Planet Badges

Open Call for Badges Pilot Project for Pittsburgh City of Learning Initiative

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Apr 15 2014 18:21:27 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Read the original post on Remake Learning.

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This summer, Pittsburgh will join other Cities of Learning from across the United States in a groundbreaking initiative to pair learning opportunities for young people with digital badges in ways that allow learners to think about, pursue, and develop their interests.

The Cities of Learning initiative was piloted last year in Chicago, to great success. And last week, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Summer of Learning is being expanded this year, to become the City of Chicago Learning and Earning Initiative, aimed at engaging youth throughout the year.

In Pittsburgh this summer, badges will enable young people to take new paths of discovery, explore the city’s rich resources, and find out what they can learn, make, do, and ultimately become.

The Sprout Fund invites organizations from the Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network, schools, libraries, museums, and other youth-serving organizations offering summer learning experiences to apply to participate in this regional effort.

For more information on how your organization can get involved in the Pittsburgh City of Learning program, click here.

Pittsburgh City of Learning

Mayor Emanuel Announces Expanded Citywide Summer of Learning and Earning Initiative with Over 10,000 Additional Learning And Employment Opportunities for Chicago Youth

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Sat Apr 12 2014 20:02:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Read the original press release here.

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On April 9, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Chicago’s youth will now have access to an additional 10,000 academic and job training opportunities through partnerships across the City as part of 2014’s Summer of Learning and Earning, a citywide initiative to keep Chicago youth ages 4 to 24 active and engaged this summer. The “Summer of Learning and Earning 2014” will provide more than 215,000 opportunities for Chicago’s young people, including interactive activities at parks, libraries, schools, museums and cultural institutions, colleges and universities; community- and faith-based programs, jobs through at City and County departments and sister agencies; and self-paced, online learning activities.

“In the wake of last year’s incredibly successful summer programming, I am pleased to see our citywide summer initiatives growing and thriving as we work to support the educational and career goals of all Chicago students and young adults,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Providing additional opportunities in the summer months is an important way to keep our youth safe, active and engaged, and ensure our students are graduating 100% college ready and 100% college bound.”

The Summer of Learning and Earning will include the Chicago Summer of Learning, which the Mayor launched last year to call together the entire city to an all-hands-on-deck effort to make summer count and support science, technology, engineering, art, and math learning for students of all ages. One Summer Chicago will also add an additional 2,000 job opportunities. Since the Mayor has taken office, job opportunities for youth have increased from 14,000 to 22,000.

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The Summer of Learning and Earning will once again engage youth by challenging them to earn digital badges to mark their successes. These badges are a tangible way for students to display their activities and achievements to teachers, college admissions officers or future employers, making learning pathways visible and recognizing student accomplishments. Last summer, Chicago launched the world’s first citywide digital badging system to recognize out-of-school student learning, and students earned approximately 100,000 badges.

Connie Yowell, Director of Education for U.S. Programs at the MacArthur Foundation, said that Chicago has become a model for the nation. “The first-ever program that treated summer activities as examples of connected learning and provided badges for youth participation and achievement, last year’s Summer of Learning was incredibly successful, awarding more than 100,000 badges to participants,” said Yowell. “In fact the program was so successful that now five other cities are replicating Mayor Emanuel’s signature program, coming together under the cities of learning banner to provide youth with learning and badging opportunities. “

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [35]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Apr 11 2014 18:58:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Greetings!

We hope the week has treated you all well - in most of our time zones, the temperatures are reaching very friendly temperatures, and you know what that means: daylight extends beyond work hours now!

We’ve had a great week with badges - this week on the Community Call we looked at some of the common challenges and lessons learned from those who have developed / are developing badge systems in the new ecosystem. We were joined by some of those we spoke to when writing our initial case studies, which was great!

Kim Carter joined this week’s Research & Badge System Design Call for a deep dive into the QED learning ecosystem and competency-based education with her colleague, Elizabeth Cardine, and a QED alumna, Raven Gill.

What else did we get up to this week?

In celebration of spingtime finally arriving, here are some dancing badgers for your Friday smile:

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See you on Monday, everyone!

Open Badges: Lessons Learned in the Developing Ecosystem

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Apr 10 2014 21:57:11 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Call recording: https://archive.org/details/April9CommCall

Agenda: http://bit.ly/CCMarch19

This week on the Community Call we looked at some of the common challenges and lessons learned from those who have developed / are developing badge systems in the new ecosystem.

Our Global Coordinator Jade worked with HASTAC’s Sheryl Grant to draft our initial case studies, which are published on the Summit to Reconnect Learning website. Nate Otto has been working with Dan Hickey and a team of researchers at Indiana Univeristy on the badge Design Principles Documentation project, which has looked at the badge systems developed by the grant recipients from the fourth DML Competition, “Badges for Lifelong Learning.” Nate has also started writing a set of working examples from these 30 grantees.

They were joined by a number of representatives from the organizations interviewed for both sets of case studies to dive into some common road blocks and lessons learned that might help future badge system designers.

It was great to hear people sharing their experiences on the call - click the link at the top of this blog post to listen to the call in full, or read on for a summary of the discussion!

Common Challenges and Concerns

There were many questions and concerns about how to start developing a badge system by those we spoke to. Here are three of the most common challenges foreseen or encountered as organizations began designing their systems:

  • Overloading staff

This was a particular concern among those in schools and colleges, where faculty and staff are already very busy. How can an institution begin to integrate badges that require some level of staff engagement in such a way that is seen as valuable and rewarding to the staff?

  • Lack of technical resources

This was a common challenge faced by early adopters of badges across numerous sectors. As much of the open badge standard requires some technical knowledge, many organizations recognized they would need someone on their team to provide technical support, or to form partnerships with another organization.

The recent release of BadgeKit was a result of acknowledging the technical barriers to badge issuing. Future versions will include even more features and accessibility, making it easier for organizations to join the ecosystem.

  • How to ensure badges have value

Badge value (or rigor) is a concern of many who are new to the ecosystem. Carla Casilli recently laid out her thoughts on the ‘myth of the lightweight badge,’ where she argues all badges can play a valuable role in identity building as well as showcasing skills and recognizing various forms of learning. Many organizations developing badge systems had to address the question of whether their badges would be valued - by students, or teachers, or employers - and, in some cases, how to ensure their value extended beyond the learning environment.

Lessons Learned

  • Start small, think big

Think about the potential for your badge system to expand, but don’t try and do too much, too fast. Start with the basics, the minimum you want to achieve with your badge system, and once you’ve built a strong foundation, it will be easier to expand. That could mean starting with one class or grade before expanding to badge an entire school, or focusing on a certain type of professional development or informal learning exercise before encompassing others.

It’s exciting to think of the many possibilities for badges when starting out, it can feel overwhelming to try and develop a system that covers everything from the beginning. Break it down so that your system development happens in stages, allowing you to build a robust foundational badge system and address feedback and potential problems before expanding.

  • Focus on goals, and identify ‘success’ for your badge system

For badges to be valuable, they must be tied to valuable experiences. By thinking about the learning or development objectives for your badge system, you can think about the kinds of activities, criteria, and evidence that will be suitable for your community, whether that’s in a school, workplace or network.

