Sunday, November 15, 2020

Earn Badges for GCSE English Language


Badges. They seem rather old fashioned, something of a throwback to Blyton times with class monitors and head girls replete with hockey sticks and a few shillings for the tuck shop. However, they are an excellent way to reward online students for activities they have completed on a GCSE English Language VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Badges are a great way of celebrating achievement and showing learner progress. There are plenty of things to learn when you study GCSE English so they can also act as a reminder of the ground you have covered so far – and where you need to get to in the future. Badges may be awarded based on a variety of chosen criteria and are displayed on a user's profile so that they can keep track of their successes while doing the online course.

We decided to develop a series of badges – you can see a selection of them above. However, knowing that our audience is predominantly young we chose to make them differ a little from expectations. There is a “traditional” badge you earn as soon as you complete the induction activities for the course - the “Induction Panda” badge which serves as a friendly hello from us to you. After that, the badges you earn may not adhere to anticipations.

There are, as you probably know, a number of assessment objectives for GCSE English Language. These are set by the government and are assessed in the exams. So, for example, Paper 1 Question 1 covers Assessment Objective 1 – “Identify and interpret explicit and implicit information and ideas”. Once you have completed a number of online activities you will get a badge to show that you are competent – but the badges may not necessarily be terribly impressed. You may well receive the ‘nonplussed pooch’ to show that while you have achieved something there is some way to go.

Doesn’t sound much like a reward! However, we hope that we have put enough humour into these badges to show learners that they have successfully completed a part of the course but there is some way to go! As students progress on the course they will achieve more badges, a number of which have names which will stretch the vocabulary of the learners. The hope is that they may go rushing to the dictionary to discover what, exactly, a “ravenous logophile” is and hopefully add these words to their vocabulary (and of course we have the Word Gym to help there too!).

The badges have taken on something of a life of their own – they can even get jealous of achievements. OK, so this is all rather silly. However, we recognize that working towards a qualification with just a computer in front of you can get a little tedious. It is hoped that that the badges will not only encourage learners to progress through the different elements of the course but that they will put smiles on faces as they are achieved.

Together with the different levels that learners can achieve on the course (our “Level Up!” feature) plus the games that can be played on the VLE, it perhaps all sound a little too much like fun. While it may not turn reluctant learners into “ravenous logophiles” overnight, it is our hope that it will help.

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