This is my post for open assessment, otherwise known as the badge topic.
As a prospective badger in the Introduction to Openness course, it’s nice to know that folks are thinking about how they can be displayed and used. Below are some key points I noted in the videos and resources.
Learning happens formally and informally. It is not limited to schools. As Arne Duncan stated in the DML competition video:
“Badges can help speed the shift from credential that simply measure seat time, to ones that more accurately measure competency”
Some people learn faster, or in different settings. What’s important, in the end, is being able to assess that the person knows what they need to know, and has the skills that are required for a task.
Duncan also referred to badges as being a stepping stone to helping students with special needs, from the ones with learning disabilities to the gifted students. If seat time is definitely going away as a metric, the time spent on acquiring skills can vary from student to student.
Recognition is a challenge
Our society has built this schooling infrastructure that has been in place for over 100 years. This system has enjoyed a quasi-monopoly on credentialing, i.e. certifying that a certain individual had achieved a level of competency required for certain types of jobs (general education, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral degrees).
Badges, without taking away this infrastructure, add to the mix by providing a wider view of the competencies and achievements of individuals. But how many badges does one need to be equivalent to a bachelor’s degree? Or how many (or which) school-issued badges does the owner of a bachelor’s degree need to design an ad campaign for an agency?
Some disciplines, where the skills are easier to demonstrate, will be able to take advantage of the badge infrastructure. Computer science, for instance, is a discipline where most of the accomplishments of an individual can be made visible online, for anyone to drill-down and confirm if the artifact works or not.
There are still some issues regarding plagiarism and the notoriety of the issuer of badges, but the fact that a badge system is transparent should allow potential employers to be able to see through this. This is called “badging literacy”, I guess…
More work needs to be done
As Julia Stasch said in her remarks:
“To design and test badges is a way to help people learn, to assess that learning, to demonstrate the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. Just as important, we’re looking for researchers to explore key questions about the role of badges in learning recognition and accreditation.”
Badges need some serious research work to be done in order to create a framework that society will accept.
The Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure is a step in the right direction, offering a way for badges to be issued, displayed, and distributed across the web, and, most importantly, “reverse-engineerable” (offering a way for people to drill-down and make their way back to the issuer of the badge, the requirements, and the work that has been done by the individual to claim the badge).
I think the work related to the Badges for Heroes initiative, described by Charles F. Bolden. will be very beneficial to society as a whole. Military personnel, trying to reintegrate the civilian workforce, need a way to demonstrate their skills as they translate the military jargon to actual work skills.
Badges as ePortfolio artifacts
I was blown away by the Media Master badge demonstration linked from the Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Badging Systems: A Participatory Work-in-Progress document. This Voicethread presentation was very well done to demonstrate the experience of that young lady in acquiring those badges, and will forever be a milestone to be showcased, but also referred to as a reminder of the prior learning of that person.
I’ll be teaching a class during the fall about social networking for educators, and I’m planning on using the Mozilla open badge ecosystem to chunk the class in challenges related to social media, media literacy, and personal learning networks, where students will choose what they want to pursue and make their discoveries available in the open.
I want what students learn to stay with them. Therefore, I will stay away from the LMS as much as I can. I plan on offering a discussion forum anyway, in case someone wants to discuss in private, but I will ask them to justify why this discussion need to occur in the walled garden of the LMS for every post.
Badges take the feedback closer to the work
What needs to be done to acquire a badge should be made available in advance, in ways that the prospective badgee should know when it has been achieved. This auto-feedback mechanism (reflecting on the acquisition of the badge) is a powerful motivation and independent-thinking process in itself. It also provides stepping stones to scaffold learning.
Now, most importantly, if I learn of to make honey, would that make me a honey badger? 😉