Think about what it will mean for your badge system to be successful. Will it mean that students gain academic credit for informal or out-of-school activities represented by badges? Or is it a way for teachers (and students) to track students’ progress? Do you want your staff to be recognized for their professional development in a way they can show to employers and peers? Or a way to identify workers whose skill sets align with industry standards?

Once you’ve outlined your goals and identified what ‘success’ means for your badge system, you can start to think about how to get people there, and the role badges will play in that progression.

  • Know your resources and limitations

As well as technical barriers, there are other potential limitations to consider, including time, money, and people needed to develop your badge system. This is a good reason to start small - the more complex your system, the more costly it will be to implement, so again, think about the minimum successful foundation of your system. This will give more time to gain wider acceptance, support, and resources for future expansion.

  • Think carefully about partnerships

Partnerships can be immensely valuable in building a badge system, whether they provide technical support, funding, or endorsement of badges. However, it is important to make sure you find the right partner for your organization. Take your time, do your research, and find the partner that is best suited to your needs (or restrictions.)

  • Think about existing frameworks

Badges are often slated as a disruption, designed to act instead of current methods of credentialing, when they often play a supplementary role. If your school, workplace, or network uses existing frameworks or standards to guide learning or development, this could be an asset. Not only can these structures potentially add value to your badges, they also provide a map of what is already there, so you can identify places where your badging objectives overlap, and gaps your badges can fill.

  • Allow more time than you think you’ll need

Cliff Manning once wrote he suffered from “Badge Eye," a condition where he sees badges everywhere, and many badge enthusiasts and evangelists find themselves in similar situations.

As badges are a relatively new concept for many people, you may find that your team and community need time to “buy in” to the idea. Give them time - and provide resources to help educate, inform, and support those in your organization you want working with the badges.

Allow more time than you think you’ll need for faculty / staff / student / administrative / stakeholder buy-in. The more support you have going in, the smoother the process is likely to be.

Keep talking!

If you are starting to develop a badge system - or thinking about it - there are many places to go for support, guidance, advice, and resources. We listed them in a recent blog post, and we’re easily reached by email at badges@mozillafoundation.org

Good luck, badge pioneers. We look forward to seeing more exciting badge systems emerging!

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 9, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Apr 10 2014 20:42:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 9, 2014:

Agenda: http://bit.ly/RBSD9April

Speaker: Kim Carter, QED Foundation

Kim Carter, who shared her work at the QED Foundation with the Community Call back in November, joined us again this week for a deep dive into the QED learning ecosystem and competency-based education with her colleague, Elizabeth Cardine, and a QED alumna, Raven Gill.

Educational Equity

The QED Foundation’s work aims to encompass all learning, not just for youth, but also focusing on at-risk and adult learners as well as encompassing student-driven, competency-based learning strategies inspired by their Theory of Change.

The Making Community Connections (MC2) Charter School mission is “to establish a sustainable network of multiple preschool through graduate school pathways for high quality learning that are student centered, mastery based, and community oriented.”

There are 5 beliefs at the center of their approach:

  1. You can learn anything at any time. The QED Foundation sees learning as a progression through phases (not grades) and acknowledges that learning happens not only in nonlinear paths, but also in an interconnected, truly interdisciplinary, way. Kids progress when they master / complete a stage, rather than basing progression on a set timeframe for everyone.
  2. We care about who you are. Students express who they are through their interests, which not only motivates them to learn but also allows instructors to see students’ strengths, challenges and abilities.
  3. You set your own pace. Rather than using a time-based approach, QED places its focus on critical thinking, decision making, etc, establishing a “negotiated pace” between students and a learning team based on 18 habits for lifelong learning
  4. Learning should happen anytime and anywhere. The QED learning format gives 10 weeks ‘on’ and 3 weeks ‘off’ for students; additionally, there is one week of staff PD each quarter, allowing for varied and continuous learning throughout the year for staff and students.
  5. Your voice matters. As alaboratory of democratic practice,” QED believes their work cannot be done without the voice, and agency, of the learners.
  6. Your parents are in your business! The QED team recognize the importance of parents in supporting their students’ learning.

Badges for QED

As outlined above in the 5 Core Beliefs, the QED Foundation has been working to create competency-based pathways and opportunities within the (MC2) Charter School. To this end, they ask students to set goals for the week / quarter / year, and to provide daily reflections on these at the end of each day that went into an end-of-day (EOD) portal for feedback.

They feel these reflections are an important tool for students to feel heard by the adults and staff working with them, as well as being the “canary in the coalmine” for staff to keep a pulse on learners’ progression, so this was one of the things they decided to badge. The badges not only provide a tool for students to become self-motivated, but provide important feedback to students and staff, much as the reflections do, but on a wider scale.

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The QED team also began badging staff professional development. As the “master learners in the system,” staff —-. Badges not only recognize their continued learning and development, but also provide feedback. This data makes it easier for staff to do their work, and gives them a sense of agency that may not have been as clear before.

The QED competency-based model is used for student learning and for staff professional development, using continuous feedback loops to support or “scaffold” their learning.

Just as the students set goals and provide daily reflections within the EOD portal, the QED staff  also set quarterly goals for certification and re-certification. Staff then present their learning and professional development at exhibitions each quarter.

School as an experience

When designing their badge system, the QED team kept in mind the larger concept of “school as an experience” that captured all kinds of learning. They used Lucas Blair's badge taxonomy (graphic below) to help them figure out the “unknown unknowns” of badging, allowing them to align the many options with the charter school's mission and philosophy to create a badge system based on individual and cooperative badges that reflected the learning experiences of their students and staff.

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The QED charter school badges were designed with student participation, for both the design of the badges and their representation. This ensured the badges created were those that best reflected the goals of the daily reflections and of the learning ecosystem as a whole.

As part of the EOD portal, the team also built in an element of gamification with a ‘badge counter’ that kept track of badges earned, which many students responded to as a source of motivation, momentum, and metacognition, increasing learners’ awareness of their status and progress.

In this way, the badges provided a sense of accomplishment for their successes and feedback for their challenges. They were a way for students to understand where they were on their own personal learning pathways at any point as they progressed towards graduation.

To view the call discussion in full, check out the etherpad notes. You can also check out the QED team’s presentation slides for more details.

Open Badges, wicked problems, and that thing called hope

Carla Casilli

Tue Apr 08 2014 22:37:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

"feather bad weather" by Erik bij de Vaate

“feather bad weather” ©2008 Erik bij de Vaate, used under CC-BY-SA

Open badges: they are so tantalizing to so many people, so full of possibility. They appear to offer so many solutions to so many different problems. They encourage us to look at old problems with new eyes. And precisely because of their dynamism, their precious novelty, we occasionally find ourselves overwhelmed with the hope that they’ll solve all of the problems. Everything.

This, my friends, this is precisely what’s at issue with introducing badges to our current social structure: recognizing that there are problems with existing acknowledgement and recognition systems. Problems that have not been adequately addressed. We need to crack that nut wide open as we begin to figure out how badges might change the game. We need to figure out what works and what’s worth saving in this new badge world. We need to look hard at the wicked problems that they might at least influence.

The issues most often raised about badges—accessibility, injustice, value, meaning, and rigor—are not necessarily about badges themselves but instead are rooted in wicked problems, the larger systemic social, political, and economic issues that surround learning and recognition. When viewed from this perspective, it’s obvious that badges are not a panacea. So, let’s be realistic in our discussions about the ability of badges to solve all issues of access, fairness, and equity: nothing so far has solved those issues and badges alone won’t do it, either. This is a known known; let’s not waste time arguing this point. Instead, let’s wrestle mightily with the all-too-familiar feeling of impotence when discussing any possible inroad to wicked problems. Because discuss them we must.

