As part of the upcoming Blackboard upgrade a new feature called Achievements will be made available. This tool allows staff to create digital badges that can be awarded to students, either manually or automatically according to a defined set of criteria, to either recognise student achievement or provide them with a way to track their progress within a module.
While there are Achievements for completing the module, probably more interesting and useful are the ‘Milestone’ ones that are used during the module. Combinations of different criteria can be used when setting the rules for a particular Milestone, including dates and membership of particular groups, but the most useful are likely to be the ones related to assessments and course content. These final criterion-types can be used to encourage students to engage with formative tests and additional materials within the module, by issuing an Achievement if they view all the supplementary readings or obtain a defined minimum mark in all of the formative tests. As the tool includes a report on who has obtained each Achievement, then a combined rule that is triggered when a student looks at some specific resources and achieves a threshold mark in a test can also be a simple way for lecturers using a Flipped model to check engagement prior to the face-to-face session.
A further option with the Achievements is whether or not students can see ones that they have yet to obtain. While receiving unexpected Achievements is likely to give students a pleasant surprise, making them available beforehand is likely to have a greater effect. This is because the students can look at the rules and check their progress against them, helping them to see what tasks in the module they need to complete and focusing their time and attention on those parts that the lecturer feels are most valuable or cohesive.
Finally, the Achievements can be exported to the Mozilla Open Badges platform. This allows the students to collect their badges and share them with family, friends and prospective employers. Therefore, with careful planning by lecturers and thoughtful curation by students, a rich, verified picture of a student’s strengths can be made available to interested parties.
The Achievements tool can be found under ‘Site Tools’ in the left hand menu and further information can be found in Blackboard’s online help.