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Posts Tagged ‘edmodo’

  1. Bringing Badges Together in Education

    November 13, 2012 by Josh Caldwell

    Badges

    One of the core elements of my in-progress DIY classroom gamification suite is Badges (or Achievements, depending on your chosen terminology). Lately badges have gained wider acceptance as a tool not only to motivate learners, but also to display and acknowledge specific, validated skills. Instead of simply a letter grade to show some broad measure of success or achievement, badges provide students with a tangible record of their achievements – sort of like an educational resume.

    While several e-learning sites have implemented badges (I just earned one from Codeschool.com for taking their Try Git course), most of those badges get stuck on the issuing site. My students use several such sites to learn various skills, and it does me no good if their badges are scattered across the internet, isolated from each other. If I’m going to use badges as evidence of learning and support for grades in my classes, then I need a them to live in a single comprehensive repository, somewhere that allows students to collect badges from a variety of sources and present them as a cohesive whole. In other words, I need digital sashes on which my students can sew their virtual merit badges. To that end, Mozilla has created the Open Badges Initiative. With support from the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla is building a central badge backpack, where badges from a variety of issuers can be collected, verified, and displayed. Sites that are registered as badge issuers can then allow users to push any earned badges to their backpack, where it can be displayed along with other badges from other sites.

    The Open Badges Initiative is still in beta, but I’m hopeful that in time sites like EdmodoCode Academy,  and Gamestar Mechanic will get on board. Recognition for informal and outside learning is a core element of my approach to gaming my classes, and the Open Badges Initiative might give me an easy and effective way to award students credit for the work they do inside and outside of school. My next step is figuring out how to get my Drupal Classroom Gaming project (man, I need a better name for that) tied in with Open Badges. My most recent hopeful find is the Open Badge-It sandbox module, but I’ve yet to get it working quite right.

    Badges for Lifelong Learning: An Open Conversation


  2. Dupalized Gamification

    October 29, 2012 by Josh Caldwell

    Dangerous-to-Go-Alone

    I’m now well into the third run of my gamified Computer Tech elective, (have I really never posted about that? Bad blogger!) and I’ve reached the point where I really can’t continue without some a system to automate many of the more time-consuming administrative tasks. By design, my class allows for a wide variety of student choice in regards to both what they want to learn and how they want to demonstrate their learning. In one semester I cover everything from computer hardware to multimedia design to programming and game design, and with such a broad range of topics, we can’t delve terribly deeply as a whole class. In this system there are certain core lessons and assignments that are mandatory for everyone to ensure all students have a basic understanding, but when it comes to the in-depth learning, I want each student to choose what they want to learn within the scope of a given area of study. This requires that I have prepared a wide variety of materials, lessons, and assignments. More importantly, it requires that I have some sane and efficient method of presenting all of that stuff to each individual student as they progress through their chosen path. Oh, and somehow I have to equitably assess all of that variety and make it fit into a standard gradebook.

    Currently I set up a separate Edmodo small group for each different quest choice and then manually assign students to their chosen quest. This creates the first bottleneck for the students, as they need me to assign them to a group before they can get work done. After students are in a quest group, there’s a further bottleneck as I sequentially provide assignments. I’ve attempted preloading all of the assignments for a given quest, but that creates confusion as the students try and figure out what order to do them in, and whether they must complete all assignments in a quest path. Simply put, this system is a kludge at best, and it’s preventing me from providing the kind of open learning experience I want. Beyond the issues with my choose-your-own-adventure style of learning, I’ve found it impossible to use badges and achievements consistently and meaningfully when they must be given manually. Here’s what I need a classroom gamification system to do for me:

    • Pre-load many assignments/quests for students to choose from
    • Sort XP into different categories (either for gradebook weighting, or by skills/standards)
    • Ensure mastery of basic topics before allowing progression onto advanced topics
    • Automate progression through quests wherever possible
    • Allow for teacher intervention before progress can be made
    • Automate XP, badges, and achievements wherever possible
    • Allow for teacher assignment or revocation of XP, badges, and achievements
    • Hide or reveal quest paths at will
    • Organize students by class
    • Highly customizable reports (essential for grading)

    Having looked in to the few existing educational gamification systems out there, the only one I’ve found that meets most of my requirements is 3D Game Lab. While 3D Game Lab looks great, it’s not yet openly available, and even if I got in on the beta, I would be limited to 60 students. I need something that I can use with all of my students, and I need it yesterday! Enter Drupal.

    Drupal is essentially a website building engine, a Content Management System. While it’s not specifically designed for education, it is built to be almost infinitely extensible, which has led to a plethora of educational modules. Between the existing modules available, and my experience building custom Drupal sites for clients, I figure that this has got to be the way to go. I’m currently in the building and testing phase, using several modules to achieve my goals:

    • Course module for individual quest paths. By creating my quests as mini courses, I should be able to manage student progress through their quests, allowing for both automated and teacher-initiated progression, as necessary. Signups can be either closely managed with codes, or left open.
    • Organic Groups module for classes. This should allow me to create an manage class groups easily. I could also use Organic Groups for smaller quests or individual projects, when a Course might be overkill.
    • User Points and its related modules for XP. Highly configurable and automatable, with User Points I can hopefully finally set up an XP system that works without excessive teacher involvement. User Points XP will correlate to student grade, and will be used to Level Up, unlocking new challenges, badges, and achievements.
    • Certify or Certificate modules for major Achievements. One of these will provide students with Achievement certificates upon major quest completion. I like the progress tracking element of Certify, but I’m struggling to get pdftk set up on my shared server.
    • Badges module for… badges.
    • Rules module for automation.
    • Views module for grading reports (among other views-tastic uses). To be honest, I haven’t really fleshed this one out too much. I think it will take a bit of use to figure out just what I need out of reporting, but I’m sure between Views and ” Panels, I can get it done.