On the plus side of this discussion, here’s a tiny sample of what badges can do. They can provide markers of social and professional possibilities, they can acknowledge varying degrees of expertise in social skills, they can indicate job skills compatibility, they can evidence a variety of important learning experiences including capturing prior learning, they can demonstrate continued professional engagement, they can represent vastly different company and brand values, and perhaps most importantly, they can provide important and meaningful personal insight.

So for now, while we’re building this ecosystem together, let’s hold tight to that thing with feathers—our sense of hope, our sense of possibility—for when seeking change, particularly systemic change, odd though it may feel and sound to outsiders, optimism is a feature not a bug.

 

If you’re reading this and nodding your head, you might also appreciate this related post from Badge Alliance Executive Director, Erin Knight: More Beefs

Much more soon. carla [at] badgealliance [dot] org

 


Tagged: badges, identity, learning, mozilla, Open badges, openbadges, politics, tools, wicked problems

More Beefs

Erin Knight

Tue Apr 08 2014 16:45:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

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A week or so ago Barry Joseph - a close and valuable colleague and contributor the Open Badges community - posted  “My Beef with Badges”, where he calls for a healthy dose of skepticism and honesty about our successes and our failures with open badges. I do not disagree with Barry’s main point: the goals with the badging work are lofty and tough, and we won’t see any significant impact or change if we aren’t watching closely, sharing (all) findings, recalibrating or evolving as we go. But there are specific points that Barry makes that I, errr, have beefs with, or that I feel deserve more context and discussion.

The problem that concerns me the most is the lack of a broad ecosystem for badges. I want to tell youth in our programs their badges will have value outside our museum, and many even need to hear that as a condition for participation. But without such an ecosystem in place, I’d be lying. 

Again, I do not disagree with the general sentiment: the badging ecosystem is still young and while there is a lot of adoption and interest, there is still much more growth necessary to recognize the potential. It’s true that the ‘issuing’ side of badges has received and continues to receive the most attention from the community. Why? Because without valuable badges out there to earn, the conversation about systemic change stops pretty quickly. That said, in the last year, there has been significantly more interest and work on the ‘consumption’ side of badges - employers using badges in the hiring process, universities using badges for admission, etc. -  and we’ll see even more of that this year, as it’s a top priority of the Badge Alliance. But there are a few things I’ll say:

1) I think we’re selling ourselves and our learners short if we ONLY link ‘value’ with our own top-down predefined measures (i.e. got me a job). There is a lot of value that can come out of learning in and of itself, community participation, as well as reputation and identity building. Before the open badges work, we weren’t doing a very good job recognizing any of that stuff. Now we’re starting to change that, and there’s some value in simply calling it out to youth (or learners of any age for that matter). Recognizing learning can help them know what they know, learn how to learn, discover themselves. And unlike anything else they may have experienced so far in their education-related trials and tribulations, the badges they earn are theirs. They own the data about their learning. They can decide what they value, what is reflective of who they are or want to be. With that as a new starting point, they can begin to build a personalized, customized story in a way that’s valuable to them. So, if we as badge system builders get stuck in a cycle of trying to determine what’s going to be valuable for learners upfront, we’ll find ourselves reinventing the same system we’re dealing with now. Not saying that we shouldn’t be considering how to build badges that are valued and used by employers or admissions folks, but we can’t limit ourselves - or our learners - to that alone.

And its not just about personal gratification or meta-cognition. Look at sites like StackOverflow, who have badges for what seem like completely context-specific behaviors. “Your answer got voted up 100 times!”, “You were the first to answer a question 5 times!”, “You edited someone else’s answer!” In isolation or with our prescriptivist glasses on, some would say that those badges are insignificant and meaningless outside of that context. But turns out those badges, in combination with other badges like “knows Javascript”, start to paint a pretty solid picture of what kind of worker and colleague this person will be. Ultimately those badges could get that person a job, so who are we to condemn them based on our own perceptions or preconceived notions. Let a thousand flowers bloom, something something. Or, as my colleague Carla so eloquently put it, let’s not get stuck behind “The Myth of the Lightweight Badge”. 

2) Don’t wait for the ecosystem, build some of those connections yourself. I’ve endured a lot of finger pointing and curved-eyebrow questioning over the last few years. Which employers are accepting badges? Which badges are being accepted for credit? By whom? Where can I use them? What’s the currency? These are all extremely important questions and as I mentioned before, a top priority of the Badge Alliance. But why wait for it at an ecosystem level? Build in some of the currency directly. Reach out to local businesses, forge that relationship with an institution. You know your learners better than anyone else, so figure out what they want with them and start to layer that into your badge system design thinking. That only makes your badges, your entire offering and the ecosystem more valuable. Win-win-win.

I mean I love them for what I’ve seen them actually achieve: new literacies amongst youth to describe their learning within a Brooklyn  after-school program; new motivation within an Atlanta private school;  pride in portfolios within a Bronx library; a new understanding of how  to use learning technology in a New Orleans day school; the emergence of  formative assessment within a New York museum. I am informed by the  theoretical but guided by practice, by what I have seen with my own eyes  over the past five years…

…But I preferred to focus on that achievement rather than the majority of youth who displayed little interest in badges as their design offered   scant value beyond an additional form of grading. 

I have to say I’m pretty sad if we can’t celebrate the individual learner anymore. Sounds like there were some pretty positive things that came out of the experience for some youth. Let’s not discount that. Indeed, let’s celebrate that! If we are going to hold ourselves to solutions that work for everyone out of the box, we’re on a slippery slope towards standardized testing. 

But OF COURSE the badges didn’t ‘work’ for all youth (although we really need to define what ‘work’ means). Badges are not a silver bullet. They are not a magical solution you can overlay and expect them to enlighten every type of learner out of the box. Does anything work that way? Badges are a tool for recognizing more and connecting more learning than we were able to do before. We still need to approach badging by being thoughtful about how we’re developing them, using them, and consuming them, all the while paying close attention to our learners and their needs, etc. Barry is totally right that we need to be honest about what worked (and who it worked for), and what didn’t work (and who it didn’t work for), so that we can build better systems that have different badges or options for different learners. But we’ve still got to do the work.

But, I do harbor concerns. Not concerns about extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, or whether badges are the right focus for advancing  alternative assessment. Those don’t concern me. 

Interestingly, the things that Barry is not concerned about are the exact elements that we don’t have enough information about. Those are the things that we need the honest feedback and findings about. They are exactly the elements that play into how we design learning experiences and align badge systems that cater to each of our learners.

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We all have a beef, or severals beefs with badges. I would be worried if we didn’t, because that would mean that we weren’t taking this seriously enough; that we didn’t think it had enough potential to warrant the tough questions. “Hopeful skepticism" is a common thing I hear, and even feel myself at times. We don’t have all of the answers figured out, but we agree that there are some problems that need solving and there is definitely some promise, some potential resident in the idea of badges that’s worth exploring.

