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No Diploma But You Can Have Some Badges

badges

I had a conversation with a colleague this week about adaptive learning systems and we drifted into talking about tools like the Khan Academy. That free online tutorials provider offers as an incentive "badges" to students for progress. I don't if many educators believe that getting an image icon that says you are a "Great Listener" because you watched 30 minutes of videos is actually "motivating" to students.

Collecting a certain number of those badges along with badges for passing standardized tests on the site, can earn you something like a "Master of Trigonometry."

Do you add that badge to your resume or application?

An article from the Chronicle.com points to these badges as being a new consideration for more traditional colleges and universities. They reference MIT's recent MITx learning system. Not unlike Khan Academy, students use self-paced online materials, take online tests and earn certificates. MIT also is teaming with OpenStudy, which runs online study groups, to give online badges to students.

To older readers, those badges might evoke scout achievement patches and for younger readers it will seem to follow videogame feedback incentives like power-ups.

Are we seeing the end of "standard" certifications and diplomas? Not yet, but as I have written before here, when the job market starts to accept new learning systems as training, schools had better be ready to respond.

If you follow the scouting and videogame models, we know that achieving milestones - some easy, some difficult - and getting regular and almost instantaneous feedback IS motivating. Are your students AS motivated by an "A" on a paper or even an "A" in the course?


Update link  1/22/12   http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Mints-a-Valuable-New-Form/130410/

We Still Don't Want No Stinkin' Badges

I use that famous line from "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" but I'm talking about badges used for learning. The film says "need" but I say that in matters of learning we don't seem to "want" any badges.

I have been writing about badges for years on this blog 

It seemed like badges used for showing learning progress was going to be a big thing. That was especially true with online learning and then when MOOCs exploded onto the scene around 2011. But badges still hve not made significant inroads in education.

They didn't make any impact in credit-bearing courses, but they should have had more impact with lifelong learning, MOOCs, alternative education and non-credit learning opportunities.

I would compare there lack of acceptance to some reasons why MOOCs never really changed higher education. Badges and MOOCs are really great for non-credit learning, but when the movement to garner college credit from their use started there was no acceptance from higher education. They saw both as threats.

Similarly, some thought badges would allow learners to get "credit" for their learning with employers, either to advance or get a job. But employers also did not take to them. I don't think they felt threatened. It was more that they weren't convinced that the learning was legitimatized. I suppose that idea of validating the learning was also a factor for colleges, though the threat of lost tuition was much greater.

So, the problem is still the same as it was years ago: We need a way to design badgesso that at completion aschool or employer will be confident that the learner has actually mastered the skill for that badge. 

I wrote earlier about a project by the Education Design Lab that tried to involve employers who committed to consider badges in their hiring of recent college graduates. But I don't see much evidence on their site of progress. 

Mozilla's Open Badges standard is still around and their Backpack has tried to unite badge platforms around the world.

I looked online to see if there was any big news in badges recently, but I didn't find anything that changes my perspective. If you have any good news, send me an email.

https://elearningindustry.com/guide-to-open-badges-beginners

https://www.gettingsmart.com/2018/03/a-simple-free-powerful-badging-system/ 

What's In A (Credential's) Name?

badges
The Lumina Foundation is worried about credentialing. They feel that with a widening range of certificates, badges, experiential transcripts, industry certifications and licenses, in addition to those traditional college degrees, we are left with a fragmented system for job seekers and employers.

What do those credentials represent? What rigor is behind them? Whose standards do they meet?

Lumina already sponsors a Degree Qualification Profile, which attempts to define what a degree should mean. Now, they are suggesting a "Lingua Franca for Credentials" that would create a common language across systems. They released a beta version of the framework, which experts from the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and the Center for Law and Social Policy developed. Dozens of contributors from other groups also helped create the template.

More at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/06/12/lumina-led-group-seeks-develop-common-framework-credentials


Mozilla's Open Badges Project

I sat in on a webinar today about how Mozilla and others are using badges as a way of recognizing and legitimizing learning and skill development that happens outside of the classroom. (I assume the webinar will be archived at connectedlearning.tv/webinar-archive.)

The concept of issuing badges is usually compared to the scouting merit and skill badges that have been around for a long time, and the badges that come for game achievements.

The main presenter was Erin Knight - Senior Learning Director at Mozilla - who currently spearheads the learning and badge work, overseeing the building of learning pathways for webmaker skills, as well as the development of the Open Badge Infrastructure.

The Mozilla Open Badge infrastructure enables any organization or community to issue badges backed by their own seal of approval. Learners/users can then collect badges from different sources and share them across the web, unlocking new career and learning opportunities.

