Sunday, July 21, 2013

Purdue Veterinary Medicine Digital Badges Aim to Excite Youth and Expand Their Knowledge

by Rebecca Itow

Purdue Veterinary Medicine has designed a digital badge system to challenge Kindergarten through high school students to earn digital badges as they learn about veterinary medicine. The PVM Digital Badge system is open to any K-12 student. Youth engage with veterinary medical content online or at PVM events, and then take a short (usually multiple choice) quiz for the chance to earn their badge. This looks the start of a second wave of new projects using digital badge beyond the DML Badges for Lifelong Learning. I am particularly curious about their assessment practices in light of what I learned studying the assessment practices across the 30 DML awardees.  Plus with its campus-wide Passport badging system, Purdue really seems out in front of other universities when it comes to digital badges.

Like many of the badge systems we have observed in the DML Badges for Lifelong Learning awardees, PVM Digital Badges are “leveled” as opposed to implementing a “flat” badging system. There are four categories of badges that can be earned, increasing in level of difficulty as the levels increase. Discover PVM Badges can be earned by engaging with content at the college online or by attending PVM events. PVM Explorer Badges show the dedication a student has to learning about veterinary medicine, and can be earned attending specified events or reading certain texts and answering questions about them. PVM Leader Badges can be earned by showing “significant learning” about veterinary medicine. The challenges for these badges are still being developed. The PVM Black & Gold Champion Badge is a special badge still under development that will represent the highest achievement youth can learn. It will be interesting to see if these badges will be associated with more challenging assessments, or of they will just require earning a certain number of the other badges by passing quizzes. 

PVM Digital Badges are housed in Purdue’s Open Passport platform. Here, earned badges are stored, shared, and can be pushed out to the Mozilla Backpack. Earners can set up a profile that can be customized with a picture, bio, and custom URL, and can be connected to other social network profiles. 

PVM Digital Badges seem to present an excellent opportunity for youth to get excited about veterinary medicine or help learners already intrigued by the field to further their interests and expand their knowledge. It will be exciting to see how PVM Digital Badges develop as the badge levels are further refined, new challenges are set up for students, and youth earn badges and push them to their backpacks.

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