My ‘yes, and’ to Barry’s general call for sharing and honesty about the failures, would be for us to be open and persistent about our beefs. And equally open and persistent about addressing and solving those beefs. Not to just state them or poke holes - that part is easy - but to commit to doing the hard work of finding answers, finding solutions, and suggesting alternative approaches.

I’m also pretty hopeful that the recent announcement of the Badge Alliance @SRL14 will help in this direction (Marc Lesser, from comments on Barry’s post)

Marc Lesser, of MOUSE and Open Badges community fame is spot on. I too am hopeful that the Badge Alliance will be able to move us towards progress, honesty, and impact. Simply creating the Badge Alliance (with close to 300 organizations already signed up as members), is a statement that we’re committing to collaborating and zeroing in on these issues. And now its my team’s (and ultimately the wider network’s) job everyday to ensure we are not only just talking about our beefs, but actually addressing them.

IN FACT, the Open Badges community call TOMORROW is dedicated to talking through some lessons learned so far. Join us.

So thanks, Barry, for your important and timely post. Looking forward to digging in together.

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-E

(image attribution: www.buedelmeatup.com, www.insidearm.com, www.brandsoftheworld.com)

Micro-Credentials: Empowering Lifelong Learners

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Apr 08 2014 12:20:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Micro-Credentials: Empowering Lifelong Learners:

Edutopia published this piece by Krista Moroder yesterday. Check out this very important paragraph hidden in the middle of the article:

"[B]adges could be a way to demonstrate skills to potential employers, build identity and reputation within learning communities, and create pathways for continued learning and leadership roles."

Did you catch that?

  • Badges can demonstrate skills.
  • Badges can build identities and reputations.
  • Badges can create pathways to opportunities.

That’s some pretty important stuff, if you ask us.

Let’s work together to build rigorous standards for badge assessments and strengthen the value of #openbadges at the ecosystem level.

Read the article in full by clicking the link above.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [34]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Apr 04 2014 18:21:09 GMT+0000 (UTC)

What’s up, badgers?

We could make a terrible (and belated) April fools’ joke here about badges being gone forever…..but that would be just cruel.

We’re not going anywhere, and neither are badges! Just in case anyone doubts us - here’s what’s been going on this week:

What a great week for badges! We hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll see you next week.

Tweet us at @OpenBadges or #openbadges with your badge news, updates and stories - we love hearing about your badgeriffic adventures!

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 2, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Apr 04 2014 10:21:51 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 2, 2014:

Agenda: http://bit.ly/RBSD2April

Speaker: Carla Casilli

This week we were scheduled to hear from Vanessa Gennarelli about her work at P2PU with peer assessment, but unfortunately, she was not able to make this week’s call. You can read more about her work here: http://info.p2pu.org/2014/02/25/in-learning-community-comes-first-slr14/

We were fortunate to have Carla on the call, taking us on a deep dive into her work developing a foundational badge system design, which she has written about prolifically on her blog, which is a great one to bookmark if you are interested in badge research and system design: http://carlacasilli.wordpress.com/

The 3 Part Badge System

Over the past few years, many conversations have centered around badges and rigor – organizations are concerned about maintaining their public brand (and identity) which can sometimes limit the development of badge systems within those organizations. These are issues Carla had to address to help develop Mozilla’s 3 Part Badge System, nicknamed the 3PBS.

Much of Carla’s work into the 3PBS came out of her work developing the Mozilla-wide badge system, where there is both an all-encompassing voice, or brand, as well as a variety of teams within the organization that each have nuanced brands and voices. In developing Mozilla-wide badges, Carla was aware that these teams need badges which accurately reflect their own communities without being overshadowed by the organization-level badges.

To achieve this, Carla developed a badge system in three parts (details copied from Carla’s blog post):

  • Part 1: Company / organization badges
    Many companies and organizations have specific needs and concerns about branding. This system addresses those concerns directly. In this proposed system, an advisory group defines, creates, and governs the highest level of badges—the company / organization badges—providing control over the all-important corporate or academic brand. While not all systems have a need for such strict brand maintenance requirements, this approach allows for conceptual levels of badges to be created while interacting in organic and meaningful ways with other types of badges. An advisory group creates and vets these badges based on the organization’s foundational principles and values. The company/organization badges transmit the most important values of an institution and they address organizational concerns regarding brand value and perceived rigor.
  • Part 2: Team / product badges
    Few organizations exist that do not have some middle layer accomplishing the bulk of the work of the organization; the 3PBS proposal recognizes the team / product groups as necessary and important partners. In addition to acknowledging the contributions of this collection of folks, 3PBS engenders them with the ability to respond to their public through badges. Different teams and products groups can clearly and unequivocally communicate their closely held qualities and values through the creation and issuance of their own badges. These badges are created entirely independently of the Part 1 company / organization badges. In a bit we’ll discuss how the team / product badges play a role in influencing other aspects of the 3PBS.
  • Part 3: Individual / community badges
    So your organization is comprised only of management and teams? Of course not. The 3PBS honors the folks who are on the front lines of any organization—the community—by empowering them to define their values internally as well as externally. These badges operate outside the requirements that define the Company/organization badges and the Team/product badges. The community badges can be created by anyone within the community and do not hew to the visual requirements of the other two subsystems. What this means is that an individual or community can create any types of badges they like. In other words, it provides the ability to publicly participate—to have a voice—in the system.

To further explain these, let’s return to Carla’s blog post. Check out the call notes for the full conversation.

To read the original post on Carla’s blog, click here.

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Introducing the 3 Part Badge System

This badge structure is the one that I developed for the Mozilla badge system that we are in the process of building. I’m calling it the 3 Part Badge System (3PBS). It’s composed of three interlocking parts and those three parts create a flexible structure that ensures feedback loops and allows the system to grow and evolve. Or breathe. And by breathe, I mean it allows the system to flex and bow as badges are added to it.

While some community member organizations have expressed a desire for a strict, locked-down, top-down badge system to—in their words—guarantee rigor (and you already know my thoughts on this), this system supports that request but is also designed to include active participation and badge creation from the bottom up. I’d say it’s the best of both worlds but then I’d be leaving out the middle-out capacity of this system. So in reality, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

This approach is a vote for interculturalism—or the intermingling and appreciation of cultures—in badge systems. Its strength arises from the continuous periodic review of all of the badges, in particular the team / product badges as well as the individual / community badges.

Don’t tell me, show me

It’s easier to talk about this system with some visuals so I’ve designed some to help explain it. Here is the basic 3 part structure: Part 1) company / organization badges; Part 2) team / product badges; and Part 3) individual / community badges. This approach avoids a monocultural hegemony.

Carla Casilli's 3 part badge system design

The basic components of the 3 Part Badge System

How the three different parts influence one another in the 3 Part Badge System

How do these parts interact? In order to communicate how these subsystems can affect each other, I’ve created some color based graphics. You’ve already seen the first one above that describes the initial system.

But first a little basic color theory to ground our understanding of how these subsystems work together to create a dynamic and powerful system. The basic 3 part structure graphic above uses what are known as primary colors, from the Red, Yellow, Blue color model. Centuries of art are based on these three colors in this color model. The following graphics further explore the RYB color model and move us into the world of secondary colors. Secondary colors result from the mixing of two primary colors: mixing red and yellow results in orange; mixing yellow and blue results in green; mixing blue and red results in purple. Now that we’ve established how the color theory used here works, we can see how the parts represented by these colors  indicate intermixing and integration of badges.

