I earned a badge…

It’s been something I’ve only come across as I started working in higher education and through the connections I’ve made but I believe there is great merit and value in the use of badges for recognition of learning.  Dana Offerman puts it this way in her article Better Prior Learning Assessment Can Be Higher Education’s Merit Badge that:

Not only can badges help people learn, they can also enable individuals to demonstrate what they have learned. Education Secretary Arne Duncan noted that “badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate—as well as document and display—their skills.”

I earned a badge recently through my completion of the MOOC on Coursesites called Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success that has been facilitated by Dr Curtis Bonk from Indiana University.  I have to admit that for some reason it was a motivator to be able to achieve a badge through the completion of the identified activities and it prompted me to consider further the use of such a tool in education settings.

A working document from authors at The Mozilla Foundation and Peer 2 Peer Univeristy, in collaboration with The MacArthur Foundation explores Open Badges For Lifelong.  The consideration of learner scenarios in the document really helps to provide an overview of the increasing need for non-traditional pathways of learning to be recognised in some form.  Some great points are made on why and ways to do this.  This Scoop.it collection, from the DML Competition, of aggregated resources on Badges in Lifelong Learning is also a very valuable source of information.

I will continue to explore this topic, however, I find that the integration of badges is highly motivating for me and it is being increasingly used in online professional learning courses and networks.  It is a concept often brought up in gaming in education discussions as well and some might even say that the use of badges is ‘gamification’.  Each of us will have a different take on that one.  Whatever it’s called, the recognition for knowledge attainment and skill development outside of the traditional education infrastructures is definitely something that should happen.  Our skills and professional capabilities are not limited to whatever our degree/s might stereotype or label but when on a CV we include our skills, why should it not be encouraged that we include badges that are gained through alternate learning pathways. Will continue to read and ponder…




4 thoughts on “I earned a badge…

    • I agree with and definitely understand your point of view with some points. I come from a secondary teaching background and in this context badges would have motivated my students a lot more than any of my words ever could have I believe. Those students needed something, and often anything, to show for their efforts. However, higher education is different yes. I believe that badges for the achievement of set outcomes and graduate capabilities would be a start but yes, it needs to be intentional and not what you would call a ‘badgalanche’. If we were to put every little skill and thing we could do on our CV it would be thrown out immediately as being too long and wordy etc, and the same could definitely happen if badges are not carefully and intentionally used. I would not say just start implementing badges but I would say it is a motivator that when used, might engage students more with learning activities and materials.

  1. Hi Kristina, your post has caused me to rethink my stance about badges as a motivator. On the Bonk MOOC, I did not feel I that I really really wanted the badge, as I took a ‘buffet’ approach to the MOOC, participating in those things I really wanted to and got a tremendous amount of the experience. You can read my account here, including my initial stance on the badge at the end: http://littlegreycells.posterous.com/moocing-around-reflections-on-curt-bonks-mooc.

    I do see how badges allow recognition of other ways of learning, however, and are a valid option for tracking professional development or alternative ways of learning in some objective way.

    Kind regards

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments Sukaina and sharing your blog post, I definitely appreciated reading your feelings on the experience and could relate to much as I tend to be that way but if there is a clear goal and something attainable, I get competitive with myself (and sometimes others) and go for the best I can achieve. May seem pointless to most but I love to drive myself to do more all the time.

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