This is an update to a similar blog post that I wrote six years ago on Free Technology for Teachers.
Six years ago I joined Strava to plan and keep track of my bike rides. Shortly after joining I started to get curious about the various challenges that Strava hosts every month. You get a little digital badge for completing the challenges. Then I discovered that you can earn KOM (King of the Mountain) badges for recording the fastest time on various segments of road. Earning digital badges is what hooked me on using Strava.
When ClassDojo and other digital badging services started to appear in the educational technology market a lot of people, myself included, had doubts about the appeal of badges to students older than elementary school. Over the years it has become apparent that students of all ages like to earn badges.
While I’ve earned and lost my share of Strava KOMs over the years, the appeal of Strava isn’t just recognition of being the fastest MAMIL (middle aged mammal in Lycra) on some random road in my area. The appeal is in making progress toward a goal and having a neat way to keep track of it. There’s also appeal in sharing that progress with a small group of friends who are also working toward similar fitness goals. One of my friends is currently working on a goal of 365 consecutive days of yoga. I give him kudos every day just to help keep him going.
The appeal of services like ClassDojo for students is similar to that of Strava for me. Students don’t have to be “the best” at anything in ClassDojo in order to get a digital badge. Instead they can earn badges for their own personal improvement and personal achievement streaks.
Strava rewards and celebrates progress toward goals. It doesn’t penalize you for bad days on the bike. Nobody needs a reminder of a bad day. Likewise, when using services like ClassDojo in a classroom setting it’s important to remember to use them in a way that promotes and celebrates progress toward goals. Don’t use them in a way that penalizes students for bad days.
On a related note, I like to connect with other teachers on Strava. Here’s my Strava profile page.