Individual / community badges influence team / product badges

The 3PBS concept relies on badge development occurring at the individual and community level. By permitting and even encouraging community and individual level badging, the system can will continuously reform itself, adjusting badges upward in importance in the system. That’s not to say that any part of this system is superior to another, merely that these parts operate in different ways to different audiences. As I wrote in my last post, meaning is highly subjective and context-specific.

individual / community badges influencing team / product badges

Individual / community badges influencing the team / product badges in 3PBS

This graphic illustrates the team / product created and owned badges assimilating some badges from the individual / community created and owned badges. The graphic also indicates that the company / organization badges can be held separate from this influence—if so desired.

Periodic review by the team / product groups of the individual and community badges likely will reveal patterns of use and creation. These patterns are important data points worth examining closely. Through them the larger community reveals its values and aspirations. Consequently, a team or product group may choose to integrate certain individual / community badges into their own badge offerings. In this way a badge begins to operate as a recognized form of social currency, albeit a more specific or formalized currency. The result of this influencing nature? The team and product group badge subsystem refreshes itself by assimilating new areas of interest pulled directly from the larger, more comprehensive and possibly external community.

Team / product badges badges influence company / organization badges

Company and organization level badges operate in precisely the same way, although the advisory group who is responsible for this level of badge can look across both the team / product badges as well as the individual / community badges. That experience will look something like this in practice.

teamprodtransformcompany

Team / product badges influencing company / organization badges in 3PBS

Periodic review of the team / product badges by the advisory group responsible for company and organization badges may reveal duplicates as well as patterns. Discussion between the advisory group and the teams responsible for those badges may indicate that a single standard badge is appropriate. Considering that teams and product group badges are created independently by those groups, apparent duplication among teams may not necessarily be a bad thing: context is all important in the development and earning of badges. That said, examination and hybridization of some badges from the team and product groups may create a stronger, more coherent set of company and organization level badges.

Individual / community badges influence company / organization badges

In addition to being able to examine and consider team and product level badges, the advisory group responsible for the company / organization badges can also find direct inspiration from individual and community created badges. Since there are few to no rules that govern the creation of the individual / community created and owned badges, insightful, dramatic, and wildly creative badges can occur at this level. Because they come through entirely unfiltered, those sorts of badges are precisely the type to encourage rethinking of the entirety of the 3PBS.

indcommtransformcompany

Individual / community badges influencing company / organization badges in 3PBS

Here we see how the individual / community created and owned badges can significantly color the company / organization badges. Since the company / organization badges communicate universal values, it’s vital that those values remain valid and meaningful. Incorporating fresh thinking arising from individual and community badges can help to ensure that remains true.

Three parts, one whole

So, if we loop back to the original system, prior to the (color) interactions of one part to another, we can see how each part might ultimately influence one another. This is the big picture to share with interested parties who are curious as to how this might work.

The 3PBS model with different types of influence.

The 3PBS model with different types of influence.

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Badge Alliance Working Group on Research

We are in the process of developing a working group focused on research which Sheryl Grant has kindly agreed to chair. This work will kick off in a few weeks. More about this a bit later in our call.

If you are interested in joining the working group mailing list, please reach out to Carla at carla@badgealliance.org

To express interest in the other initial Badge Alliance working groups, fill out the form at badgealliance.org

Open Badges Community Call, April 2, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Apr 03 2014 23:49:33 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Call, April 2, 2014:

Speakers:

  • Kate Radionoff & Leslie Voigt, Madison Area Technical College
  • Phil Barker & Lorna Campbell, CETIS

Agenda: http://bit.ly/CCApril2

This week we heard some updates from an exciting - and expanding - badge system at Madison Area Tech College, and kicked off a conversation about LRMI and badges.

Badges for non-credit learning

Kate Radionoff joined us in September 2013 after Madison Area Tech College (MATC) announced it would be launching digital open badges for their continuing education and non-credit professional development courses. This week, she returned with her colleague Leslie Voigt, the instructional designer behind MATC’s badge system, to take a deep dive into the work they’ve been doing and share some lessons learned along the way.

At MATC Kate was trying to shift focus away from seat time towards more meaningful assessment methods with non-credit learning. When she began exploring the potential of open badges, she began designing a way to integrate badgeable assessments into the existing non-credit learning experiences at MATC.

Around the same time, Pearson was preparing to launch their Acclaim platform and were looking for beta testers. After struggling to find a platform that worked within the school’s restrictions on open source code, the MATC system began using Acclaim, transitioning existing badges over to the new platform and adding new ones as students earned them. As of January 2014, the system is fully functional, badges and all.

As they move forward, they are looking to expand their badge system to a network of colleges using badges, including Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD, and Harper Community College in Palatine, IL. Within MATC, the goal is for all professional development courses to be badged, to build industry partnerships, and continue in their efforts to inform and educate employers on the potential uses and value of badges.

Kate and her team recognized from an early stage the clear importance of alternative credentials and building learning pathways to translate non-formal learning into accredited recognition of learning. To help her design the MATC badge system, Kate enlisted the expertise of Leslie Voigt, who walked the group through the system and outlined the process badge earners go through in order to showcase their non-credit learning achievements.

Their badge system is in the process of expanding to include new classes, so they are focused on defining which classes will be badged – and how – including defining assessments and detailing learning outcomes to be aimed for. There are 120 badges to be rolled out this summer, encompassing multiple assessments within 25-30 new classes not currently part of the system.

Other features to be built out in the coming months are sharing badges to public profiles, expanding their network of colleges, and accessing data on the badges. As Leslie told the group: “people want to see numbers” – that means generating reports on the number of badges awarded, accepted, and published. They also hope to begin analyzing what badge earners are doing with their badges: what opportunities are the badges helping make accessible? Are employers valuing the badges? What learning or career pathways are their badges supporting?

Lessons learned

Kate outlined a number of lessons she learned throughout the process of designing and implementing the MATC badge system:

  • It might be useful, or even necessary, to find an instructional resource: it can be helpful to have a point person within the educational institution designing the badge system who can help guide others who may be issuing badges (in this case, the faculty)
  • It is important to keep in mind that full time instructors are very busy, and will likely need someone to take the lead and connect with them about the badges
  • Know your resources: you must factor in staff resources and work within the limitations of these
  • Figure out your badge business model and design strategy ahead of time: by clearly defining your goals at the start, it is easier to work out the steps needed to get there, as well as defining what “success” means for your badge system. By doing this beforehand, you avoid ‘chasing your tail’ throughout the design and implementation process
  • Faculty buy-in: allow time for gaining faculty buy-in and provide plenty of information and training sessions for them
  • Employer buy-in: look at existing value structures or standards that can add value to badges and, if appropriate, work with these to strengthen your badge system

To read more about the MATC badge system, check out http://madisoncollege.edu/badges

To view or download Kate’s slides, click here.

LRMI and badges

Phil Barker recently pointed to the possibilities for connecting badges to LRMI (Learning Resource Metadata Initiative) in the Community Google Group, and joined this week’s call to kick off that conversation with the assembled call attendees.

Phil and his colleague Lorna Campbell both work with the Centre for Educational Technology, Interoperability and Standards (CETIS) on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) which is funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Creative Commons and the American Association of Publishers. The platform is schema.org and the goal of this platform is to help identify different tagged attributes for resources on the web, from authorship to content.

