What are Badges/Microcredit?

Badges are seen as a way to grant certification for informal learning in the form of micro-credits. A key aspect of gamification is to build in easy to reach incentives, and badges are an simple way to bring that idea to learning. The concept behind badging draws on longstanding ways learning has been documented in other settings, such as the personal skills and achievement when a Boy or Girl Scout earns a merit badge. The approach is being used in learning environments like the Khan Academy, with promising results. People watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. Mozilla has published an open specification for badging — the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) — that enables providers and users alike to easily display their achievements on the web. Badges can be used as a way to incorporate some of the advantages of game mechanics as participants work through various levels or stages to achieve credentials. While badges are not by any means pervasive in education systems, they appeal to many educators because they are considered to be more authentic signs of knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition than standard tests, grades, or course credits.

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1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • From my perspective badges do have the potential to become one of the major Trends in learning. With respect to Schools and first apprenticeships their contribution might focus mainly on the reward effect, while the microcredit or micro certificate-aspect will have a huge relevance for vocational training in order to give informal learning a formal Framework. - anna.hoberg anna.hoberg Oct 21, 2013
  • Traditional ways of assessment do not capture all the learning that happens everywhere. Digital badges are new tools for determining and rating knowledge and skills, accomplishments and competencies. It would be great if the European Commission and the EU member States could endorse and join global initiatives like the Mozilla Open Badges initiative and the OBI and to link it to all levels of formal learning. - guus guus Oct 23, 2013 Agree. 'Badges' also offer a workaround for teachers and schools caught in inflexible national curriculum and assessment systems. - jimdevine jimdevine Oct 30, 2013
  • The problem is not just that "Traditional ways of assessment do not capture all the learning that happens everywhere", it is with the assessment process itself the way "knowledge and skills, accomplishments and competencies" are being "rated." The problem Open Badges could solve is the idea of assessment as something which is done to the learner, instead of doing it with the learner. If we move away of Open Badges as glorified gold stars, then we have a chance to transform, accommodate the way assessment is performed, and not just assimilate Open Badges as an extension to the current "rating" systems. - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013
  • To be honest I have a problem with the whole badge system - in the same way that I never used the "gold star" approach when I was teaching primary school children. This type of system could reinforce the idea of "coverage" rather than "deep learning". - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013
  • With the changes to the English National Curriculum the old style levels are disappearing although a lot of schools may choose to remain with these as they are 'known', badges offers educators another way of assessing children - they can take these badges with them as they move schools as well - dawn.hallybone dawn.hallybone Oct 30, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • First of all, OBI sounds very promissing. I am keen on getting to know more about it. Depending on the set-up of badges they allow to show the different sub-topics belonging to a field of knowledge. The most exciting question to raise is, how can bages be acquired if they should prove informal learning, tacit knowledge and knowlege from pracitce.
    This technology will only work in a frame, where learning is done by choice. - anna.hoberg anna.hoberg Oct 21, 2013
  • There has to be some demonstration of real engagement and learning - not just getting a "badge" for simplistic tasks - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013 Agree - Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Nov 3, 2013
  • One of the most overlooked feature of Open Badges is their trustworthiness. An Open Badge is first and foremost a criterion- and evidence- based trust statement between a badge issuer and a badge recipient. The other overlooked feature, is the potential behind the use of metadata — a badge is essentially a set of metadata 'baked' into a pretty picture. Being able to exploit those metadata by applications and services like learning analytics could provide powerful instruments for managing one's own learning and career path. - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013
  • What makes this technology relevant is the fact that it is based on an open infrastructure (btw, for Mozilla, OBI stands for Open Badge Infrastructure, not Open Badge Initiative). Having an infrastructure makes the whole difference with what happened previously with ePortfolios: the creation of data silos that are still not interoperable and the inability to produce relevant metadata. - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013
  • One missing theme is the one developed by someone like Alfie Kohn: Punished by Rewards. If badges are used as rewards, then it will be one more gimmick of the pop behaviourist culture that believes that we need extrinsic motivation to learn, while many scientific studies demonstrate that rewards destroy intrinsic motivation (e.g. the love to learn), kills creativity and risk taking (just do what you need to get the badge). If the prospect of Open Badges is to become glorified "gold stars," then it would be better to stop delivering badges now! I believe that we can do better, much better. - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013 - great point(s)- helga helga Oct 26, 2013 Totally agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013 Totally agree! - Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS Nov 3, 2013
  • xAPI: one problem/opportunity with Open Badges today is the fact that someone can have a badge for visiting a web page or getting a full degree. This should be addressed with the use of xAPI (experience Application Programmer Interface, previously called Tin Can). xAPI that are very similar to Open Badges: it is like a badge without an image. - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on European schools education?

  • From a technology perspective the functionality of assigning badges and representing badges in profiles need to be implemented in current LMS. - anna.hoberg anna.hoberg Oct 21, 2013
  • Open Badges offer the opportunity to make all learnings visible. The accumulation of badges will contribute to the construction of learners identities. The trustworthiness nature of Open Badges and the abundance of metadata generated by them will create the ability to exploit Big Data to help learners and their carers built learning and career paths - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013
  • Badges will only be useful if they demonstrate real engagement and learning, there needs to be a clear outline of what the criteria was to achieve it. Without this they will not be respected as real evidence of learning. They have to be seen as challenging and worthwhile to achieve. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013 I agree. The value of any badge or certificate depends not on the technology that produced it, but what achievement it represents and what you can do with it. Does it get you a job or entrance to university? Badges given out for watching videos would not have any currency because they would not represent any real achievement.- paul paul Nov 3, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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