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2 The Second Iteration: Multiple Levels of Badges

2 The Second Iteration: Multiple Levels of Badges

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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

to me”).

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 [22].

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 [21]. 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 [5].

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 [11]. 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 [20] 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 [24]. 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 [25]: 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 [26]. Therefore, the students felt comfortable having more control

over their learning. Reid, Paster, and Abramovich [6] 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 [19] 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 [27], 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 [28]. 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

higher education.


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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


1 Introduction

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.

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-47440-3_6

MyEnglishLab Component Used in the Distant Part of Blended Learning


2 Requirements on Modern Education


General Aspects

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. [6]). 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 [15].

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 [1]. 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 [7]. 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

of View

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

of View

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. [16]). 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 [18]. As Prensky [15] 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. [9]). 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. [11]).

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. [19]).

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]).

4 MyEnglishLab


Introducing MyEnglishLab

MyEnglishLab is an online component designed to complement various English language courses for paper-based coursebooks, e.g. Speakout, Top Notch, New Total

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2 The Second Iteration: Multiple Levels of Badges

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