#digitalbadges: SCoPE seminar on Digital Badges

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 20.13.25

(screenshot from Peter Rawsthorne’s presentation)

Peter Rawsthorne is facilitating a lively two week seminar in the SCoPE community on the concept and implementation of Digital Badges. This is how he describes his intentions for the seminar

During this two-week seminar we will explore digital badges from concept through to implementation. The seminar will focus on the possible pedagogies and technology required for implementing digital badges. We will also take a critical look at the current state of digital badges with discussion of the required and possible futures. If you have a few hours to read and discuss focused topics and participate in two mid-day webinars then please join is this lively learning experience focused on digital badges.

As well as the discussion forums there are two web conferences – the first took place last night. Details of the seminar and conferences can be found here – http://scope.bccampus.ca/mod/forum/view.php?id=9010

The seminar has been designed to be task driven and with the intention of awarding badges on completion, based on a 3 badge system design

  1. Learner badge – person introduces themselves to the group via the discussion forum and contributes to a couple of discussion threads. Mostly, they could be considered lurkers (much can be learned through lurking)
  2. Participant badge – person introduces themselves to the group via the discussion forum and actively contributes to 7 of the 12 primary discussion threads, also participates in one of the two lunch-and-learn sessions.
  3. Contributor badge – does everything the participant does with the addition of contributing;
    • by designing badge images
    • creating a badge system design for another curriculum
    • blogs about their participation in this seminar series
    • other creative endeavours regarding digital badges

The daily tasks that have been posted so far are

Task 1  

  • Identify a merit badge you earned during your lifetim
  • Describe how you displayed the merit badges

Task 2   

  • Identify the digital and internet technologies best suited to create a digital merit badge
  • Describe the technologies that could be used to attach (reference or link) the learning to the digital badge

Task 3  

  • Identify the completion criteria for any badge you have earned (traditional or digital)
  • Describe the hierarchy or network of badges

Task 4

  • Identify a variety of sites that issue badge
  • Describe the skills, knowledge and curriculum the badges represent

Some sites that reference badges that have been mentioned in the forums…

From the synchronous webinar last night Peter Rawsthorne made the point that there are 4-5 billion people on the planet who are not attending school. How will their achievements/accomplishments be recognized? I think the idea is that learning that happens outside traditional settings should be honoured and recognized.

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 20.14.29

(Screenshot from Peter Rawsthorne’s presentation)

At this point I feel a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but it is very early days. Three questions I have at this time are:

  • Will badges promote quality learning or will they simply encourage people to ‘jump through hoops’?

For example – I notice in the discussion forums that there is in fact, very little discussion. The tasks are being completed but there is little discussion about them. Completing tasks does not necessarily lead to quality learning.

  • Will badges be ‘recognised/valued’ by employers – will they need to be?

Verena Roberts in last night’s webinar wrote ‘Do badges need to lead to something, or identify a person’s passion?’ For me, I don’t need a badge to identify a personal passion, but I might need one for my CV, depending on the context and my personal circumstances.

  • Will badges stifle creativity and emergent learning?

There has been discussion about how badges fit together and Gina Bennett (in the webinar) thought that the ‘Scouts’ have the badge thing really figured out.  But for me that model is based on a very ‘linear’ way of thinking about learning, whereas research has shown that even small children (for example when learning mathematics), don’t learn in a linear way – they go backwards, forwards and sideways. Frogmarching children (and adults) through a curriculum has always been a problem for curriculum design and the award of badges based on a linear approach might just reinforce this.

2 thoughts on “#digitalbadges: SCoPE seminar on Digital Badges

  1. scottx5 December 5, 2012 / 10:08 pm

    Hi Jenny, your third point on badges stifling creativity and emergent learning is an interesting twist. Virtually every attempt I’ve made to “upgrade my skills” to become a more versatile and productive employee has crashed head on into the wall zero motivation.

    First is the obvious lack of reward system in most organizations for pro-active behaviour. We are offered silly professional development “opportunities” that are incentivized by a structure of promotion and pay raise that has no expectation of utilizing my personal passions unless the somehow paralleled corporate needs. Anyway we have managers who know what we are supposed to know and this is NOT a bottom up process.

    Second, applying abstract incentives driven by motivations that don’t represent things I personally value hardly seem worth the effort.

    Having done thousands of hours of volunteer work that often has been worse than the job I do for money (or even work I wouldn’t for all the money in the world) it seems to boil down to discretionary hours draw from a different pool of incentives–this even applies to work I do at work for students or fellow staff.

    Maybe a good test of whether a badge is important is to ask who your skills are for. Some things about me are mine to decide where, when and for whom they will be used. Badging them feels a bit like they will no longer belong to me.

    Thanks for the post Jenny, sounds like an interesting project.

  2. jennymackness December 6, 2012 / 6:44 am

    Hi Scott – thanks for your interesting comments

    I have never resolved in my head the extent to which learning should be ‘rewarded’ as opposed to engaging in learning for its own sake – for the love of it.

    When I was teaching children it used to give me a real thrill when they ‘took off’ on their own projects that they were passionate about and where there were no marks (badges/rewards) involved. This seemed to me to be what learning to learn was all about. But equally, I taught many children who only seemed to make progress if they got lots of ‘pats on the back’ and stars posted by their work. My sense at the moment – and I am new to the idea of badges – is that they promote the latter way of working rather than the former.

    In terms of whether a badge really ‘belongs’ to you or not, there was discussion in the webinar about creating your own criteria for a badge, in the same way as on some courses students are invited to write their own criteria for assessment. I am still thinking about whether this would make a difference.

    Anyhow – the SCoPE seminar is open if you are interested – just go to http://scope.bccampus.ca/ and join in – or alternatively ‘lurk’ !

    The next webinar is next Tuesday
    December 11, 12:00 – 13:00 pm PST
    Implementation Has Two Sides

    (your time zone – http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=SCoPE%3A+Digital+Badges+with+Peter+Rawsthorne&iso=20121211T12&p1=256&ah=1)

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