23 Jul

I shamelessly got the idea for Digificates from John Davitt’s Minificates. These are small, thumbnail-sized certificates which reward different behaviours, such as good listening, or clever movement! They are stuck into a book, or left on the desk, and provide an instantaneous positive feedback.

I heard about minificates at John Davitt’s superb address at the ICT in the Classroom Conference in Johannesburg in July, and I have been mulling them over in my mind. I have also been thinking about gamification in education, and wondering how to go about exploiting it.

The other day I was teaching JavaScript to grade 9s, and we were completing steps in building a JavaScript Calculator. At each step successfully completed, I started calling out, “Congratulations, you are now Level 2 Programmers!” and so on. The class was much more responsive than usual. Clearly using the levelling up idea was working. Instead of giving up, those battling to get their scripts to work were desperately seeking help so that they too could advance a level. I suddenly remembered John’s minificates and kicked myself for not having thought of printing some out to use in this situation. Like most good ideas, this had come to me on the spur of the moment.

After the class I got to thinking about the waste of paper that printed minificates would represent, and the idea of a digificate, or small digital certificate came to me. How neat it would be if your level could be displayed next to your avatar as in role-play games. I quickly realised that I was getting ahead of myself. I needed something I could implement quickly and easily, that wouldn’t occupy all my time trying to programme! I decided to design a number of digital certificates, which I could then email to students at appropriate moments. These certificates would be in graphic format so that students could upload them onto Moodle, for example, as their avatar if they so wished, allowing them to boast about their achievement. I created the certificate as a transparent gif so that students could use PhotoShop to overlay the certificate on their avatar if they so wished.

They are easy to edit and store in a folder. I will be awarding the first batch in a few days, so I can’t wait to see what kind of reception they get.


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