Badging Adventures Part 3 – The Details

This is the 3rd part of a series I am writing about using Badges and Hyperdocs in my ICT class. For the Why behind this project see Blog Post 1, and for an overview of What I used to set things up see Blog Post 2.

The plan for this post is to describe in detail how I used the Digital Badges Google Sheets Add-On to add Digital Badges to my Web Authoring course. I came across this add-on after trying numerous other add-ons and extensions that were really cool, but too finicky. In a nutshell, what the Digital Badges Add-On does is allow you to assign badges to students in a Google Sheet and have the pdf badge show up in their Google Drive file. If you want they can also get an email alerting them to the fact that they have received a badge.

How the Digital Badges Add-On Works

The first time you Launch the Digital Badges Add-On it will add two tabs to the Google Sheet: Pupil details and Badge details. Once you made your badges in Google Drawings all you have to do is cut and paste the unique id part of each Drawing URL to the Badge details sheet. This is what mine looks like:

Next, you add headings to the Pupil details sheet that match the badge names in the Badge Details sheet. You also need to each student’s name, school email address and class. I exported this information from our school LMS as an excel file and cut and paste it in, which did not take much time. You then click a Generate Folders button and a folder is created in each student’s Google Drive folder where their badges will show up once they are awarded. NOTE: the paths to all these folders AND the master folder with the original badges are also in the Pupil Details sheet, they are just hidden. When they are unhidden it looks like this:

Assigning badges is really easy. All you have to do it type a “Y” into the relevant cell and once you run the Add-On it will change the “Y to the word “Copied” and generate a pdf version of the badge in the relevant student’s Drive folder.

How I Tweaked the Add-On to make a Mentor Board

I am not a big fan of the Leaderboard. While I recognise there is a place for competition I am not convinced it is helpful in the classroom. I am, however, interested in the idea of making learning visible so that everyone in the classroom can be recognised for their achievements. With this in mind, I wanted to have a Mentor Board as part of my badging ecosystem. The way I framed it for the students was that the Mentor Board was the place to go looking for help from other students who had already earned the badge. I had mixed results with this approach, which will be the subject of Blog Post 4. For this post, I want to outline the tweaks I made to the Digital Badges Google Sheet in order to semi-automate the creation of a Mentor Board in a Google Doc that was embedded in a page of the BadgeSite I created for this unit.

To make this Doc I added an extra Sheet to the Digital Badges Google Sheet that I called Mentor Board. I then linked all the cells of the Mentor Board sheet to the Pupil Details sheet so that they would update when the Pupil Details sheet was updated. I did this so that I could play around without accidentally interfering with the Digital Badges Add-On. In the Mentor Board sheet, I added an extra column called Badge # and used a Count If function to count up the number of times the word “Copied” appeared in each row.

This gave me an easy way to sort student progress by the number of badges they had earned. The table looked like this:

To make the Mentor Board look better I then added some Conditional Formatting to the cells so that if the word Copied was in it the Background and Text colour were both yellow.

The final step was to paste the Mentor Board into a Google Doc and link them so that it only took 1 click to update the Doc with new Badge information.

My Add-On Wish List

While this workflow was far from perfect, it worked quite well once I got the hang of it. However, I have had a number of teachers express an interest in trying something similar but am very aware that the workflow currently involves too many clicks. Ideally, I would like to try and automate a few more of the processes that it took to make it work. With that in mind, these are the steps I had to follow to update the Mentor Board after assigning badges.

  • Select all cells of the Mentor Board. (1 click with)
  • Click Data – Sort range – Data has header row – Z-A – sort by # Badges – Sort (6 clicks)

  • Open linked Google Doc (2 clicks if already bookmarked)
  • Click refresh button on Google Doc (1 click)

I suspect that a lot of this could be automated using Google Apps Script but this is where I am coming up against the limitations of my technical knowledge. If anyone with this knowledge happens to come across this post and wants to offer some advice it would be much appreciated.

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