ForAllBadges for Hackasaurus

Hackasaurus Supergirl

As a pilot test of ForAllBadges we’ve implemented support for issuing Hackasaurus badges. For folks not already familiar with Hackasaurus, it is a fantastic open source project developed by Mozilla that is part of their effort to build a generation of webmakers. A central component of their project are events called Hack jams that “make hacking and digital literacy accessible, social and fun.” It is a really nice first pilot for us, since it has a small and well-defined badge system included as part of their Hacktivity kit (much thanks to Daniel Hickey for directing me to Hackasaurus as a great resource for experimenting with badges).

As part of a Hack jam participants are able to collect paper badges. As described in the Hacktivity Kit:

At the end of a module, participants will “pledge” or apply for badges to gain specific super powers. They must successfully complete the pledged task in front of a peer mentor or facilitator who will award them the badge to show they’ve earned their superpower.

Our goal is to implement digital badges in a way that enhances the Hack jam experience and also integrates with Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI). Integrating technology into a live interactive experience so that it doesn’t interfere with the fun, is a lot harder than you might think at first. So we’re hoping to get feedback on our design and improve the implementation over time.

Our implementation of ForAllBadges for Hackasaurus has two components:

  • A mobile app for use by facilitators and peer mentors at the Hack jam while wandering around and interacting with participants. We’re thinking that a BYOT (“Bring-your-own-technology”) approach will be most practical. Currently we support iOS devices (iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads) but we are planning to add support for more platforms.
  • A browser based application for use by participants, facilitators, peer mentors and organizers for managing badges and participants, including publishing badges to the OBI Backpack.

Screenshots of Mobile App

View Participants

Add Participant with Photo

Choose Badge to Award

Add Evidence and Comments

Issue a Custom Badge with Custom Badge Details

Screenshots of Website

For now we have defined three roles for the website:

Participants can view the “Badge Board” with the badges that have been issued to all the participants. They can view the details of badges and send their own badges to their Mozilla Badge Backpack.

Facilitators can view and issue participants’ badges. They can also administer participant information.

Administrators can do every thing a facilitator can do and also can manage information about events, facilitators and participants.

Our Implementation
Both the website and the mobile app are written using HTML5. The mobile app uses the open source PhoneGap platform. The website uses Python/Django/Javascript. For now the mobile app only works online and you need internet access. With our ForAllSchools platform we can provide offline access too, but for a Hack jam it seems better to keep all the information synchronized and internet access has to be available for the Hack jam anyhow.


We’re posting this information because we’re interested in getting feedback. Please let us know your thoughts! Also if you’re organizing a Hackasaurus event and want to try out our software, just let us know and we’ll get you set up.

6 thoughts on “ForAllBadges for Hackasaurus

  1. Karen and friends–
    This is awesome! As soon as Rebecca and Ellen and I wrap up the semester, we are going to turn our attention to our June 7 Hack Jam. And this is just what we needed to get us started. I love the phone app. However it is sure to make my 14 year old son Luc even madder that I have a smart phone and he does not. (Data plans are for people with jobs!)

    I love the point that “Integrating technology into a live interactive experience so that it doesn’t interfere with the fun, is a lot harder than you might think at first.” I am just giddy with excitement over the energy and enthusiasm in the OBI community right now. We are on the verge of something REALLY big. But it is going to be messy and complicated. Fortunately most of the messing around will occur in less formal learning contexts (like hackjams) where the stakes are low, participation is voluntary, and informed consent is optional.

  2. Here is a question for you. Would it be possible to make three different versions of individual badges, representing advancing levels of accomplishment? One of the things we want to explore in our hackjam is the participatory reflection model that emerged in our collaboration with Project New Media Literacies. The specific participatory assessment design principles is “Assess reflections rather than artifacts.” Assessing actual artifacts is a relatively summative practice and so requires detailed rubrics that can spawn corrosive arguments that undermine shared participation.

    We are envisioning three levels, perhaps bronze, silver, and gold. Bronze for simply completing that activity or artifact, silver for posing a high quality reflection, and gold for a reflection and artifact that ones peers have judged to be particularly worthwhile. Across several current participatory assessment projects we have discovered a really cool trick: ask them to reflect on how the way they did the activity or artifact (i.e., the “context”) impacted what they learned about the underlying concepts and skills.

    So, for example, we might ask hackjammers how the particular friend, character, or superhero that they chose to write about impact what they learned about writing for the web. If you ask them about it when they first choose, they won’t know the answer. But it sets them up to begin discussing it once the activity is underway and they are all participating in the actual activity. This in turn makes it easy for them to reflect on it formally once they finish the activity. The cool thing is that they really can’t produce the formal reflection without having or gaining understanding of the concept. So voila, you have both enduring understanding and evidence of that understanding without ruining the fun.

    this idea was inspired by a chapter on situativity and assessment by Jim Greeno and Melissa Gresalfi. What we are starting to prove in our other projects is that the contexts represented by the different projects are more concrete and easier for learners to discuss than the abstract concepts and haptic skills. This is really important for the less-experienced learners who want to participate in the discussion but are intimidated by the more experienced participants.

    Sorry this is a bit long, but I wanted to get it out there because I hope you can help us test this idea out in our hackjam.

  3. Daniel,

    Thanks for the kind words! We can easily do what you’re asking. Some thoughts…

    For what you’re trying to accomplish, you might want to flip things around. From what you wrote here and Rebecca Itow wrote on your blog, it sounds like your plan is to have the artifact badge automatically awarded once they complete the activity or create the artifact, the reflection badge be awarded by the facilitator and the Gold badge would be awarded by peers.

    Another approach could be to have the students award themselves the artifact badge and the artifact badge would include the artifact as evidence. Then during the writing process, as they read over their artifact and while they’re reading peer’s artifacts and reflections, students could also award themselves multiple reflection badges where the reflection would be written as part of the badge. Students could even award themselves multiple artifact badges as they did rewrites. The Gold badge could be a lot like the current Hackasaurus badges where the student pledges for their Superpower and the facilitator comes by and reviews their work and either awards the badge or explains what other things they could think about and work on. When they do award the badge, the facilitator could write comments and provide feedback (perhaps as a grade). The Superpower badge could be the badge that they can export to the Badge Backpack and display on Facebook or their WordPress blog.

    Some considerations for why I came up with this approach:

    – It could encourage more cooperation among students and avoid some of the competition for levels of badges. It promotes intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

    – It could help students focus on the writing/reflection/revision process and provide scaffolding for the development of that process.

    – It can provide a record of their writing/reflection/revision process so as they participate in these sorts of activities overtime, they can look back and see the progress they’ve made in terms of their writing and their writing process.

  4. We have support for uploading student rosters built into the system, but we have it hidden right now since we weren’t sure whether it was needed. If you would like to use it, we can make it available.

  5. Pingback: New Version of ForAllBadges for iOS & Android « The Forall Systems Blog

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