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Improving the Rigor of Open Badges


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We have been concerned about the increase of participation-style "weak" badges that we feel diminish the potential of the badging movement. In this presentation, we lay out our argument, published recently, for valuing and improving the rigor of open badges.

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Improving the Rigor of Open Badges

  1. 1. Enough with Weak Sauce Badges! BYU Image by Shutterstock Daniel L. Randall & Richard E. West
  2. 2. Badges as Legitimate Credentials “When you first said badges, I had such a bad impression of what that would mean.” BYU
  3. 3. Merit Badges and Digital Badges Boy Scout Merit Badges Digital Badge - Acknowledge accomplishment - Display skills gained - Motivation - Enable feedback/teaching from adult mentors Typically not sharable - Acknowledge accomplishment - Motivation - Gamification - Enable feedback on specific skills -
  4. 4. Open Badges Open Badges Same Affordances as Digital Badges, Plus: - Uses Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) - Display badges via web - Metadata (Criteria and Evidence links)
  5. 5. Open Badge Information
  6. 6. Mozilla Backpack
  7. 7. Backpack Collection Multiple collections can be created. Collections can remain private or can be made public and shared.
  8. 8. Badgers Talking with Badgers Joseph (2014) argued the badging community needs to talk less with skeptics and more with each other— talking about how to improve the badging movement. BYU Svenwerk on flickr
  9. 9. Value of Badges CC BY-SA Class Hack A badge is only as good as: The Rigor attached to it. The process used to evaluate the learner’s work. It’s usefulness to students and/or stakeholders. How can we increase Badge Value?
  10. 10. Badge Types Global vs. Local Systems Badge “weight” BYU
  11. 11. Badge Systems Local badge ecosystem - intended only for the person’s learning space Global Badge ecosystem - stretches beyond learning space; allows badges to be used as a credential “Badging systems can be designed to offer both types of values— value within an organization and value to those outside it—but, the required features and networks are different” (Joseph, para 6). BYU Notthesame!
  12. 12. Badge Weight BYU By Flickr user winnifredxoxo
  13. 13. Lightweight Badges Badges issued for: • attendance • creating a login • simply existing as a learner. BYU
  14. 14. Argument for Lightweight badges • Casilli (2014) argued that accretion, or the layering effect of badges over time, produces value. • Value to emerge in unexpected ways from the accumulated effect of many different lightweight badges. • Thus, lightweight badges may not be as meaningful individually, but taken together they paint a fuller picture of the individual’s interests and activities (Knight, 2014). BYU
  15. 15. Badge Inflation CC BY-SA Class Hack Mass awarding of badges with little or no assessment of work. Or criteria so easy and short everyone earns the badge. “Carpet Badging”
  16. 16. Counter Argument: The Challenge of Lightweight BYU Accretion? Who’s got time for that? Demotivating Focusing on the wrong thing
  17. 17. Accretion BYU How many have kept every completion certificate they have earned?
  18. 18. Accretion BYU Jordan Crowe on flickr
  19. 19. DeMotivating BYU
  20. 20. Misplaced Focus BYU
  21. 21. The Problem with Lightweight Badges Poor Public impression of badges If the badging community does not show how open badges and their assessment processes can be rigorous and meaningful, then the badging movement may fade away. BYU
  22. 22. “Weightier” Badges • Digital Promise • Supporter to Reporter “Substantial motivational power for students” (Tran, Schenke, & Hickey, 2014)
  23. 23. Badges as Legitimate Credentials BYU
  24. 24. Lots of Credentials in Formal Education • Degrees only awarded after a long period of time or a great deal of experience • Transcripts have lots of information, but how useful is that information? BYU
  25. 25. How Valuable are Transcripts? • What does 200 mean? Is it equal to or less difficult than a 400- level class? • Course name: what skills are covered? • What does the grade B mean? – Average on everything? – Did really well on some things and poorly on others? • If so, what things did they do well? Course # Course Name Grade CS 200 Web Programming B
  26. 26. Badges as Micro-credentials • Receive recognition for smaller chunks of learning • Easier to communicate skills to employers and other interested parties • Metadata makes data open, providing greater insights into person’s skills (viewer could even re-grade the submitted project if they wanted to) • Removing metadata weakens the potential of badges BYU
  27. 27. Badges and Informal Learning • Receive recognition skills gained in informal and non-traditional settings • Combined with badges issued in formal education, badges provide a fuller picture of a person’s skills • Vetted badges issued by others could be accepted by a professor or university, allowing the student to spend more time of topics they do not know, or provide a shorter path to graduation BYU
  28. 28. Proposed Solutions to Bolster Badging BYU
  29. 29. Badges and Gamification • Use something other than badges to gamify learning (points, levels, ranks, upgrades, etc.) • Reserve badges for achievements and skills that have value outside of the learning environment BYU content/uploads/2015/09/infographic_The_business_ of_gamification.png
  30. 30. Badges and Gamification – 2 Types of Badges • First type of badges (lightweight) is only used in the learning environment; are not exportable • Second type (weightier badges) recognize significant work and learning; these are exportable • Less desirable option, because – 2 Badge types could create confusion – Continues to proliferate lightweight badges BYU
  31. 31. Rigor of Badge Creation • Criteria for earning the badge must have weight. • Number of criteria and difficulty of each criterion. BYU
  32. 32. Rigor of Badge Assessment • Assessment process should provide learners with specific, formative feedback that allows learners to reach the level of mastery. • This is not only important for learning, but also gives the badge more credibility as a legitimate credential. • If the criteria are rigorous, but the assessment process is not, it can still result in lightweight badges. BYU
  33. 33. Badge Consortiums • Universities, professional organizations, and other trusted groups could join together to issue badges • Could ensure badges issued through consortium had weight • Greater number of badges issued, increasing brand Recognition BYU
  34. 34. Randall, D. L., Harrison, J. B., & West, R. E. (2013). Giving credit where credit is due: Designing Open Badges for a technology integration course. TechTrends, 57(6), 88–95. Davies, R., Randall, D., & West, R. E. (2015). Using Open Badges to Certify Practicing Evaluators. American Journal of Evaluation, 36(2), 151–163. doi:10.1177/1098214014565505 West, R. E., & Randall, D. L. (in-press). The Case for Rigor in Badges. In L. Muilenburg & Z. Berge (Eds.), Digital Badges in Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases. Routledge. Daniel L. Randall Richard E. West
  35. 35. ? Contact us with Questions Thank You Daniel L. Randall @dan2randall Richard E. West @richardewest