Case Study Folkeuniversitetets Fagskolen
Fagskolen is a VET providing Higher Vocational Training in the fields of healthcare, early years care, logistics, bookkeeping and management. It offers a range of different courses, some of which include an obligatory internship period.
Running a Pilot Badge Project will enable Fagskolen to test the hypotheses that digital badges can help students to find a relevant internship place. Students need to find their own internships and competition is high between Fagskolen's students and students from other VET schools.
The Pilot badge project has several main aims. In addition to generally raising awareness of Digital Badges across the organisation and business clients, a pilot badge project will also be an opportunity to test the technical capabilities and integration with the school's Learning Management System (LMS). The pilot project will allow for feedback on User and Client's impressions of Digital Badges and will help to ascertain whether awarding digital badges will add value to both users and collaborating internship organisations. A further aim with the pilot is to understand how skills and competencies can be tracked on a learning pathway and which elements may be useful for users, and whether digital badges will present possibilities for add-on sales through use of Learning pathways.
What Fagskolen did
A project group consisting of members of the Learning Design Team in the parent company - Folkeuniversitetet, was formed to implement the digital badge Pilot Project. This group had previously considered ideas for utilising digital badges in Folkeuniversitetet on similar work-related courses, so used that as a starting point for the pilot project in Fagskolen, and a Project Canvas was completed. Previous meetings with the management team in Fagskolen had indicated that recognition of soft skills and personal competences could help students to secure an internship, so this would be an interesting - and useful - pilot for digital badges. Following research into badges and badge earning criteria in other Erasmus + projects (Share The Badge), two badges were chosen for the pilot; Collaboration (teamwork) and Reliability. Example badges were made, the criteria for gaining a badge was aligned with the criteria used by Share Methodology, and the badges were designed and integrated into the organisation's LMS (Moodle) using Badgr as the badge solution.
A presentation incorporating both the badge concept and the two sample badges for the pilot was made and teachers were called into an online meeting about the pilot project. Whilst all teachers were invited to the meeting, only a very small number attended. The teachers had never heard of digital badges before, so the concept was presented to them, along with an idea of how the project group envisaged Digital Badges in Fagskolen. The project group had already acknowledged that the support of the teachers was integral to the success of the project, however had maybe failed to predict all of the arguments that the teachers raised in the meeting:
- More work - they did not have enough time for this
- A reference from a teacher was the reward for diligent students. A digital badge was not necessary.
- Digital Badges for "hard" skills such as using MS Word and other Office Applications would be more useful for students.
The project group experienced that the project lacked momentum and there wasn't enough enthusiasm for getting the pilot established. That the badge idea received a luke warm reception from the teachers made it difficult for further progress, and the project was parked indefinitely. Without the support of influential individuals in the management group, the project group did not have the confidence to start the pilot as they felt that results would not be optimal and may be detrimental to starting up a badge initiative in the future.
In Retrospect... Lessons learned
Identify the stakeholders or individuals which are integral to your pilot. If your project needs a certain group - or a person - to be "on board," consider how you will present your concept to them.
Be aware that a pilot project may involve (or be perceived to involve) additional work for some parties. Think about how you can mitigate an additional workload for the individuals administering your pilot.
Ensure that you not only identify stakeholders in your Pilot project, but also that you involve them in planning your pilot. In Fagskolen, the course tutors had different suggestions about the most useful types of badges to issue to the course participants that the project team had considered. This led to delays in the launch, as the badge portfolio that had been completed needed to be re-considered. Involve Stakeholders early on.