Author - Cate Tolnai

Gamify Your Professional Learning at the CUE 2016 Fall Conference!

Covina-Valley Unified School District teachers having way too much fun learning about Quizizz at a CUE Launch event

Covina-Valley Unified School District teachers having way too much fun learning about Quizizz at a CUE Launch event

Professional learning can and should be fun!

At this year’s CUE 2016 Fall Conference, we are working hard to make the attendee experience even more engaging and fun than years past. To that end, a group of 14 educators have been busily designing tasks, missions, and challenges for attendees. Participants will be asked to capture the collaboration and connectivity of the #fallcue experience in the streamlined Chrome Warrior gamified learning environment at cue.chromewarrior.net . (CUE also proudly partners with @ChromeWarriorPD for our district-focused, hands-on and gamified CUE Launch events.) We want to honor the “ah-hahs” that come from an amazing session, the laughter that comes from PLN meet-ups, and the big ideas you think about as you come face-to-face with some of the brightest and most passionate educators throughout the state.

Additionally, we know that social media plays a large role in growing collaboration and connectivity at conferences and beyond. So, our tasks will bring in a significant social media component. If you are still waiting for your personal invitation to join Twitter, consider this it! Do you need some assistance with that? Check out this blog post that unpacks Twitter for all beginners.

Onto our three Game Pathways powered by Chrome Warrior…

cuesteampunklogorgbweb600_1-1#CUESTEAMpunk — Jump into the STEAM-y side of learning by attending the CUE STEAM Punk Playground on Friday, October 28. Keep your eyes peeled for STEAMpunk sessions and informal demonstrations of bots, drones, and more!


cue_rock_star_generic_rbg#CUErockstar — The passion and essence of a CUE Rockstar presenter, jam session, and workshop is unlike any other. Whether you attend a CUE Rockstar Jam session (pre-registration required for these) or hang with a Rockstar presenter, you will move through these tasks with ease!

image1#FallCUE Social Media Mastery — Connecting and learning IRL (ed. Note- omg ikr? lol) at the CUE 2016 Fall conference is what fills each of us since we’ve waited to see all of our edu-crushes and long-distance friends for months. Take advantage of your smartphone camera, your Twitter account, and your feet to get yourself to PLN meet-ups and CUE affiliate meetings throughout the conference.

We’ll be distributing physical stickers for each digital badge you earn throughout the conference. Look for awesome volunteers handing them out to you at the CUE STEAM Punk Playground on Friday, October 28, and the CUE Student-Powered Showcase on Saturday, October 29. Physical stickers are limited supply, and are first come, first serve. Deadline to earn your digital badges and physical stickers is by 1:30 pm, on Saturday, October 29.

Remember to find the fun in all that you do!

Note: The CUE 2016 Fall Conference is SOLD OUT. If you’re not currently registered, we look forward to seeing you next  year!

tonaliCate Tolnai is an Academic Technology Specialist at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. In her fourteenth year in education, she is dedicated to supporting teachers & administrators throughout the state as they initiate and continue their professional learning journeys. She serves as Director on the Capitol CUE Board, and as a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer, she works to integrate technology and teaching across grade levels and content areas. She loves to talk digital badges, personalized PD, web tools, and all things awesome. #ConnectedTL #badgechatk12 #capcuePLN

Digital Badging and Being a Rock Star


Cate Tolnai running a badging session at CUE Rock Star Roseville

For all the time we spend learning and growing as educators, how do we tell our story? Some of us earn credentials, degrees, and certificates that cost us money and cause stress. We submit proof to these courses to our schools and districts, and the learning is then translated into a language that is quantifiable and understood on a traditional pay schedule.

But professional development has been liberated, and a large portion of the meaningful learning we do as professional educators happens online for free, and at conferences outside of work hours. We are challenged to quantify this learning for our schools and districts in a traditional way – we’re not “earning units” or “calculating semester hours.”

So, the time has come to start thinking creatively about how to package our professional stories, and digital badges are the keys that unlock the box.

