"The Mozilla Festival is where many of Mozilla’s best and most innovative ideas spring to life. It’s where passionate thinkers and inventors come together to learn from one another and engage in a conversation about how the web can do more, and do better. The festival is filled with fiercely unconventional technologists and creators, eager to share their skills. So I invite you to join us. Bring an idea and we’ll connect you with kindred spirits who will help nurture your ideas through hands-on sessions and interactive workshops. Find your community at MozFest, hone your skills and amplify your voice around our common mission: ensuring the web is an innovation open to all.”
— Mark Surman, Executive Director of Mozilla
Last year, at MozFest 2012, there was only one session on Open Badges.
This year, we took over an entire floor - and brought some amazing community contributors with us to facilitate more than 15 different sessions. Over the course of the festival, these community superbadgers shared their work with revelers from around the globe, inviting MozFest attendees to join workshops and discussions about badges for teaching, accreditation, workforce development - even a controversial discussion about badges for profit!
As revelers awoke on Saturday morning and made their way to the festival on the Jubilee line train, many facilitators were already on the seventh floor of Ravensbourne busy setting up their stations for a weekend of badge mania.
A couple of sessions on the Badges + Skills floor happened all weekend long - including a collaborative badge system design workshop, led by Grainne Hamilton of Jisc RSC as well as Lizzie Brotherston and Sarah Drummond of We Are Snook.
Charting Open Badge Constellations focused on designing badge systems within a national context, looking at the work OBSEG (the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group) is doing to integrate badges into Scottish education. Considering the recent announcement that the Scottish national awarding body SQA is investigating the value of Open Badges, it looks like some great work is being done in Scotland to explore the open badge universe!
"The constellations were designed to get people to make connections and see where and how badges are being used," Grainne said on a recent Open Badges Community Call. “OBSEG is one example of forging those connections.”
Grainne’s wasn’t the only British group exploring badges on Saturday - two community members from University College London led a discussion around badge design called Shape Shifting: Badge Designs Re-Designed.
Janina Dewitz and Dr. Mina Sotiriou explored badge design beyond geometric shapes (no hexagons?!) looking at how the visual representation of badges and their aggregation affect learner engagement, and what kind of imagery would best increase engagement among badge earners.
Janina’s group used banner paper (pictured above) to sketch out badge designs: “pie badges” (think trivial pursuit) offer increased granularity as many skills come together to form competency in a field; badge pathways show not only what a learner has already achieved, but where their learning could go with opportunities they’ve unlocked through badges; “talent trees” take inspiration from MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games); badges that could even be used to add components to a digital scene, character or avatar, building a digital identity of the learner!
The group came up with some great new ideas, as well as echoing some recent discussions around badge design from the Open Badges team. “It was nice to know that our idea was not received as completely crazy,” Janina wrote in a reflective blog post after MozFest, linking to this badge pathways prototype that Open Badges developer Mike Larsson demoed at the festival.
So what was it like for Janina, being a part of the community efforts on the Badges + Skills floor this year?
“MozFest was epic. There was just so much to do and see, so many great conversations to be had,” she said. Anything she wished could have gone differently? “I wish I had had an extra day, to be honest, to play with a few things in more depth.”
Many attendees left Ravensbourne on Saturday feeling the same way — thankfully, MozFest lasts an entire weekend!
On Sunday, the crowds were just as excited to participate in badges sessions - even if it meant multiple coffee stops as they made their way up the stairs up to the seventh floor!
Lizzie Brotherston and her colleagues Sarah Drummond, Andy Young, and Vala Pettursdottir from We Are Snook, and John Hamelink from Farm Geek, worked tirelessly through the festival at the Badge Maker Station helping attendees of all ages create badges and “challenge blocks” to overcome in order to earn the badges.
Lizzie anticipated an “amazingly badging weekend” on Friday after meeting her fellow community facilitators:
The Badge Maker team has been working in Scotland to provide educators with the tools needed to create badges and to help learners recognize and showcase their skills using badges - and their momentum was apparent at MozFest, when over 100 badges were created by revelers young and old:
Beyond the flurry of paper, foam and glue being used to make these physical badge designs, more of our community facilitators were inviting MozFest attendees to dive deeper into topics around open badges, and explore their potential beyond the many arenas in which badges are gaining support.
One of these facilitators was Andrew Sliwinski, who joined us from DIY.org to lead a workshop on How to Teach (Almost) Anything, taking a common goal in technology - to make new innovations scale as large as possible - and flipping it around, asking instead: “How can we use these new resources to make an impact our local communities today?”
During his session, Andrew encouraged the group to think about a short list of tips for teaching kids, including leaving your ego at the door - We want kids to surpass us; we can’t do that if we take the role of master - exercising empathy, and remembering that it’s okay for students to say “I don’t know” - “I don’t know” leads to “let’s look it up”
Attendees then brainstormed workshop ideas, ranging from latte art, beer brewing and “foodie-ism” to setting up a first web page and developing apps. Andrew’s was one of the busiest sessions on the Badges + Skills floor, and enjoyed by all:
Andrew has made his presentation materials available on Github, and of course everything is Creative Commons licensed - so remix, reuse, and hack away!
Another of our superbadger community contributors is a regular on our weekly calls and Google dialogues who is working with Dan Hickey at Indiana University to take a deeper look at the growing open badges research out there and develop use cases for future badge system designers, and we were thrilled he could join us in London for MozFest.
Nate Otto came to MozFest to “stretch our thinking about badge systems, protect badges from corruption, and find opportunities to create sustainable funding channels for badging programs that don’t compromise the soul” in his session Selling Out! Badge Systems Design for Profit.
In one of the most talked-about sessions to hit the badges floor, Nate gave an overview of his work with Dan Hickey on the Badge Design Principles Documentation Project which Nate says “is not a beginners’ tool, it’s for those already thinking about badges and have a certain level of systems familiarity.”
Despite this apparent hurdle, Nate says many of the badge novices in his session quickly caught on, giving him some useful feedback on the approachability of his academic pursuits, and allowing more participants to dive in to badge system design using the Design Principles Documentation card deck, pictured above.
Nate has since set up a blog inspired by his session - go to Selling Out Badges to access Nate’s resources and presentation materials, including the card deck, an outline for giving your own Open Badges pitch, and badge puzzle prompts used in his MozFest session.
Once again, the materials are Creative Commons licensed - as we say at MozFest, more hack, less yack!
With that, I’ll let you explore these awesome community facilitator projects further, leaving you with this message from the Mozilla Festival organizer Michelle Thorne:
And this from Mozilla’s Executive Director Mark Surman:
Community facilitators from the Badges + Skills floor are going to be appearing on our weekly Global Community Calls for the next month or so to share their work with those who couldn’t be there in person to make MozFest magic with us. Why not join us to hear more!
MOZILLA OPEN BADGES COMMUNITY CALLS
IRC Channel: #badges
Calls take place on Wednesdays, 9 am PT / 12 pm ET / 5 pm GMT
Conference Number: 1-800-503-2899
Secondary Conference Number: +1 303-248-0817
7-Digit Access Code: 5435555#