    I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I hope that I’ll come out with something that will both ease my administrative burden while allowing for an even greater amount of student choice and independence within my classes. I’m eager to see where this takes me, and if any of you out there are interested (either on the education or the Drupal side) please contact me. I’d love for this work to make an impact beyond my own little classroom.


  3. Teaching Without Your Own Room – We Should All Be So Lucky

    June 9, 2011 by Josh Caldwell

    I haven’t had a classroom of my own this year – I’ve been a vagrant, a wanderer, a man without a country – and I’ve grown to love it.

    Mostly. (more…)


  4. Gamify Your Class Website

    May 9, 2011 by Josh Caldwell

    Atari Games

    Given my love of gaming and my interest in the motivational value of video games, I’m surprised (baffled, really) that I’ve only recently heard of gamification. It’s not that the concept is unfamiliar to me, far from it, but this new (to me) terminology has opened the door to a whole world of people attempting to gamify education. Empowered by my new $5 word, I went on a marathon search bender to find out how people are gamifying their classrooms.

    (more…)


  5. My Edmodo Wish List

    April 13, 2011 by Josh Caldwell

    As I sit in the lab, watching my students engaging in a discussion on Edmodo, I’m struck by how quickly one site has become the hub around which my classes spin (see my previous post about how Edmodo has changed my classroom). I’m constantly thinking of new ways to make old assignments more vibrant, social, and collaborative. Edmodo is great, but it could be better. Here are a few modifications that would take Edmodo to the next level:

    Gradebook - Here’s a great example of the balance of simplicity. The Edmodo gradebook doesn’t try to do too much – no weighting or custom scales – but it’s almost too simple to be really useful, so here’s what I’d like to see:

    • Student IDs – The gradebook has an export feature, but my desktop gradebook uses the student ID as an import key, so export/import doesn’t work for me (and most others, I imagine).
    • Custom rubrics – I use a 4 point rubric for writing assignments, so it would be nice if my students just saw MS (Meets Standard) instead of a score.
    • Maybe the best solution would be to leave the built-in gradebook as-is, but allow users to replace it with a full featured gradebook. Integration with other services is something Edmodo does really well, so why not save yourself the hassle and outsource your gradebook (might I suggest LearnBoost).

    Calendar - It’s a nice idea, and I love that it automatically adds my assignments, but here’s what I need to really make it useful:

    • Make it public – My school has a web page where all teachers keep a calendar of their assignment due dates, so it would be great if I could embed a public version of my Edmodo calendar right there, at least as a start.
    • Enable CalDAV – Even better, just let me synch the Edmodo calendar with my other calendars! I’ve got calendars in Zimbra, Google, iCal and Edmodo; so far, the only one that doesn’t play nicely with the rest is Edmodo.
    • Alternatively, scrap the built-in calendar all together and let me choose an external calendar service (Google) to embed and update.

    Other Bits - All of the other little ideas floating around in my head:

    • Facebook-style “like” button – While I encourage thoughtful and constructive commentary on posts, there are some times when a solid thumbs up says it all. My students have suggested a “gold star” button, which I think is brilliant!
    • Sticky posts – When the wall gets busy, the important posts get pushed down into the abyss. A simple “sticky” check box would allow me to keep assignments or important posts visible until they are no longer pertinent.
    • A “Posts from the instructor” button – There’s no easy, built-in way for students to only view posts from their teacher(s). I’ve gotten around this using tags, but the system breaks down quickly when I forget to tag a post (which I do fairly often).
    • SSO – Make Edmodo a true one-stop-shop. I already embed Glogs, Animotos and Quizlets, how much better would life be if logging into Edmodo also logged you into all of those sites you use with Edmodo?

    If you’ve got features you’d like to see (of if you think my ideas are just plain batty), leave a comment.


  6. Edmodo Delivers on the Classroom-Without-Walls Promise

    April 5, 2011 by Josh Caldwell

    One of the great promises of educational technology is to “expand learning beyond the classroom walls.” Now, that can mean a lot of things, but I’ve long thought of it as a way to transform my paltry 55 minutes a day into a 24/7, full access, virtual learning extravaganza (okay, that may be a bit of a naïve exaggeration).

    To that end, I’ve tried all manner of tools to serve as my digital extension of my classroom, anything from full-fledged VLEs like Moodle, to wikis, blogs, and forums before finally discovering Edmodo. All have been successful to some extent, but nothing has come as close to my ideal of a true boundless learning environment as Edmodo; I’m regularly astonished by how much of their free-time my students are willing to spend on there! (more…)