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MOUSE Wins! Badge-based Achievement System for National Youth Technology Leadership

SUMMARY
MOUSE Programs facilitate a growing, learning and “action” network of approximately 4,000 youth nationwide. They are mobilized as teams of level-one help desk experts supporting technology and media in their schools by day and thriving as a community of peers whose combined skills and interests are shared and applied while “geeking out” after school and online. After nearly two years of design and development, MOUSE seeks support and collaboration from the HASTAC community of fieldwide designers and assessment experts to scale a national network-wide online achievement system (described below). The system supports youth in building computational, digital, and workplace literacies and establishes the assessment of community participation and learning as bedrock for our programs’ culture.

ABOUT MOUSE
MOUSE provides young people with authentic situated learning environments that support their school community, increases opportunities to gain experience applying skills, and offers exposure to new interests and a growing community of supportive peers and adults. With that, youth transform “consumer savvy” into skills and dispositions that empower agency for innovation and change.

MOUSE Programs aim to affect both skills-based and developmental outcomes that emerge along a trajectory of participants’ experience. One central goal of growing the program’s online achievement system is to help program participants realize and be supported in engaging that trajectory over time. Unlike some youth development programs working with drop-in formats, a key goal of MOUSE in growing our program is to engage more participants beyond a single semester or even school year. Evaluation efforts help support our understanding that the longer youth stay engaged in non-formal programming, the more significant and broad-reaching its outcomes for learning and development.

Our focus is, first, to leverage youth’s interest in media and technology. Through this focus we help them to see practical application's for their skills and, by doing so, begin a cycle where authentic and structured leadership opportunities yield positive youth development outcomes. Along this course, a sense of belonging and shared interest deepens engagement in building skills, and rewards both soft and hard skills in ways that make youth’s travel along their learning trajectory transparent, engaging, and significant among their peers.

The diverse network of youth participating in MOUSE Squad programs are from middle and high schools in the United States wherein, on average, 73% of students are eligible for the federally administered free-and-reduced-lunch program . To increase the number of diverse opportunities available to our youth, MOUSE partners with schools and other youth-serving organizations in New York, California, Chicago and 15 additional sites/regions.

GOALS
MOUSE’s goal is to continue to build an learning ecosystem through an engaging, national program culture where skills and savvy earned at the site-level can be valued and leveraged as a broader community.

Central to our effort are the following goals:
1) support youth in valuing demonstrations of active participation in their learning community
2) utilize web-based systems to automate learner scaffolding and trigger human interaction at key assessment points
3) introduce learners to a culture where demonstrations of learning and contribution are highly valued in ways that mirror contemporary fields of practice - “cred” not “credits”
4) utilize badged achievements to support youth’s growing sense of self-worth and value in a working or learning community; and
6) realize the full potential of an online achievement system for assessing domain-specific hard skills while building a broader community and programmatic culture for learners with shared interests

THE MOUSE Wins! SYSTEM
Our achievement system rewards users for two types of participation within our web-based network platform, mousesquad.org: Community Wins! and Certification Wins!, which are described below:

Community Wins! reward network members for actively participating, communicating, and collaborating with one another. For example, the number of blog posts members make get tallied up toward a dynamic 5 Blog Posts Win!, 10 Blog Posts Win! and so on. You also get Community Wins for cases (or project tickets) that members close through our case tracking software, and for comments that they post as they help fellow members to troubleshoot problems or open dialogue on relevant topics.

 

Certification Wins: are awarded to users for every Certification module that a user completes. MOUSE Certifications are designed to support students by first building basic computational, digital, and “project” or work literacy through our 10-module MOUSE Squad Certification. The curriculum designed for face-to-face facilitation and combines lessons covering hard skills and computational concepts, e.g. networking, hardware, software, peripherals, operating system interfaces and more with soft skills related their work as a functioning help desk, e.g. client interaction, working in teams, documenting and troubleshooting problems, and project management. Through the course of their certification work, youth blog content-related reflection questions, take short “Check Yourself” quizzes for comprehension, and load project-based demonstrations to Squad-based blog posts in the form of graphics files, video, photos, and other documents.

 

In 2010, MOUSE launched our first ever “Specialist Certification.” Different from MOUSE Squad Certification, these self-led online modules are designed to support youth in leveling-up in content areas that interest them beyond the exposure they’ve had during the school day, e.g. “Garage Robotics” is a foundational exploration of Physical Computing, in 2012 MOUSE will launch “Serious Game Design” a collaboration with partners at Global Kids, and with promising interest from the National Science Foundation, will begin development to create a third specialist certification in “Green Technologies” for launch in 2013.

In the summer of 2011, MOUSE also released the Wins!Tracker assessment feature to support the content described above. Wins!Tracker is a tool that helps program facilitators and mentors access an aggregate view of their whole Squad’s work for any given certification. The interface allows check-ins on student progress during certification work, 1:1 communication functionality to offer feedback, and a “award” control that allows the facilitator to approve certification when complete. All Wins! and Certification Badges awarded appear on students’ Profile pages within mousesquad.org.

 

PARTNERS AND ORGANIZATIONS
In the Spring of 2011, MOUSE also became a beta partner for Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) to connect participants’ profile data to external social and professional network sites online with the goal of releasing public-facing badges for a pilot group of advanced leadership high school students from the MOUSE Corps program.

Together, this growing ecosystem for learning, participation, and assessment targets domain-specific outcomes in the areas of technology, digital literacy, computation, and 21st Century skills. Learning in MOUSE programs starts during the school day and supports students in carrying over interests into out-of-school time. The bridge created by this programming represents a practical model for ways that non-formal learning institutions support a vision for learning landscapes that extend beyond the school day.

To date, MOUSE has awarded over 12,000 Wins! across it’s over 4,000 national network members. MOUSE seeks participation with HASTAC collaborators to continue growing this system in ways that:

  • enable seamless integration between the programs’ user data and the Mozilla OBI;
  • grow more robust assessment systems;
  • and build smart connections between learning goals and cultural community-building goals



BRANDING
MOUSE’s mission is focused on empowering youth, leveraging their skills and savvy to inspire change that starts with their learning environments. Through the utilization of badges (Wins!) we hope to inspire youth, pushing them towards being more engaged both with their own learning but also with the a larger community. Wins! become a tool that enables learners to brand their experiences and achievements, and organizations to brand their contributions to the lifelong learning trajectory of individual users. In doing so MOUSE succeeds on extending our mission and creating a cycle where a unique portfolio of achievements can inspire not just the individual, but the collective motivations of the community to participate, learn, and grow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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