Here is some of what I culled from the session and the Mozilla site:

There are countless examples of learning occurring through informal channels. The web and other new learning spaces provide exciting new ways to gain skills and experiences—from online courses, learning networks and mentorship to peer learning, volunteering and after-school programs.

While degrees do convey information about people’s skills, they often tend to be abstracted from the actual learning that has occurred. Two people with the same degree may have taken very different learning pathways or developed different skills. Many people without a formal degree possess a vast set of job-relevant skills. Badges help by providing a more complete picture, recognizing a more granular set of skills.

I good real world example of that is resumes. Resumes are documents that people write themselves and granular information on a resume is often difficult to validate. With digital badges, users can click on a given badge to access information about the badge’s issuer, how the badge was earned, and more. In other words, badges can go beyond traditional resumes by providing built-in evidence for validation.

The Mozilla Open Badge site OpenBadges.org (still beta) can get you started on using, creating and issuing badges.

Mozilla started with this project in 2010 and is now at the point of a public beta. On the Mozilla blog they discussed the Open Badges Infrastructure entering public beta which allows badge issuers and developers to have access to the software that will allow them to build badges.

Though I am viewing all this through my academic lenses (and with the idea that school credit will be changing radically in the near future), most of these badge efforts are from online or out-of-school learning situations. For example, the past year they have been used by NASA, Disney-Pixar and 4H.
The public-beta adds new features like an improved badge issuer API and new ways for users to manage their badges.

Mozilla has a "Badge Backpack” so that users can store, manage, import and group badges earned from multiple sites in a single location. A new displayer API will make it easier to display digital badges across the web, from personal web sites to social networking platforms. There are also documentation and privacy features, including an updated privacy policy, terms of use and FAQs for developers. The hope is that they can get from beta to version 1.0 by the end of the year.

If you want to start working with Open Badges right now, check out the developer documentation and source code.

The Mozilla project it totally new to me, but I did learn the basics about Open Badges (and earn my first 2 badges) today.

The webinar was via Connected Learning's Livestream channel. They offer a lot of education webinars using Livestream, Google+ Hangouts etc. Their Twitter hashtag is #connectedlearning.



Badges

I have been hearing about badges for showing learning progress for years, but I don't think they have yet to make significant inroads in education.They are often included in discussions of lifelong learning, MOOCs and alternative education. It is not surprising that they are part of discussion on the gamification of courses and education.

When I first heard about them at a conference, they were compared to the badges in Boy and Girl Scouting. You earn badges by mastering a specific set of skills. But the better comparison is to video gaming where they have long been used as a way to mark achievement. Called a badge or trophy, badge, stamp, medal or challenge, in many games they mark the achievement of a "meta-goal" that is outside the confines of the game environment and architecture. You may "unlock" an achievement, but that guarantee winning the game or even future achievement.

In education, or more accurately "learning," badges are being seen as one way to open up new pathways for learning. For MOOCs and other lifelong learning opportunities, badges are a way for learner who are not necessarily going to college to show achievement, competence and progress.

This year the MacArthur Foundation showcased winners of its Badges for Lifelong Learning competition who had been awarded $2 million worth of development grants last year.

This summer the city of Chicago announced that badging would be a key component of its Summer of Learning program, which is being called the largest citywide learning campaign in the country.

The Mozilla Foundation has been developing and testing its Open Badges Infrastructure for about two years. We know the Mozilla Foundation more as the maker of the Firefox web browser, but their efforts are often pointed to as something that could have a big impact on the acceptance of digital badging. They have focused a lot of their efforts at K-12 education because educators at that level have proved to be open to badging.

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) administered the MacArthur competition which focused on digital badges which was cosponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation. Almost a hundred competitors entered and they were given resources for the development of badge-related content by Intel, Microsoft, NASA, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the 4-H Council, among others.
Employers are interested in badges as a way to rate potential employees and a way to mark professional learning/development for active employees.

As with MOOCs, the key to badge success will be the acceptance of a standardized, certified badge system by employers and schools as a credentials for advancement.

We're not there yet, but Dr. Bernard Bull blogged this month about an online master’s degree in educational technology that is built around competency-based digital badges. He writes about the degree that:

"As of August 2014, Concordia University Wisconsin is offering the first (to the best of my knowledge). That means that you earn your master’s degree along with a series of digital badges, each of which represent new knowledge and skill that you are developing as you work through the courses and program. This also means that you are gaining new micro-credentials (digital badges) even before you finish a full course. These are credentials that you can display online as evidence of your growing competence and perhaps your qualification for a new position for your current employer, or evidence of your skill for that future dream job."