Case Study Bonaventura Agora Leiden
Agora Leiden is an institution for secondary education. Despite the fact that students obtain a regular diploma, the path towards the diploma is not regular. The students learn through their own invented challenges. As a result, they learn many other skills in addition to theoretical knowledge.
Agora wants to offer students the opportunity to build a digital portfolio of the skills they accrue. In this way, students can show the total package of acquired skills in addition to their diploma. In 2022, Agora started a pilot in which students could earn badges for technical and entrepreneurial skills within a number of modules.
What Agora Leiden did
There was a small project group within the school consisting of a teacher and an education developer who drafted the project plan in which purpose, gains and deliverables were defined. The project plan was then discussed and agreed upon by the education team and a few students. This was important to involve the internal stakeholders and create support. The entire education team attended a workshop in which the badge system was explained. The original idea was that students could claim a badge throughout the module and award badges to all teachers.
In a brainstorming session, the teaching team thought about what is learned in the chosen pilot module and how this can be captured in badges. An important consideration was what Agora wants to pass on to students and what Agora wants to be known for.
An external party was asked to supervise the badges process and to provide the technical design for the badge system. Agora chose this because there was limited time to find out for themselves what the possibilities were. In order for the pilot to succeed, the starting point was to make working with badges as accessible as possible. Agora choose to work with Badgecraft because up to 100 users it is free, the platform is translated to Dutch and there is an app in which students can claim badges. The students participating in the module were given a demonstration of the badge system in a meeting, and each created an account and were given access to the badge collections.
Financing of the pilot was arranged through the education innovation subsidy of the municipality of Leiden.
In addition, the municipality was involved as a partner at the same time, which was important for building the network of trust. In the innovation program a lot of other projects were involved so this gave Agora opportunity to connect and build the digital badges network.
In practice it turned out to be difficult for students to claim badges during the module. A separate moment of reflection was needed. At the end of the module, a separate meeting for students was organized with some of the teachers involved. This meeting reflected on the activities and what was learned. The students explained their learning process on the basis of tasks in the badge system. The teachers could immediately view the submitted assignments and determine whether they were sufficient to earn a badge. The students became motivated to earn badges because they saw immediate results and saw their fellow students earn badges.
In Retrospect... Lessons learned
Use external support wherever it can be beneficial. As the project was funded by the municipality, this created the financial space to develop and start the pilot. Using experts to advise on the technical implementation of a badging system, allowed the pilot to start up much more quickly than if the project team needed to research badge possibilities from scratch.
Make your pilot an iterative process - learn from it! Agora found that the joint reflection moment had more benefits than individual badge claiming moments underway, so it will be used with future badges, rather than students earning badges throughout the module.
Be open to networking opportunities. Building a network of trust is integral to the success of any badging project, so tell others about your project, even when you are in the pilot stage.