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Passport's badge-based platform guides students toward learning outcomes

Bart Collins, clinical associate professor of communication, often asks himself the following questions: “What do I want my students to be able to do, and are they really learning what I want them to learn?”

Passport, a new learning system developed by ITaP, is helping Collins address those questions by providing a framework for students to submit documents, share links, complete quizzes and gather approvals for activities that meet concrete learning objectives. A video explaining how Passport works is available on YouTube.

“I’ve always had an interest in learning technology, and I thought Passport would be useful in measuring some of my students’ hands-on, applied deliverables,” says Collins, who piloted the tool in his 2012 Web production class. “Using Passport made a lot of sense for this class in terms of structuring a set of activities that build upon each other to show some level of mastery, and it enabled my students to demonstrate competencies beyond the classroom.”

Purdue is looking for other instructors or institutions that would like to try the beta version of Passport as part of its test pilot program. There’s no charge for instructors to use the app, but ITaP is looking for feedback on how the tool is used in the classroom, as well as suggestions on how to improve the application. Instructors interested in using the Passport app can sign up at the Purdue Passport site.

Passport and its companion application, Passport Profile, let instructors create custom digital learning badges that are associated with students’ progress or course objectives. The tools guide students through the completion of various tasks or achievements — such as essays, online discussions, blog posts and podcasts, to name a few.

Earned badges are displayed within Passport Profile, a mobile portfolio that provides a digital record of student accomplishments and may be shared with other instructors or potential employers. The badges also can be translated into a numerical evaluation system for grading purposes.

“Passport gives an instructor the ability to do a lot of what traditional learning management systems do without a lot of the overhead,” Collins says. “Passport lets me see very quickly that my students are completing their assignments and turning them in on time. Because Passport shows thumbnails of student assignments, I can at a very quick glance start evaluating their work. It’s been really easy for me to blast through 40-50 assignments and give feedback, and I’ve never before had such a rapid workflow for that process.”

One of the biggest benefits, Collins adds, is that the tool is easy to use from a course administrator and a student perspective. Also a user of Mixable, another tool within Purdue’s Studio application suite, Collins says students adapt naturally to the mobile environments ITaP has designed. 

“In the past I’ve asked my students to maintain a Web folio containing links to their work and bookmarks to their sites, but Passport is a good alternative for that because students are not manually managing the interface and the history is already there,” he says. “They don’t have to email me links anymore, and I don’t have to go hunting for things. I’m very impressed with the quality and scope of the teaching and learning that can be accommodated by the suite of tools ITaP has developed.”

Kyle Bowen, director of Informatics, says Passport creates a common currency for recognizing learning in all of its forms, no matter where it may happen.

“As students work through each task, they’re working toward an intended learning outcome. This creates a ‘choose your own adventure’ model for education in which students can determine their own paths for how to complete each task based on their own career trajectories or development interests,” Bowen says.

Passport and Passport Profile are two of six classroom apps created by the Purdue Studio project. The apps can be used by instructors or students to enhance the traditional classroom experience.

Writer: Andrea Thomas, ITaP, 765-496-8204, thomas78@purdue.edu

Sources: Kyle Bowen, 765-496-7486, kbowen@purdue.edu 

Bart Collins, 765-494-4417, bcollins@purdue.edu

Last updated: Jan. 2, 2013