Rewards & Recognition: CoderDojo Digital Badges

Meet Ruby, she is a CoderDojo attendee that has developed an interest in building websites and3D printing. She has been attending her Dojo, which is hosted in a MakerSpace, once a week for the past 3 years. During this time she has taught herself, with the support of mentors, how to fully create and host her own website. She has recently moved on to learning all about designing and 3D printing. All these skills she has learnt via self directed learning in the informal learning setting created and supported by  the mentors at her local CoderDojo.

 

Rewards & Recognition in a Dojo Setting

Dojos are environments that are centered around encouraging and inspiring self directed learning and peer to peer learning in young people by giving them the tools and supports to do so. Students who perceive themselves as being in control of their learning often develop greater confidence and increased self esteem! Young people are learning a whole host of new skills at their Dojo, yet in many cases these skills are not being recognised or rewarded.  

Implementing a reward and recognition system in a Dojo can be a challenge. Some Champions are concerned that it may begin to emulate a formal learning environment which is not the goal! From the 2016 Annual Survey, 47% of Dojos globally are using a method of rewarding and recognition. Methods such as  end of term certificates, presenting USB belts for certain level of achievements, or the use of either digital or physical badges can assist with recognising achievements of the young people while keep them motivated and engaged.

Digital Badges

Digital Badges are the most scalable and low cost (free!) option for Dojos looking to introduce a simple method. But first what is a digital badge?

Digital Badges are defined as “a special or distinctive mark, token, or device worn as a sign of allegiance, membership, authority or achievement.” They are used by many different organisations as an awards and acknowledgment system for skills that an individual has acquired. They are almost like a digital version of a scouting badges, there purpose is to acknowledge and recognise the skills and achievements that are not normally recognised.  

Awarding Digital Badges

Awarding and acknowledging youth at CoderDojo is also a core part of the CoderDojo ethos. These reasons are why we have developed CoderDojo Digital Badges. The badges available coincide with all Sushi Content that has been released here.

The aim is for young people at CoderDojo to claim these badges when they have achieved a set list of tasks assigned to each badge that defines the skill level associated with the tasks representing their newly obtained skills!

 

See how you can start using the digital badges here.

Top Tips For Awarding Digital Badges

  • Setting Goals: By Awarding badges on a semi regular occasion, once a month, once a quarter or at the end of a typical ‘term’. This gives ninjas the opportunity to work towards that date as a goal.
  • Award both the hard technical skills such as ‘My First website’ but also the soft skills. Such as encouraging awarding  youth ninjas that are mentoring others the Mentor Badge.
  • Consider creating a physical badge for ninjas to collect and wear at the Dojo.  This can be done by printing copies of the digital badges and laminating or putting in lanyard pouches or similar.
  • Always award and encourage effort, this can be done by using attendance based badges for regular ninjas who are committed to learning and growing through their Dojo. One the ninja is registered on the community platform this will be done automatically once they are booked AND checked in at the event.

 

Why is it important?

Awarding ninjas badges for their achievements in a Dojo allows them to build a digital portfolio showcasing not only their ability but the new skills that they have learnt at their local Dojo. These portfolios can assist them in the future for gaining work experience, job applications and for college applications. In addition badging gives ninjas a sense of connection and membership to other ninjas in their Dojo and the wider CoderDojo movement through cultivating the community.

Other Badge Resources:

Badge Criteria Posters for Scratch and HTML are available here, which you can hang up in your Dojo to encourage ninjas to continue developing their skills.

Turning your badges into physical badges, see how to make the badges ninjas can earn on the platform into real badges they can wear and decorate here!


If you have any questions or would like to discuss rewarding and acknowledging new skills learnt by youth at CoderDojo please join the conversation on the CoderDojo Forums here.


Quotes from: Open Badges for Lifelong Learning. Authors: The Mozilla Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University, in collaboration with The MacArthur Foundation, available here.

 

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