʼ and studentsʼ needs. The research being carried out at the Faculty of
Science, University of Hradec Kralove, tests and veriﬁes the effectiveness of
blended learning using the online component MyEnglishLab in the distant form,
and the tools of smartboard used in the present form of the blended learning
model. In the paper we present MyEnglishLab component itself, its contribution
to blended learning, then we introduce our pedagogical experiment having been
going on within the Faculty of Science and students studying different scientiﬁc
areas. We also present the ﬁrst results coming out from testing two groups of
students – one using MyEnglishLab component and the other using only
paper-based materials, while both groups of students are exposed to the use of
smartboard in face-to-face form.
Keywords: Adult learners Á Blended learning Á English language
Myenglishlab component Á Technology enhanced learning
This paper deals with demands on modern teaching/learning materials from both
teachersʼ and studentsʼ points of view. Since we deal with tertiary education students
and lifelong students who need to maintain and then improve the level of English
language acquired at lower stages of their education, we explain reasons of choosing a
concrete modern digital tool in university English courses, we introduce and describe
the aspects and contribution of this tool to blended learning having been chosen as the
suitable teaching/learning model in university language courses. Finally, we introduce
and describe our pedagogical experiment having been carried out at the Faculty of
Science within undergraduate students verifying the effectiveness of blended learning
using an online component MyEnglishLab. We also present the ﬁrst results coming out
from testing two groups of students – one using MyEnglishLab component and the
other using only paper-based materials, while both groups of students are exposed to
the use of smartboard in face-to-face form of blended learning.
© Springer International Publishing AG 2016
D.K.W. Chiu et al. (Eds.): ICWL 2016, LNCS 10013, pp. 50–59, 2016.
MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant Part of Blended Learning
2 Requirements on Modern Education
The speed of ICT development is increasing and implementation of all ICT innovations
in practical usage is usually at least one step behind the development. Both the
development and practical usage are faster than their theoretical reflection. Even the
term for this ﬁeld of study itself has changed in the course of ICT development many
times: from computer technologies to information and communication technologies to
digital technologies. If we look at words that have been introduced in the ICT dictionary during the past ten years, we can see that those words had never existed or
could have never been heard before: tablets, smartphones, social networks, webinars,
geocaching, Creative Commons, eTwinning, cloud computing, BYOT, MOOC etc.
A lot of attention has been devoted to studying how ICT influence people, their
thinking, emotions or behavior. Today there is no doubt about their impacts on
everybody who uses them. And undoubtedly, these are the teachers who can ﬁrst
observe all those changes and impacts on pupils and students in the education process
(cf. ). Unfortunately, it is more often negative experience gained by teachers
experiencing the gap between them as digital immigrants, and pupils or students as
digital natives .
Adopting digital technologies in the teaching/learning process seems to be more
complex. Using audiovisual devices, e.g. interactive boards, can make lessons more
interesting and with the help of digital technologies students learn, accept or remember
information much better than only from paper-based materials. Nevertheless, in many
cases using digital technologies encourages only the teacher-to-many-students attitude
when the teacher is a provider of the information, he/she decides about the content and
uses digital technologies mainly as information transmitters. Such usage of digital
technologies, unfortunately, cannot be considered as a real integration of them in the
teaching/learning process although it may be helpful (cf. [10, 12, 13]).
The answer to question why it cannot be considered as a real integration could be
found in so called studentʼs competencies for the 21st century. Although one could ﬁnd
different answers, they all seem to be of the same bases. In the document from 2010
Alberta Education states that the competencies described in the Framework for Student
Learning are the attitudes, skills, and knowledge that contribute to students becoming
engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit . When discussing 21st century skills, the Framework for 21st Century Learning could be of a
good use too. 21st century standards, assessments, curriculum, instruction, professional
development and learning environments must be aligned to produce 21st century
outcomes for today’s students . After all, acquiring the factual knowledge is not the
main purpose of education, but rather critical engagement with the available information, their synthesis, and ability to apply the relevant knowledge to the real-world
D. Vymetalkova and E. Milkova
Requirements on Modern Education from the Teacherʼs Point
Digital immigrant teachers experience a deepening gap between them and pupils or
students as digital natives. Unfortunately, as said above, implementing digital technologies only as a transmitting means does not develop studentʼs competencies adequately. A skillful teacher should not only be able to use technologies in lessons, but
he/she should be able to use them to support studentsʼ learning processes. We can
speak about the meaningful integration of digital technologies only if it includes active
and sensible studentʼs work.
