Connected Learning

TTT (Teachers Teaching Teachers) Talks Badges

In August, Paul Allison hosted two episodes of TTT on the topic of badges. His goal was to encourage a practical, pedagogical discourse on the subject and break through some of the heckling and the hype.

In the first episode (embedded below), the guests spend much of the hour teasing out what the debate over badges is all about. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl suggests that badges were overpromised by media and in education circles. She explains that there is a huge diversity in how groups can use badges, what badges mean, and how they’re earned. Sunny Lee, of Mozilla, agrees that there is still a lot of confusion about badges. She points out that the Mozilla Open Badges project is designed not to dictate what badges are, but to accommodate all possible badges and badge systems.

Andrea Zellner voices her concern that badges are not actually motivating. She references studies that show authentic audiences are more motivating than any external rewards. Elyse questions whether badges could replace real-world action. Is it possible that the goal of earning the badge becomes more of the motivator, instead of the project, itself?

The group also discusses how badges could serve as a kind of “alternative currency” system that could help those underserved in existing systems to gain social capital. For example, it could be a way to show you have job-relevant skills even if you don’t have access to more traditional job training programs.

You can watch the full discussion below. Other guests include Monika Hardy, Chris Sloan, Peter Rawsthorne, Vanessa Gennarelli, Sheryl Grant, and Dave Cormier.

In the TTT episode Badges, Part 2, the conversation focuses more specifically on what badge systems could look like. Doug Belshaw, of Mozilla, kicks off the hour by giving a brief overview of what badges are. Then Barry Joseph of Global Kids gives us six reasons why we would or could use digital badging systems:

  1. Badges as a form of alternative assessment (formal or informal).
  2. Gaming. Badges in a gaming context provide a way to engage young people. The “gamification” of education.
  3. Badges as learning scaffolds. For providing different pathways through a learning environment. Allowing learners to be on their own schedule and personalized trajectory.
  4. Badges for lifelong learning skills.
  5. Badges as a way to access what digital media can offer.
  6. Badges for democratizing the educational space. Badges are something that people within the badging system can help shape.

Myrna Rubel, Leora Wollner, and Sam Abramovich spend some time sharing the badge system implemented at Epstein School in Atlanta, Georgia.

You can see the full discussion below. Other guests in this episode include Peter Rawsthorne, Sheryl Grant, Kathryn Godwin, and Amy Lewark.