Digital Badging for Professional Development

Guide to Digital Badges for Professional DevelopmentIt’s essential to understand the workflow of digital badging prior to adopting it into your learning model. First, an agency must decide to integrate digital badges as part of their professional development vision, and the flow is relatively streamlined, as seen in this diagram. The badging agency determines the goals of the badges, similar to setting a learning objective for a lesson or desired outcomes for a session. The badge title serves as quick-reference for the goal itself. Usually, this is how non-earners learn about the badge purpose and context, so the title should be clear and specific.

Next, the badge description captures the specific knowledge related to the goal, and the evidence is the proof, or demonstration of knowledge that the earners successfully completed the tasks. Finally, badge earners decide how and when to share their badges with a larger community with the intention to celebrate lifelong learning, clarify specific skills that they value or that are valued by the badging agency, and to connect with fellow badgers as they grow as digital educators. Educators have the option to earn badges independently, in small groups, or in larger social settings depending on the vision of the badge designer and the preference of the badge earner. The options to personalize the learning is prevalent and earners choose which badges they are interested in earning, and how to go about creating evidence that counts. The process is empowering to both the designers and the earners, and it clearly connects to goals set out in the National Educational Technology Plan revised in December, 2015:

Professional learning and development programs should transition to support and develop educators’ identities as fluent users of technology; creative and collaborative problem solvers; and adaptive, socially aware experts throughout their careers. Programs also should address challenges when it comes to using technology learning: ongoing professional development should be job embedded and available just in time. (1)

This gamification of K-12 education is exciting, inspiring, and motivating.

Digital Badging at CUE Rock Star Roseville 

Collection of CUE Rockstar Roseville Badges 2016

Collection of digital badges designed by the following faculty members at CUE Rock Star Teacher Camp at Roseville, CA: Kristina Allison, Brandon Blom, Brian Briggs, Corey Coble, Megan Ellis, John Eick, Josh Harris, Jen Kloczko, Ryan O’Donnell, Trisha Sanchez, Cate Tolnai, Joe Wood

As a member of the faculty for the CUE Rock Star Teacher Camp in Roseville, CA, I have the privilege of collaborating with brilliant and creative educators throughout the Northern California edtech community. Several of us integrate digital badges on a small scale, and had an interest in bringing digital badging to CUE Rock Star. John Eick custom-designed a badge platform exclusively using Google Apps. Across the board, we were intrigued and curious about how digital badges could strengthen the already strong Rock Star model of professional development.

Soon, the conversation turned to the potential risks we were taking in gamifying this learning opportunity. Josh Harris pointed out, “Since we’ve introduced objectives, evidence, and public accountability, I think we need to stress that the badges aren’t the purpose of each session. Your end goal for each session is not to get a badge.” We saw the need to integrate the pedagogy of badging as well as the badges themselves. The hard work and curiosity modeled by our faculty serve to change the cultural landscape of this camp but stay true to the vision and mission of CUE Rock Star.


Badging success at CUE Rock Star Roseville

As a team, we are aware that we are treading new paths and doing so pretty publicly, but as practitioners we also understand the power of calculated risk-taking, and what better professional development venue exists to gamify than a CUE Rock Star Teacher Camp? We are excited to see how the attendees react to the badges, and we are anxious to see artifacts of all the amazing learning take shape through the submitted evidence.  It’s exciting that teachers can now be acknowledged for their formal and informal learning.

1 “National Education Technology Plan | Office of Educational …” 2014. 3 Mar. 2016 <http://tech.ed.gov/netp/>


tonaliCate Tolnai serves as Academic Technology Specialist for the Santa Clara County Office of Education. As an instructional technologist, Cate coaches and guides teachers & administrators as they venture through their personal tech journeys. She holds the Director positions on both the CapCUE and Gold Country CETPA leadership teams. Cate was also honored to “ignite” about digital badges at the 2014 ISTE Atlanta conference and experienced inspired professional development at the Google Teacher Academy in Austin, TX in December, 2014. She is committed to connected education as well as personalized professional development. #connectedtl

Badges: Google Certified Innovator (#GTAATX), Adjunct Faculty: Krause Center for Innovation, Foothill College, Leading Edge Certified Online and Blended Teacher, CUE Lead Learner, Common Sense Digital Citizenship CUE Certified Trainer, CUE Rock Star Faculty, Remind Connected Educa