PILOT your digital badging system
Trial and iteration
Once you have completed your Project Canvas and chosen a technical solution for your badging programme, it is important to test out your badges in a restricted arena, so that you can make iterative amendments before rolling out to a wider audience. In the pilot stage, you will present your proposed badges to your stakeholders, and introduce the badging concept to your (l)earners.
Before running your pilot, you will need to make decisions about:
1. How many badges will you pilot? From our research on different badge projects, the clue to success seems to be start small. Choose two or three badges which could have a noticeable impact on your earners and start with these. Start with some 'easy' badges; to what do you already give recognition in your organisation, where is the energy to start this?
2. How many people will be in the pilot project? Considerations need to be made both from the number of staff implementing the pilot, and the number of potential badge earners for the trial.
Use external support wherever needed - funding, advice, technical knowledge. This can save time and resources for getting the pilot started.
3. Will participation be voluntary, or will it apply to a whole group / class irrespective of whether they wish to participate? Consider whether the pilot project will be directed at a specific group or whether you will also test out interest for digital credentials by making participation voluntary.
4. How will you present the badging concept? What kind of information will you produce to participants? The information you provide to your stakeholders may be integral to your pilot's success. You will have already considered your Stakeholders in Step 2, but maybe not all will be involved in the pilot. You will need some key people to promote the pilot, so these should be influential both with those who will implement the project and the target group of badge earners.
You need "believers" to get a badge project off the ground. Use the energy of badge believers to motivate stakeholders in the pilot project.
5. How will you gather feedback from the pilot participants? How will your badge earners let you know their impressions of the pilot? Feedback should be collected in a structured and documented way to ensure that you are aware of any weaknesses in your project plan and can make improvements to overcome these.
Ensure that you consider implications of the pilot on all parties. It is probable that a Pilot will involve extra work for some, so have an idea of how to mitigate this during the pilot period.
6. Learn from your Pilot Project! Use your pilot to find out what works best for your organisation.
As positive as it is that these developments are paving the way to make it easier to use Digital Badges on a larger scale, there is still a way to go. But that doesn't make it hopeless to start with Digital Badges now. We have seen great examples where 'believers' started with digital badges in their organisations as they can see the potential impact for their learners.
Check with your stakeholders that your badge proposals align with their needs before investing time in badge design. Involve stakeholders early on!