The key feature that Phil sees as a potential link to badges is the alignment object, which indicates how a learning resource aligns to educational frameworks (e.g. identifying the structure of the Web Literacy Map and aligning resources to those components.) Phil and Lorna suggest it would be useful to align the Mozilla Alignment object with the LRMI Alignment object by drawing a connection between what both are addressing. LRMI is concerned with learning materials, and open badges are concerned with how to recognize learning. Phil asks: how can we accentuate the similarities?

LRMI tagging makes it possible for digital (learning) resources to show up in search engine results - it’s about discoverability of content. Extending that discoverability to types of badges available to be earned, tied to that content or to other existing standards, could be an interesting avenue to explore.

To read the discussion notes on LRMI and badges from the Community Call, click here https://openbadges.etherpad.mozilla.org/CCApril2.

Phil wrote about his experience on the Community Call on his blog: read it here.

To continue the discussion, head over to the Open Badges Google Group: http://bit.ly/OBgoogle

 

#openbadgesMOOC — Session 8: Introducing Mozilla BadgeKit [an FAQ of sorts]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Apr 03 2014 08:11:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials
Session Session 8: Introducing Mozilla BadgeKit
#openbadgesMOOC
Session Recording: http://bit.ly/OBMOOC8

This week on the #openbadgesMOOC, New Currency for Professional Credentials, Sunny Lee walked through Mozilla BadgeKit, the new set of open, foundational tools to support the entire badging process currently available in private beta for select partners developing badges for their communities. You can view Sunny’s slides here.

As many of our community members have already read, seen or listened to many different presentations introducing BadgeKit, we will take this opportunity to address some more frequently asked questions that we didn’t get to in our BadgeKit announcement.

What is BadgeKit?

BadgeKit is a set of open, foundational tools to make the badging process easy. It includes tools to support the entire process, including badge design, creation, assessment and issuing, remixable badge templates, milestone badges to support leveling up, and much more. The tools are open source and have common interfaces to make  it easy to build additional tools or customizations on top of the  standard core, or to plug in other tools or systems.

BadgeKit  builds on existing technologies that have evolved out of several years of work and user testing, including Chicago Summer of Learning. In fact, specific tools within BadgeKit are currently being used for key partners within the badges ecosystem (i.e. Connected Educators.)

Mozilla BadgeKit is now available in private beta for select partner  organizations that  meet specific technical requirements. And anyone can  download the code  from GitHub and implement it on their own servers. 

BadgeKit:

  • Improves the badging experience for issuers, learners and consumers, by making badging easy to do.
  • Closes the current gaps in the ecosystem by providing free, open badging tools to support the needs of issuers. 
  • Provides foundational tools needed to help grow and develop the open badges ecosystem.
  • Builds our values of openness, interoperability, agency, choice, and connectedness into the way we recognize learning and skills, and helps shape emerging badge systems.

BadgeKit is open source, so improvements made by community members benefit everyone, from bug fixes to new features and more. It is also easily extendable, working seamlessly with other open tools and systems as they emerge.

Why BadgeKit?

While open badges technology has been gaining momentum - with more than 2,000 organizations issuing badges that align with the Open Badges system - there are still ways we can make it easier for organizations to join the ecosystem.

Today, there are too many gaps in the badging experience and many of the existing options are too closed, too expensive or too big. In fact, given the current options for organizations interested in issuing badges, it can be harder to make an open badge than a closed badge!

What tools does BadgeKit include?

BadgeKit  provides modular and open options (standards) for the community of badge makers to use and build upon within their existing sites or systems. Currently, BadgeKit supports key points in the badging experience, including:

  • Design: A tool for defining all of the metadata, including criteria pages, and finalizing visual design for each badge.
  1. Templates: Visual and metadata designs that can be remixed by anyone creating a badge.
  2. Milestones: The ability to have a group of badges level up to a larger, more significant badge.
  • Assess: A tool for mentor or peer assessment that includes issuer defining rubrics and criteria for a  badge, the ability for learners to apply for a  badge by adding information and evidence, as well as access for  assessors to manage applications and enable review and scoring.
  • Issue: A tool for awarding badges to learners and hosting assertions to enable badges to be pushed to Backpacks.
  • Collect: A “Backpack” for collecting badges across various experiences or organizations. 

Throughout 2014, we will be adding additional tools to BadgeKit, including: 

  • Discover: A directory of available badges with features for searching, filtering, wish listing and endorsing badges.
  • Share: A tool to enable easy sharing of badge on various sites across the web (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.).
  • Collect: Backpacks will become “federated”, meaning that different instances still plug into the broader ecosystem and can share data across.

How can I use BadgeKit?

Mozilla BadgeKit is now available in private beta for select partner  organizations that meet specific technical requirements. And anyone can  download the code from GitHub and implement it on their own servers. 

SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE: At BadgeKit.org, you’ll be able to access BadgeKit: a hosted version of the tools to build out badges, remix badge templates, create badge levels, issue badges, etc. APIs will make it easy to then pull the badges and end user  interfaces into your own website. All of the backend pieces are hosted, supported and updated by Mozilla, and you’ll have complete control over the experience of your end users through your own sites.

DOWNLOAD: Easily download the code from https://github.com/mozilla/openbadges-badgekit  and install the tools on your own server. 

What’s the difference between downloading the code from Github and using the private beta version of BadgeKit?

In downloading the BadgeKit code, you will be in charge of the backend and hosting of BadgeKit, and will be able to customize and extend the tools as much as needed.

For the private beta version of BadgeKit, all the backend pieces are hosted, supported and updated by  Mozilla, while you still have complete control over the experience of your end users on your own sites through our APIs.

Is BadgeKit available now?

Yes - Mozilla BadgeKit is available in private beta for select partner organizations that meet specific technical requirements. Visit www.badgekit.org to learn more and apply for private beta access.

And BadgeKit code is currently available on Github, with additional features set to be added in the coming months. To download the tools, visit Github: https://github.com/mozilla/openbadges-badgekit.

How can I sign up for BadgeKit?

Mozilla BadgeKit is available in private beta for select partner organizations that meet specific technical requirements. 

To apply for private beta access, visit www.badgekit.org. Given your organization meets the specific hosted version requirements, you will receive a follow-up email with full details on how to get started. 

What are the technical requirements for the hosted version of BadgeKit?

The technical requirements necessary for private beta access to the hosted version of BadgeKit are:

  • You have a front end website or have resources to develop one
  • You have technical resources on staff to integrate the BadgeKit APIs into your experience
  • You intend to build or roll out a badge system for your community and organization in 2014

How are you selecting partners for the private beta?

Right  now we’re making that decision based on each organization’s technical resources and capacity. But by the end of 2014, the hosted version will be available to any organization looking to implement a badging system! 

Who is BadgeKit for?

BadgeKit is currently in private beta and can be used by any issuing organization that meets specific technical requirements. It is aimed at organizations that  are building full badge systems and want to leverage their own sites and  systems on the front end, as well as have access to technology  resources. Tool providers might also be interested in leveraging BadgeKit to extend their own tools, or build additional customizations on top of BadgeKit.

I am a middle school teacher looking to issue badges. Can I use BadgeKit?

