Out With the Degree, In With the Badge: How Badges Motivate Learning And 7 Tips To Use It Right
For most employers, undergraduate degrees are a check box that communicates very little about the skills a particular candidate possesses. Their value comes mostly from the presumed general authority of the granting institution—and the fact that traditional colleges have a legally enforced near-monopoly over the production of credentials that are widely accepted for the purposes of getting a job or pursuing advanced education. Social or 21st-century skills, which are invaluable to employers and correlated with job success, rarely show up on a transcript. Resumes are ‘flat’ and difficult, if not impossible, to verify.
So what are the 7 tips for starting your own badges system according to Saga Briggs?
- Start Local: Urge your school district to partner with local organizations in offering badges to students.
- Start Small: Test the badge system by using it to award credit that isn’t necessary for graduation but would look good to colleges or employers on a transcript. If you’re hesitant to substitute badges for grades, start with an extra credit-style badge system.
- Start with Service: Winning recognition for underappreciated educational activities drives many of the college officials who are experimenting with badges. The University of Southern California’s service-learning division, for example, is among the first-round winners of the MacArthur grant to try the new badge platform. Called the Joint Educational Project, the USC program works with professors to run community-service projects that grant students extra credit for volunteer work.
- Use different badges for different types of assessment. Hickeyurges badge developers to consider the various goals for their badges, and the assumptions behind those goals.
- Badge for showcasing achievement or potential = Summative assessment
- Badge for motivating individuals to learn = Formative assessment
- Badge for transforming or creating learning systems = Transformative assessment
- Create a “pledging” system: On his blog, Digital Literacy, William Ian O’Byrne describes his theory on “pledging” systems, which resulted from a conversation with Open Badges co-founder Doug Belshaw:
- Require students to “pledge” for a badge as a pathway to a goal or to identify an accomplishment.
- After they have completed the requirements for the badge, a review process would be conducted to see if they earned the badge. This might consist of a self-review, a peer-review, and an assessment by experts.
- Once the badges are awarded, they can be shared publicly, or left private.
- Use Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI): OBI lets programs create and issue badges that detail the particular accomplishment being highlighted, and link to additional information and evidence. Learners accumulate these badges in a digital “backpack” where they may choose to display them publically or share them over social networks. Mozilla’s Open Badges website answers many questions about how this is done in general.
- Create a Purdue University-Style “Passport App”: Purdue’s Passport app allows instructors to create badges for their students. The creator tool in Passport offers a variety of templates on which instructors or advisers can base their own badges.
Saga has taught and tutored writing at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, and has researched and written extensively about cognitive models of writing pedagogy. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College and lives in Portland, OR.
You can reach her on Google+, @sagamilena or firstname.lastname@example.org