Monday, May 25, 2015

What Strava Taught Me About Why Kids Love ClassDojo and Digital Badges

Warning! Small humble brag ahead.

This morning I set out on my bicycle to complete a challenge that I had accepted on Strava a couple of weeks ago. (Strava is an app for tracking running and cycling activities. It also has a social networking component through which you can give your friends kudos for their rides and runs). The challenge was to ride 100km or more in a single, continuous trip. I finished it 3 hours and 24 minutes later. It was my first metric century ride.

I recorded the ride in the Strava app on my phone then crashed on my couch to recover from the ride. A minute later I heard an alert on my phone and expected it to be a friend giving kudos on the ride. Instead it was Strava congratulating me and telling me that I had unlocked the Gran Fondo challenge award. The award is the right to purchase a cycling jersey commemorating the achievement. At $120 and in a color I would never wear, I passed on the purchase opportunity. Nonetheless, I was stoked to have the opportunity. That's when I realized that the way I feel about Strava is the way that students feel about ClassDojo and other services that have digital badges/ recognition.

For a couple of years I've had teachers telling me how much they and their students love ClassDojo. I never got terribly excited about it. I understood that kids liked seeing a record of their points for classroom behaviors, yet I didn't understand the excitement that some kids express in earning digital recognition. I felt much the same way about ClassBadges. My experience today gave me a new understanding of digital badges. It's not about the badge. It's about the feeling that comes with the badge.