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Learning Affordances of Badges (or.. Can We Afford Not to Badge?
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Learning Affordances of Badges (or.. Can We Afford Not to Badge?

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Talk presented at NSF invitational meeting: STEM Badges: Current Terrain and the Road Ahead

Talk presented at NSF invitational meeting: STEM Badges: Current Terrain and the Road Ahead

Published in: Education, Technology, Business

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  • Barry,

    I enjoyed the slides. It's ironic that I received notice of them just as I endeavoring to create a learning/performance map for a corporate client, some sort of 'badge' system that connects training to real-world activity (eg, use performance data to direct learners to relevant learning resources, develop training modules that simulate specific real-world activities, etc.). Many of the same themes are present on the corporate side -- including the fact that gamification has largely been bullshit as well. So, perhaps add corporate training to your 'Having a moment' slide.
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  • Thanks to Michelle and Margaret for inviting me to speak with you. My goal is to offer some comments that lend grist to the mill for our conversations throughout the day.
  • MOOCs are like a Roschach - but at least they ’ ve got my colleagues talking about teaching for a change, which is welcome. AND THEN THIS HAPPENED...
  • This moves away from time as a proxy for learning. University of Southern New Hampshire - the cost of a college degree is now related to how quickly students can demonstrate their competency on a range of exams. This is the start of educational “ unbundling ”
  • Allan Collins and Rich Halverson made this argument in “ Rethinking Education in an Age of Technology ” ..
  • Badges are not new IN EDUCATION
  • Goal theory, Self-determination theory... While you can “ earn ” a bad grade, you can ’ t earn a “ bad badge ” or a badge for “ poor performance ” ... that ’ s just not how it works
  • When I talk about the learning affordances of games, I have to emphasize that I am talking about “ GOOD ” games... there are plenty of terrible games with terrible learning designs, even games that are intentionally designed to be “ Educational ”
  • In the sense that Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt meant it - “ as a way to conceal, impress, or coerce. ” And that is the way people too often use gamification
  • I don ’ t expect that all of the affordances I will highlight are news to everyone here, but some of them will be new for each of you. As we think about research agendas later today, you might select one or more of these to think about the interrelationship of MECHANISM and DESIGN
  • Lighten things up: for instance, I experimented with an “ Office Hours ” badge - if you didn ’ t earn this, I wouldn ’ t write you a letter of recommendation. COURAGEOUS FAILURE badge
  • or helmet stickers - they are meant to communicate to the opponent, I think, as much as to the player and teammates
  • Said in response to seeing a student at graduation with “ Hire Me ” written on their mortarboard.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Learning Affordances ofLearning Affordances ofBadgesBadges(or: Can we afford(or: Can we affordnot tonot to badge?)badge?)Barry FishmanBarry FishmanThe University ofThe University ofMichiganMichigan@barryfishman@barryfishman
    • 2. “CommonCore”We’re Having a MomentResourceConstraintsMOOCs(open ed)MakersConnectedLearningGamesAccountability
    • 3. The Great Unbundling• The unbundling of education is underway• OBI-like infrastructure is catalyzing the change:• Increases the transparency of accomplishments• Gives learners control over self-presentation• Opens up access to “deep” evidence behindclaims of accomplishment• But perhaps most importantly...
    • 4. No Course is an Island• Without the infrastructure of OBI (or something like it),it is nearly impossible to realize the potential of badges ininstruction• Badges depend on individual instructors to employthem in specific leaning contexts, but...• Education functions as a system and if the badges earnedin one context don’t have value in others, we get notraction• We require ubiquitous (or at least shared) ways tocommunicate across contexts, both geographic andtemporal
    • 5. No Learner is an Island• Without the infrastructure of OBI (or something like it),it is nearly impossible to realize the potential of badges ininstruction• Badges depend on individual instructors to employthem in specific leaning contexts, but...• Education functions as a system and if the badges earnedin one context don’t have value in others, we get notraction• We require ubiquitous (or at least shared) ways tocommunicate across contexts, both geographic andtemporal
    • 6. Badges are Not New• The A-F grading system is literally an “old school”badging system• But it is a lousy badge system that emphasizes extrinsicmotivation, privileges too few learning goals, and hasnarrow communications bandwidth• Instructors can’t rely on prior grades as reliableindicators of prerequisite knowledge• We know nothing of what students bring in fromoutside formal education• Transcripts are essentially exercises in branding
    • 7. So What Is New?• This cannot be a conversation about “adding”badges to education; it must be a conversationabout improving education to create engagement• The current crop of badge thinking is built uponimproved motivational design:• Emphasize mastery over performance• Encourage progress towards goals• Support autonomy, belonging, competence
    • 8. •The Usual•Lack of (perceived) control•Instructor chooses focus(one size fits all)•Learners receive grades•Disincentive to stretch•High-stakes evaluation•Incentivize avoidance“Old” vs. “New” Assessment SystemsTheThe UNusualUNusual•Self-determinationSelf-determination•Student chooses focusStudent chooses focus(different strokes...)(different strokes...)•LearnersLearners earnearn badges, etc.badges, etc.•Encourage risk-takingEncourage risk-taking•Lowered cost of failureLowered cost of failure•IncentivizeIncentivize progressionprogression
    • 9. Isn’t this just “Gamification”?• Badges are strongly associated with gaming• Many people thinkgames in education = gamification• Mere “gamification” leads to weak designs• If we just use badges as grades or resort topurely extrinsic motivations, we’re doing itwrong - putting new wine in old bottles
    • 10. “Gamification is bullshit.”-Ian Bogost, Georgia TechA tool to:•Conceal•Impress•CoerceSource: gizmodo.com
    • 11. Affordances of BadgesAmplified by Technology• As Assessments• As Instructional Tools• As Instruments for Personal Growth• As Signals
    • 12. Badges as Assessments• Formative assessments• Communicate progress towards goals• Feedback and guidance• Indicate what has been accomplished so far,against the backdrop of possibilities• Summative assessment• Provide an overview of accomplishments relatedto a particular project/assignment/course
    • 13. Badges as Instructional Tools• Manage instructor expectations• Better info. about what students know and can do• Communicate detailed goals to students• Set expectations about potential outcomes• Scaffold complex learning• Provide indicators of steps along a pathway• Motivate student action• Help orient student energy and reward progress(and maybe even lighten things up a bit)
    • 14. Badges as Instrumentsfor Personal Growth• Agency & Goal Setting• Support multiple pathways toward goals• Identity formation• Try out different paths• Self-determination• Support self re/presentations of accomplishment
    • 15. Badges as Signals• Recognizing learning/Credentialing• As a replacement for “thin” transcripts• Communicating social status• “Nerd cred,” like “lettermen” jackets of yore• Coordinating collaboration & teamwork• To promote skills to others who might needthem, or to aid search for needed skills
    • 16. Quit waiting to get picked; quit waitingfor someone to give you permission....Stand up and say,“I have something to say.I know how to do something. I’mdoing it.”“If you want me to do it with you,raise your hand.”-Seth GodinSource: http://www.sethgodin.com