Posts Tagged ‘SNO’

h1

Badges, we need badges

September 30, 2019

 

 

Many of today’s students –certainly not all– come to school with the mindset of “what is the minimum I have to do to pass this course.” I understand why, they have busy social lives and probably a full schedule, some even have part-time jobs that eat into their day. But school should not be a chore, it should be an opportunity to learn as much as you can.


Students would rise in the ranks from Intern, to Cub Reporter, to Byline Reporter, to Columnist, to Editor, to Publisher by earning points.


How do we motivate students to do that? Well, there are a lot of experiments going on, such as flipped classrooms, but they do not really address the question of motivation. I’ve long advocated the concept of gamification of teaching. That is not to say education should be a game, but we can use game elements to help motivate students.

In fact, one mass media survey course assignment I use when teaching is a group exercise where, as part of the assignment, the team of students develops a game to demonstrate what they have learned.

And even before I even knew the word gamification I created a game-like simulation to help teach news gathering and news writing skills (see CITYCOUNCIL). That project, first created in HyperCard for the Mac in 1989, has since been ported to a website. It takes students through the notes of “last night’s” city council meeting. Students can also call and interview sources for a story that they are to write. The story can follow one of up to 12 story lines, or be more complex and cover all the main actions from the meeting. (I used it as a major assignment that used  a multi-element lead where the student combined similar actions by theme; it was based on a city council meeting I actually covered while working for a newspaper.) While a bit dated, it is still used by journalism classes and political science classes for free.

The project dominating the creative half of my brain these days is a newspaper mystery game designed to promote the social media sites of student publications. I’ll write about it later.

Another idea I have thought about for a long time is to create an in-house gamification tool to motivate student publication students to do more than the minimum. It would take an idea from online games that is gaining popularity in STEM programs: competency badges.

It is also an idea I was first introduced to in my short stint in the Boy Scouts of American as a kid.


If I were to actually create the badge system for student publications I would probably develop at least four families of badges: one for writing and editing, one for photography, one for design, and one for multimedia development.

The badge system could be tied into grading for thew course, or be a separate entity within the course.


Much like the concept of levels in a digital game, badges allow users to get more powerful the more badges they earn for the experiences they have in the game. In Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs, the idea is being developed to have students earn competency badges they can carry with them to the work world. An automotive repair student might earn, for instance, a badge in carburetor rebuilding by demonstrating the minimum level of skills in a course. By earning the badge, which verifies the student’s skill, an employer does not have to rely on a glorified resumé or exaggerated interview.

The same could be done in a beginning news writing course where the student could earn badges in interviewing, lead writing, AP Style, etc. My current idea is to create a badge system for student publication sites to encourage students to do more than just the minimum amount of work.

If I were to actually create the badge system for student publications I would probably develop at least four families of badges: one for writing and editing, one for photography, one for design, and one for multimedia development. Of course, there could be multiple families in any of these four areas. For instance, in writing and editing, you could develop sub families for news, sports, opinion, and features/arts/entertainment. In multimedia you could split design, audio/podcasting, and video/vodcasting.

Rather than competencies by tests or demonstrated skill, I think the motivation would come from getting students to trying more and more. For each story the student could earn points by completing a story that goes into print, goes online, is promoted through social media, re-shared, and for online views or Twitter reposting. I’d also look at other elements of a story for added points: Is there an illustration/photo with the story? Did the reporter actually interview someone for the story or merely aggregate news from other media sources (reward actually interviewing multiple sources)? Were there even any sources at all? Maybe true headline writing could be factored in –so many headlines today are merely descriptions and not true headlines.

The badge system could be tied into grading for thew course, or be a separate entity within the course.

Students would rise in the ranks from Intern, to Cub Reporter, to Byline Reporter, to Columnist, to Editor, to Publisher by earning points. Make the jump from Intern to Cub Reporter easier than from Columnist to Editor. The more stories they do, and the more skills they display in those stories, the higher they climb. By creating an in-house game, you encourage students to do more. As a colleague of mine once pointed out to me, quantity does not mean quality, but quantity leads to opportunity, and opportunity can lead to quality. Reward the students for displaying admirable journalistic qualities.

A lot of student publications today use WordPress as a backbone for the online site. That makes it logical to start such an idea by creating a WordPress plug-in. And since organizations like School Newspapers Online  host a lot of student newspapers, it would be a logical organization to develop such a tool.

The plugin would need to scan the site and somehow scan the story (say, for sources), or allow an instructor or editor to enter a value. It would probably also have to scan other media sites, which could be self-indentified in the site setup to do as much automated calculating as possible, and then develop reports and award badges at predefined stages. Some manual input might need to be available for print versions of a story or design. A visual badge of the student’s current level could be displayed by the story’s or photo’s byline.

Advertisements