Examples of badges awarded to students

Open Badges supporting Intercultural Language learning in a MOOC

Mozilla’s Open Badge infrastructure is the basis for an innovative approach to supporting the recognition of the skills acquisition taking place when language students and staff engage in computer-mediated communication as part of Online Intercultural Exchange (OIE). The challenges to the adoption of international telecollaborative activity have been well documented [1] yet there is widespread agreement that telecollaboration is a viable pedagogical model that extends the intercultural experiences for those involved and serves the goal of virtual mobility in higher education.

The Language Centre, part of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Warwick, has been engaged in a successful virtual exchange through OIE known as the Clavier project for the past 4 years. The Clavier virtual exchange is a large scale engagement involving more than 900 participants between two higher education institutions in France and England. The participants have access to a shared course area, EWC (Echange Warwick Clermont) and the tutors and mentors also have access to a staff course area ewcs (Echange Warwick Clermont staff course area). The tasks include information exchange and collaborative co-creation and cross the boundaries between formal and informal learning, using social media tools such as Twitter and Google + alongside the shared portal (in a Moodlerooms Joule environment). The project supports both student and staff transversal literacies development[2], with the tasks embedded in the scheme of work situating the technical learning within the disciplinary context.

This year for the first time open badges have been deployed within the EWC and ewcs areas and collaborating researchers, Teresa MacKinnon and Mirjam Haulk have drawn on the experience in order to elaborate a framework for OIE badge deployment which draws on the work of Cross and Galley on badges and the learning arc. Examining the theoretical perspectives of OIE in the light of the learning from MOOCs and badging and then grounding them in the real experiences of deployment produced important insights into the essential considerations for the soft certification of the skill set required in order to collaborate effectively online with international peers. The badges reward and motivate participants as they acquire necessary sub-skills such as social presence and identity management in order to communicate and build trust-based relationships internationally. The project reveals the potential impact on staff development when both staff and student learning is combined and recognised. The findings will be disseminated at the Suny Coil Conference, New York in March and (subject to acceptance) at Eurocall 2015 in Padova and as a chapter in a forthcoming publication by Routledge.

[1] See for example MacKinnon, T. (2013). Using e-tools to facilitate international collaboration and enhance language teaching.

[2] See DeSeCo project

Teresa MacKinnon, University of Warwick, T.MacKinnon@warwick.ac.uk

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