Not yet. Today, BadgeKit is currently in private beta and meant for organizations that have access to technology resources and are looking to implement a full badge system. We are exploring ways to create a lighter weight version of BadgeKit that could be used by individuals, and hope to have it ready later this year. In the meantime check out the additional community driven issuing platforms at http://bit.ly/platform-chart to help you get started. 

I want to issue a badge to a large group of people at one time. Is that possible?

Not yet - but we’re working on it! You can track progress in Github here: https://github.com/mozilla/openbadges-badgekit/issues/205.

I need help. Is there someone that can help me?

We have a variety of ways we can help. You can simply select the option that best meets your needs:

You can download a printable version of this FAQ to share with your communities, and Sunny’s slides from the live session are available here.

#badgekit 
#openbadges

AERA 2014 Sessions on Digital Badges

Re-mediating Assessment

Thu Apr 03 2014 04:11:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)


by Christine Chow

Several of my colleagues in the world of open digital badges are heading to the AERA conference April 4-6 in Philadelphia. It looks like there’s a great program of sessions lined up, including some interesting research on digital badges. Here’s a rundown of the badges sessions at the conference.

Innovations in Learning in the Digital Age: Highlighting badges research at AERA
Fri, April 4, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, 100 Level, 122A
http://tinyurl.com/kgbep7v

AERA president Barbara Schneider asked the MacArthur Foundation to help organize this invited panel. Constance Steinkuehler is chairing a panel discussion, and it will be followed by breakout discussions & demos. Dan Hickey will discuss the broader landscape of research on digital badges, and Jim Diamond, Katie Davis, Cathy Tran, and others will join the discussion. Other panelists include Erin Hoffman, Game Design Lead from GlassLab, Jeff Curley from iCivics, L. Michael Golden from Educurious, Kemi Jona from Northwestern University’s FUSE, and Rafi Santo from Indiana University’s Hive Research Lab.

Innovations in Learning Technologies (In Roundtable Session 13)
Sat, April 5, 8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, Terrace Level, Terrace IV
http://tinyurl.com/ltpuxa9

This roundtable paper will consider the role and impact of research in the midst of recent educational advances and potentially disruptive technologies. Janet Twyman of the Center on Innovations in Learning will be discussing badges and other advances in gaming technology.

Innovating Education Practice Through Digital Badges: Recent Research, Current Practices, and Future Directions
Symposium chaired by Katie Davis, University of Washington
Sat, April 5, 2:45 to 4:15pm, Convention Center, 100 Level, 113C

http://tinyurl.com/n8low97

The symposium will feature presentations and papers on four externally-funded badge research projects. Sean Fullerton will discuss the studies he is doing with Katie Davis on stakeholder perceptions; Sam Abramovich will discuss interest-based learning; Alex Halavais will discuss acceptability of badges; Dan Hickey will discuss the findings from the Design Principles Documentation Project.

Badges in Games for Learning and Their Motivational and Cognitive Impact (In Poster Session 10)
Jan L. Plass, Paul A. O’Keefe, Melissa Biles, Jonathan Frye, Bruce Douglas Horner
Sat, April 5, 2:45 to 4:15pm, Convention Center, 200 Level, Hall E

http://tinyurl.com/lshsyja

HASTAC Badges Research Awardee Jan Plass will present new research on the effects of different types of badges and the contextual factors that impact the effectiveness of badges. This is really important new research that should be quite relevant to many people interested in the impact of badges.

Peer-Awarded Merit Badges for Encouraging and Recognizing Disciplinary Engagement in Online Courses
Dan Hickey, Andi Rehak, and Lauren Smith
Sun, April 6, 8:15 to 10:15am, Marriott, Fifth Level, Grand Ballroom G

http://tinyurl.com/mp7yyme

This paper is included in a session organized by the online education special interest group. It concerns simple “merit badges” that students awarded each other, as comments within threaded discussions of student generated artifacts in an online graduate-level course in education. They found that most of three-quarters of the merit badges were awarded for productive forms of disciplinary engagement and themselves represented productive disciplinary engagement. (Lauren Smith was added as an author after the proposal was submitted.)

Design Principles and Enacted Practices for Recognizing Learning With Digital Badges: A Collective Case Study
Andi Rehak, Daniel Hickey, & Christine Chow
Sun, April 6, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 11

http://tinyurl.com/mogebra

This paper is presented in a session in the Advanced Technologies for Learning Special Interest Group. It presents interim findings for using digital badges to recognize learning from the Design Principles Documentation Project. It includes three case studies from three of the DML 2012 badges awardees, including Providence After School Alliance, Planet Stewards, and Sweetwater AQUAPONS. (This proposal was submitted before I joined the project, and I helped out on this paper and was added as an author.)

Designing Game-Based Assessment Around Learning Progressions
Sun, April 6, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 6

http://tinyurl.com/k2s8za6

While this symposium is not explicitly about digital badges, it features some of the most innovative folks in the world of assessment, and they will certainly touch on important issues for anybody interested in digital badges. Diego Zapata-Rivera from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) is chairing the symposium, which features presentations from Ball State University’s Paul Gestwicki, ETS’s Edith Aurora Graf, Meirav Arieli-Attali, Yi Song, Jesse R. Sparks, and Florida State University’s Yoon Jeon Kim and Valerie J. Shute.

Considering the Implications of Assessment Design for Learning in Digital Badge Systems
Rebecca Itow and Dan Hickey
Sun, April 6, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 7

http://tinyurl.com/n42nwcs

This paper session of the Learning Sciences Special Interest Group will feature a paper by Rebecca Itow and Dan Hickey. They are presenting the design principles for assessing learning with digital badges that emerged from the Design Principles Documentation Project. It will also compare how three very different projects assessed learning around their digital badges project.

Feasibility of Badges for Adult Learners

Erin Knight

Tue Apr 01 2014 14:19:29 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Last Wednesday, the Office of Vocational Adult Education (OVAE), in partnership with the American Institute of Research (AIR), hosted a federal briefing on two working papers they’ve recently published, one of which is The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners.

That paper is the initial outcome of a project they kicked off last year around exploring the feasibility of badging in the adult learning space. As part of that project I was invited to co-author the initial version of the paper along with Jonathan Finkelstein from Learning Times and Susan Manning from Northwestern University.

I have to say co-authoring can be really hard, especially when you aren’t co-located, but the AIR/OVAE folks did a pretty fantastic job wrangling us. It was a pretty fun experience, which included synchronous writing sessions on key issues to start to form a pool of notes that the outline was then derived from, dividing and conquering pieces of the paper and then swapping to put some fresh flavor, and facilitated chat discussions with a wider community to get feedback.

I learned a lot about adult learners in the process and really got excited about the potential. Adult learners are ‘non-traditional’. They may be looking to enter a new career path with more opportunity for them, or to learn skills necessary to advance within their job. They often have many life demands that make a 4 (or even 2) year degree unrealistic both financially and time-commitment-wise. They often have a wealth of life or job experience that is not recognized in any way, or easily communicated to a potential employer. The existing education system wasn’t set up for these types of learners and it does not always offer them many options. For me, badging was more than just feasible, it is needed. The adult learning space is screaming for a new way of thinking about learning recognition, discovery and communication. It’s screaming for badges. The obvious fits out of the gate were:

  • Badges can liberate adult learners from lengthy, required prescribed pathways, and allow for more a la carte choice. This also potentially shifts the power balance a bit so that teaching and learning institutions are competing for the learner, versus the other way around.
  • Badges can recognize more incremental learning so that a learner has something to show for the time they could put in, even if they couldn’t finish the course or complete the program at one particular time.
  • Badges can offer a map - a way for learners to better understand the skills they have, the skills they need, and where to find learning opportunities.
  • And finally, badges can help learners build their complete story and identity (including representing experience they already have) and connect that directly to employers.

