During the Winter 2014 term, 60 M-STEM Academy students used a Learning Technologies Incubation Group (LTIG)-developed digital badging application to earn awards for competencies acquired outside of the traditional classroom setting. Student focus group input helped in the application's design, and a contest was held amongst the students to find a name for the application. MBlem was the choice.
The M-STEM program aims to increase the number of students pursuing and graduating with degrees in engineering, increase student diversity, and provide students with skills needed within the STEM workforce of the 21st century. Using MBlem, coordinators create digital badges, students apply for badge awards, and reviewers assess and make awards or return incomplete applications. MBlem has a social component in that all students can see what each other are doing, for example, who has earned which awards.
A digital badge consists of an image, and criteria defining what skills, accomplishments, and reflections must be demonstrated to earn the badge. M-STEM badges are organized into categories and tiers mapped onto the Bloom's Taxonomy. Students can export their badge awards to the Mozilla Backpack using the Open Badge infrastructure (OBI). This lets them organize and share badges from MBlem as well as badges from other systems supporting the OBI.
Work continues on MBlem to accommodate multiple programs. Housing, UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program), Library Instruction, and others have expressed interest in using MBlem. Plans are to open MBlem to about 450 Engineering students in the Fall 2014, and possibly to other interested groups. LIT Core Services is providing the infrastructure, and the LIT UX group has helped with UI and accessibility issues. Steve Lonn (MLib L&T) is the PI and coordinator for the pilot developed in part under a UM Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC) Quick Wins Grant Awarded September 2013.