Hunter School of the Performing Arts (HSPA) Use Case

The Hunter School of the Performing Arts (HSPA) is a government-funded co-educational specialist primary and secondary school. It offers a comprehensive curriculum, with a performing arts specialty. HSPA is located in Broadmeadow, in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. HSPA’s vision is to provide a creative learning environment where excellence is nurtured to enable all students to perform at their best.

HSPA has a 4-year Strategic Improvement Plan (2020-2023) focussed primarily on the development and school-wide implementation of a comprehensive and tech-enabled digital credentialing solution of their Mastery Learning System.

Hunter School of Performing Arts Logo

In early 2022, HSPA challenged Edalex and their integration partner, Learning Vault to create a digital credential solution that would track student progress towards mastery, reduce current reporting administrative overheads and provide visibility across the learning journey for all stakeholders in the learning community. Through this digital credential solution, HSPA sought to address the following pain points in their existing processes:

  • Teachers do not have access to analytics data giving them visibility of progress towards targets in the credential delivery to learners
  • Teachers, learners and parents are not able to access real time data that shows a learner’s progress in their mastery journey
  • Teachers are spending significant time reporting to parents and meeting reporting requirements when most of this data is already available in school systems and reporting could/should be automated
  • Learners and parents have limited access to real-time attendance data
  • Learners and parents have no immediate access to assessment artefacts and teacher feedback
  • Awards and certifications are static, not digitally shareable nor verifiable once outside the school’s systems
  • Credentials need to be in a W3C compliant format that can be exported to other areas of the education ecosystem

In their own words

“The Learner Dashboard developed by Edalex and Learning Vault has been nothing short of transformative for our learning community – administrators, teachers, learners and parents. The solution they developed allowed us to maintain our focus on pedagogy, rather than having to adjust our pedagogical approach to fit with the capabilities of the software. The process has enabled us to authentically define our values and learning outcomes and provision our learners with proof of their progress and portable credentials that they can keep with them throughout their lives. For our teachers, it has enabled 24/7 reporting without adding an extra burden on their time, freeing them to focus on learner-centric and evidence-based progress and results. Working with Edalex has been wonderful – they were so open to collaboration and co-designing the solution and have been with us, and continue to be with us, on each step of the journey. We had some hurdles to cross and working together, we overcame every one. We couldn’t have done this without them and our whole school community is blown away by the result.”

– Darren Ponman, Principal, Hunter School of the Performing Arts (HSPA)

Objectives

HSPA’s overarching objectives for the solution were to:

  • Unlock and surface learner achievement data from current HSPA systems and platforms
  • Align learner achievement to skills and competencies so skills gained in formal and non-formal learning are acknowledged and awarded
  • Provide digital recognition of learning via a digital badge with embedded personal evidence record
  • Visually and digitally representing the mastery journey via progressively-awarded digital credentials
  • Give learner, parents and teachers dynamic, 24/7 access to personal achievement data, along with explicit instruction on how to achieve mastery, regardless of their current status
  • Provide transportability of verified learning achievements for learners once they leave the school
  • Establish “best practice” processes in the Mastery Learning system
  • Reduce the reporting administrative overheads currently experienced by HSPA teachers

Problem

The HSPA curriculum model is complex, with 12 school years divided into 6 stages of 2 years each. In every 2-year stage, there are approximately 12 learning outcomes per subject. Students are expected to achieve a level of mastery in each of the outcomes, badges are then issued at the end of the given stage to reflect the level of mastery achieved. Badges are also issued for non-syllabus outcomes such as Commitment to Learning and Cross-curriculum and Co-curricular achievements which are ongoing throughout the learner’s schooling and will not be issued until the students leave school or graduate year 12 (whichever is sooner).

HSPA did not wish to flood their students and stakeholders with digital badges, diluting their meaning and importance. The challenge was to show progress through mastery by issuing a credential with a personalised record of learning each time a student progressed to a new mastery level of an outcome, however not issue a ‘baked’ (finalised and issued) digital badge until the end of the stage.

Learners, particularly seniors, may wish to share their achievements with third parties in instances where they are applying for work during a school term, for example. The ‘unbaked’ credentials and records of learning therefore needed to be accessible and shareable at any time throughout the school year.

The credentialing solution needed to be fluid throughout the school period such that it could show progress towards academic goals and reflect evolving student attitudes. Credentials had to be shareable in both the baked and unbaked states, and it had to be able to accommodate the complex mapping of curriculum data required to reflect progressive achievement in the syllabus and non-syllabus outcomes.

Solution

HSPA teachers aligned syllabus outcomes to activities and/or assessment via rubrics in Canvas, enabling them to analyse student proficiency at a granular level as well as from an overview perspective. This data is then used by HSPA teachers to design and differentiate learning opportunities for students.