The question which technologies should be used in education system still remains.
Apart from the typical and well-known internet sources of information, we can use
many others: social networks (Google+, Schoology), blogs (by people of the same or
similar interests), podcasts (BBC, British Council), discussion groups, on-line videos
and presentations, videoconferences, clouds (Google Apps), webcasting, webinars,
LMS (Moodle), MOOC, etc. Typical features of such modern digital tools are their
availability and accessibility 24/7 (24 h a day, seven days a week) from any computer,
mobile phone or tablet, some of them free of charge, user-friendly and connecting
participants of education whenever and wherever they are.
Requirements on teachers seem to be obvious; they should know, keep up-to-date,
search and ﬁnd the most suitable teaching materials according to their and studentsʼ
needs and education curriculum. Some digital tools enable teachers to develop their own
teaching materials, but this is rather demanding, highly professional and especially very
time-consuming work, which can be for many teachers quite challenging. To be, become
or stay an honored teacher in the following era influenced by digital technologies more
intensively, we do not refuse or recommend to leave old paradigms, but we believe that
the connection of traditional ways of teaching/learning and implementing modern digital
tools is the right way making teacherʼs work a real mission (cf. [3, 10, 13]).
Requirements on Modern Education from the Studentʼs Point
Todayʼs learners cannot imagine their lives without any kind of technology in their
hands, even more, they cannot live without it. Therefore, they not only use different
types of digital technology daily, but they expect technological tools in their education
as a natural part of it. Students do not want to feel going to school like going back in
time. They can state a question asking how they can trust information provided by their
educators while they are using such outdated technology meaning only a blackboard
and chalk. Eventually, the gap between studentsʼ expectations and teachersʼ course
managements gets bigger. They describe themselves in comparison with teachers like
people speaking different languages.
Many researches support the impact of digital technologies on students learning
styles and approaches (cf. ). A higher number of students need and prefer
eye/vision supporting materials, many of young learners feel discomfort when following linear longer texts and prefer using e.g. mind maps and other materials or tools
MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant Part of Blended Learning
contrasting traditional paper-based materials and linear texts . As Prensky  says
the arrival and dissemination of digital technology in the last decade of the 20th century
changed the way students think and process information making it difﬁcult for them to
excel academically using the outdated teaching methods of the day.
Many learners appreciate their educators implementing technologies in the education process, but on the other hand they would be grateful if their learning process
would include technologies within all aspects of their education – at schools, at home
or elsewhere (cf. ). Even though teachers decide on using digital technologies, tools
or materials, learners often perceive them as not systematical, graduating, relying,
consequential and consecutive (cf. [1, 5]).
3 Blended Learning as a Teaching/Learning Model
The Online Learning Consortium, formerly called the Sloan Consortium, deﬁned
blended learning as learning which integrates online with traditional face-to-face class
activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner. Although there could be disputes about what pedagogically valuable manner is, it is obvious that blended education uses online technology (cf. [2, 4]). As we understand blended learning, it is a
combination of the present form of teaching/learning and the distant form of
teaching/learning. The present form of blended learning is represented by face-to-face,
i.e. a personal contact between a teacher and a student or students in a suitable place,
mostly a school building. The distant form of blended learning is represented by a
non-direct contact with a teacher using modern technologies, e.g. email, chat, webinar,
and learners learn with the help of distant texts, e-learning or online learning (cf. ).
Choosing the right tool for the distant part of blended learning is quite tricky and
challenging, neglecting the fact that most of content management systems meet
demands to create, add or adjust the content to different teacherʼs or course needs,
which can be considered as very demanding, highly professional and especially very
time-consuming work. All the aspects can be a real obstacle for digital immigrant
teachers. As the result, many teachers – digital immigrants try to avoid using digital
technologies unless it is absolutely necessary (cf. ).
Blended learning takes advantages of both the teacher-supported learning and
autonomous learning, therefore it can reflect real life more intensively, and provide
teachers tools in order to make their teaching more attractive to learners and more
engaging. The more engaged students are, the better results they reach as well as
motivation for further work not only in the classroom, but any time and any place they
are (cf. [8, 11, 14, 17, 18]).
MyEnglishLab is an online component designed to complement various English language courses for paper-based coursebooks, e.g. Speakout, Top Notch, New Total