Motivational effects of open badges in MOOCs. A learner perception study in OpenVM Learning Hub and MiriadaX

Ilona Buchem, Oriol Borrás Gené


Open Badges have become a metadata standard that has been used to transform digital credentialing practices in learning contexts including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Badges may be designed and used in diverse ways to enhance learner motivation in MOOCs. However, empirical research about the motivational effects of the badging process has been limited to anecdotal evidence. Objective: The goal of this study was to explore the motivational effects of open badges in MOOCs. The primary research question was whether and how open badges motivate participants to: a) learn in MOOCs, b) to complete MOOCs, and c) to use Open Badges outside of the MOOC environment. Method: An exploratory learner perception study was conducted in two platforms: OpenVM and MiriadaX. Both platforms issue Open Badges to recognize learning outcomes in MOOCs. The research sample included 1788 participants with diverse backgrounds, who participated in OpenVM (n = 1412) and in MiriadaX (n = 376) courses. Learner perceptions were self-reported via two online surveys, which included an aligned set of items in English (OpenVM) and Spanish (MiriadaX). Results: The findings show that regardless of the MOOC platform, the topic of the course and the language of instruction, MOOC participants were motivated by open badges, especially by an adequate description of the skills developed in the MOOCs. A regression analysis indicated that an adequate skill description in the open badges had the greatest predictive value for motivation to learn in MOOCs and to complete the course (r2 = 56.3%). The instrument with five items showed high internal consistency (α = 0.92).

Keywords: MOOC, Open Badges, micro-credentials, motivation, competencies, skills


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Ilona Buchem

The author is Professor for Media and Communication at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Faculty I Economics and Social Sciences. She holds a PhD in Business Education from Humboldt University and a Certificate in Business Administration from St. Gallen University, Switzerland. Her research and teaching focus on fostering collaboration and communication through digital media. Ilona Buchem has led a number of research projects and strategic partnerships, including Social Robotics (Erasmus+, Mobility Program, 2019-2023), Open Virtual Mobility (Erasmus+/strategic Partnership, 2017-2020), Open Badge Network (Erasmus+, strategic Partnership, 2013-2017), BeuthBonus and CreditPoints (Qualification Programs for Migrant Academics, German Federal Program "Integration through Qualification", 2013-2021), Digital Future (Digital Strategies for Higher Education, Stifterverband - German Association of Foundations for Science, 2014-2017). She has participated as a researcher in a number of R&D projects including OBERRED, Open Badge Ecosystem for the Recognition of Skills in Research Data Management and Sharing (Erasmus+, strategic Partnership, 2019-2022), CORALL Coaching-oriented Online Resources for the Autonomous Learning of LSP (Erasmus+, strategic Partnership, 2019-2022), bewARe - Sensor-supported movement training for senior citizens in an intelligent Augmented Reality System (German Ministry of Research and Education, 2018-2021), and ePA-Coach Coaching-oriented E-Learning for digital sovereignty in context of the electronic patient file (German Ministry of Research and Education, 2020-2023).

Oriol Borrás Gené

The author is Assistant Professor in the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and Coordinator of Computer Sciences Degree. He teaches in the Computer Science Faculty and Social Legal Faculty. He has worked for 12 years as technician and consultant in the prestigious Tele-Education Office in the same university. His research fields deal with MOOCs, gamification and the application of social nets to the Education field. He has coordinated three MOOCs on prestigious platforms such as MiriadaX. He has twice obtained the first Prize MiriadaX (2014 and 2019) for the application of Gamification and Social Learning in the field of MOOCs. Within the field of gamification, he has worked designing gamification initiatives in Institutional e-learning environments through Moodle, with various training courses and presentations in Conferences. He is a researcher grants iProg of MINECO (ref. TIN2015-66731-C2-1-R) and has been funded by the Madrid Regional Government, through the project e-Madrid-CM (P2018/TCS-4307). Oriol Borras coordinated and designed two editions of the MOOC "Digital badges as an alternative credentials" of the INTEF (Spanish Ministry of Education). He has been invited to talk at several International Seminars (Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina). He also collaborates as an expert in training and educative innovation in ScolarTIC (Telefonica Digital Education), as well as la Junta de Castilla-La Mancha, and La Universidad Nebrija and Universidad CEU, preparing and participating in teaching training workshops with different educational approaches and methodologies (Gamification, Social Learning and Flipped Classroom).

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Buchem, I., & Borrás-Gené, O. (2020). Motivational effects of open badges in MOOCs. A learner perception study in OpenVM Learning Hub and MiriadaX. e-mentor, 4(86), 22-35.