Credentialate, as the credential evidencing platform solution, was deployed as a key aspect of the solution. Credentialate was able to produce a learner’s personalised evidence of learning which was then embedded into a Learning Vault digital badge.

Learning Vault provided the credential exchange and badging platform aspects of the solution. Learning Vault badges enabled HSPA to issue metadata-rich, secure, verified digital badges as an acknowledgement of a learner’s achievements. Learning Vault’s capabilities expanded to co-design and create the Learner Dashboard within Canvas that provided access to issued badges and other learner performance data from Credentialate and attendance data from Sentral.

Using open data standards, the complex solution involved extraction of data from multiple Canvas mastery gradebooks which were mapped and aligned to credentials in Credentialate, producing a dynamic learner evidence record and provisional digital badge reflecting progress through mastery (see below). These digital credentials were aligned to national standards and school-based frameworks. The individual learner evidence records show progress (including assessment artefacts) and were embedded in the digital badge displayed on the Learner Dashboard.

Sample mastery badges for a Stage 4 English outcome

Gamification was used to encourage student motivation, self-direction and a growth mindset and parents have real-time access to student progress. Learners will always be able to see their highest achieved level of an outcome represented by a provisional or issued badge. The learner evidence records can be shared by learners while still mid-stage, or after graduation as issued badges via Learning Vault’s WC3 compliant digital wallet.

Outcome

In June 2023, a pilot of 160 learners was launched. The credentialing solution will be progressively rolled out and matured, with learners playing an active role in co-designing the solution over the coming years.

HSPA learners and parents now have access to dynamic, 24/7 updates on all aspects of learning, via the Learner Dashboard. All stakeholders in the learning community have an unparalleled insight into learning progression across the Curriculum (syllabus outcomes), Cross Curriculum (soft skills such as collaboration and critical thinking), Co-curriculum, and Commitment to School Values.

As learners progress, provisional badges and learner records are created, showing their current level at any point in time. Achievements are represented by digital badges that, once awarded, remain the property of the learner, for life. Both the provisional and digital badges can be shared with prospective employers when applying for work, or used to gain entry to tertiary education.

The Learner Dashboard fosters a gamified, growth mindset for learning.

  • It provides learners with authentic digital badges that they can keep and use throughout their lives and provisional badges that recognise their progression of learning.
  • It gives parents comprehensive, real-time updates on learning progression anytime, anywhere and at a glance, as opposed to the previous twice per year model.
  • For teachers the Learner Dashboard shows student attendance rate, enrolment stage, mastery in progress, cross-curriculum outcomes and finalised badges, updated daily, which has significantly reduced the administrative reporting burden.

From a technical perspective, HSPA also gained:

  • A suite of bespoke HSPA badges designed to represent each stage, outcome and outcome level achieved
  • Ability to add elements to a credential that had previously been issued
  • Embedded artefacts – presented as HTML links such that artefacts, student reflections and grader’s comments from Canvas – are included in the evidence record
  • Single sign on (SSO) dashboard access (with attendant permissions levels) via the Canvas LMS, with authorised ‘observers’ able to view a given learner’s data on the dashboard
  • Provisional credential records with a ‘provisional’ watermark indicating they represent non-finalised outcomes
  • Portable credentials that learners can export, store, and share (both provisional and awarded credentials)

Due to success of the journey so far, HSPA has decided to continue with Mastery Learning as one of their three Strategic Directions for the next four year plan (2024 -2027). Goals for this plan include streamlining user experience of the Learner Dashboard for parents and enhancing Mastery Learning Teaching and assessment processes.

Hunter School of Performing Arts (HSPA) was named one of the ‘5-Star Innovative Schools 2023’ by The Educator for their work around mastery learning, credentialing and Learner Dashboard innovations. Now in its ninth year, The Educator report recognises the schools at the forefront of change and innovation. 

Video tour and screenshots

Figure 1: Learner Dashboard home page
HSPA Subject Page - English
Figure 2: Learner Dashboard subject-level page (English)
HSPA English outcomes provisional badges
Figure 3: Subject-level (English) provisional badges, clearly showing what level the student is at currently (those in colour) and where they are going (those in grey)
HSPA Cross-curriculum page
Figure 4: Learner Dashboard Cross Curriculum badges and cohort comparison spider graph
HSPA Credentialate - Evidence Record Provisional - SAMPLE
Figure 5: An example Provisional Evidence Record, embedded in the provisional badge, showing learner-level qualitative and quantitative data, alignment to frameworks and other skills data (such as globally recognised skills definitions using rich skills descriptors (RSDs) which can be shared with prospective employers and further education providers

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