While working through the paper, the conversation quickly moved from feasibility, to where to dig in first. The paper does a nice job outlining the potential uses of badges, as well as the particular affordances of badges that AIR/OVAE and the broader community felt had the most potential for adult learners. Some overlap with my initial thinking, but said much more eloquently. I’ll share an excerpt here:

Digital badge standardization and the democratization of achievement recognition:
A world where achievement is recognized primarily with diplomas and degrees represents a world full of barriers for many adults. Badges break down walls and allow many organizations—even those not traditionally in the credit-granting realm to recognize success and achievement in their own domains of observation and interaction with people.

Granularity, portability, and retention:
As the very definitions of literacy and most adult literacy curricula suggest, the skills required to be truly literate span a wide range of competencies and can be developed across a broad spectrum of disciplines. For adults, whose life demands make them prone to interruptions in completing courses of study, the granular nature of digital badges makes them an appealing measure of ongoing progress and success.

Embedded learning, new skills, and alternative providers:
By virtue of their capacity to recognize discrete skills and the
fact that any organization or entity can issue badges or digital credentials, digital badges open the door for the recognition of new skills and competencies….Badges magnify the potential to reward adult learners for their contributions, involvement, and achievement in nontraditional and alternative learning settings.

Despite a late March snow storm in DC, the briefing was well attended (only virtually by me thanks to said snow storm) and there was a lot of great discussion around the paper and badging in general. A few of the points that came up have inspired additional blog posts that will follow shortly.

All-in-all, a great experience and great things ahead.

-E

Why I still believe in badges [DMLcentral]

Doug Belshaw

Tue Apr 01 2014 09:20:23 GMT+0000 (UTC)

My latest post for DMLcentral is up. Entitled Why I still believe in badges, it’s a response to a comment by a Philosophy professor (who will remain anonymous) that Open Badges are merely a way that for-profit companies can get a slice of the action in Higher Education.

A quotation from the article:

While badges could, potentially, be used for nefarious purposes, it’s my belief that the open, distributed architecture of the code and community means that we can seek to improve our education both inside and outside the walls of institutions. This is not about ‘disrupting’ education for the sake of it or for private profit. This is about providing another way of doing things to promote human flourishing.

You can read the whole thing at DMLcentral. Please do comment over there (I’ve closed comments here).

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [33]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Mar 28 2014 23:04:10 GMT+0000 (UTC)

What a week it’s been at Mozilla. We are so lucky to be part of such a varied and supportive working community - especially on the badges team (though we might be biased!)

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

  • On our Community Call this week Barry Joseph kicked off a great conversation about how to foster communication across our networks - for a full summary and a link to the audio download, click here
  • On our Research + Badge System Design Call Verena Roberts took us through her work on integrating informal and formal learning with competency-based learning and badges - for a full summary and a link to the audio download, click here
  • Erin Knight, Executive Director of the newly formed Badge Alliance, dug into the Alliance tagline and how it’s going to drive the initiative
  • Jade outlined some of the team’s transitions from the badges team to the Badge Alliance leadership group
  • Lucas Blair wrote a guest post for the Open Badges blog on the Discovery Project interview process and how people’s stories become their learning pathways

Badges have had some shout-outs in the wider world this week too:

It’s been a long week: go and enjoy your weekend, relax, dance, sing, read, sleep - find your happy places - and we’ll see what Monday brings!

Research & Badge System Design Call: March 26, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Mar 28 2014 21:09:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Research & Badge System Design Call: March 26, 2014:

Agenda: http://bit.ly/RBSD26March

Speaker: Verena Roberts

Verena Roberts spent the last six months working on a final project for her Masters in Educational Technology Degree with the University of British Columbia. Much of her work investigated integrating formal and informal learning and how to develop learning pathways for m101, a pilot course in mobile learning at UBC. Open badges plays an important role in the research and proposal suggestions, which can be found on her blog.

To see Verena’s presentation document, click here.

How to create a credible currency around informal learning?

This question was at the heart of Verena’s work, and her presentation to the research call attendees. Originally, Verena was more interested in exploring MOOCs in K-12 rather than higher education, and developed a MOOC for K-12 with the help of Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0 and Web 2.0 Labs, which was based on digital citizenship. At the end of the course, she created a badge that students could choose to apply for, but many of her students felt better “learning for the sake of learning,” saying the badge option put more pressure on them - so she removed the badge from the course.

This process led Verena to think about what learning was all about - wanting to capture learning that happens anywhere, to engage more students, and focus on open learning. Verena was asked by Hargadon how to create a credible currency for informal learning, a concept that fascinated her and spurred her into her more recent work.

The term ‘currency’ is inherently linked to value, and so led Verena to the question: what was the value associated with this work? What makes open learning important?

Verena carried out a literature review focusing on a “hybrid pedagogy” drawing on her experience in K-12 and looking at flexible, open learning programs. From this, she then looked at how to create potential badge types for competencies that could form a common currency for informal learning.

Questions Verena addressed included:

  • How do we measure learning anywhere and anytime?
  • How can we ensure that out of school learning get recognized and appreciated?
  • Will teachers value informal learning? How can we help them value it?
When examining ways to track informal learning, she “became obsessed with learning pathways” and inevitably began to track and examine her own learning pathway - an “autoethnography" of her own learning experiences.

Badge what you don’t have

Verena’s research dug into what competency-based learning (CBL) means, which wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Within the US, the idea of CBL has only recently begun to gain more clarity and traction in the public dialogue, and outside of the US there are very different ideas about how particular competencies are defined. The differences between Europe and the US were especially confusing, but led her to an important conclusion: that, overall, “competencies may have many definitions, meanings, interpretations, and perceptions.”

Ultimately, Verena says, competency-based learning and badges won’t be about what you know but about what you do with that knowledge. That means framing badge criteria based on skills but also behaviors and competencies that are needed.

One of the first questions many are asked when they start looking into badges as a way to track and recognize learning is, "what do you badge?" Verena’s answer was one that intrigued a number of us: "You badge what you don’t have." This means using badges to recognize learning that is occurring beyond the formal learning environments, which is already represented by a certification or diploma, etc.

Verena created different badge 'types' and 'levels' for the m101 mobile learning course as a result of her work, going through numerous iterations of badges and competency frameworks (see page three).

Conclusions & next steps

Badges are part of an emerging pedagogy.” This was Verena’s overall conclusion that she took from her in-depth work exploring competencies, pathways and badges. 

To see how badges were perceived, Verena spoke to industry leaders and communities about their thoughts on badges to determine whether they could be taken seriously in the contexts she was exploring. The most common questions she was asked were about trust, credibility and representation - leading to the question at the beginning of this post: how can a common language, and currency, around informal learning be fostered that imparts value onto badges that is recognized across sectors by those who ‘count’?

Visit Verena’s blog for more information and ongoing updates on her incredible work: http://www.openclassroomonline.com/

Verena’s work is an important part of the growing body of exploratory research into some of the issues we have been tackling in these calls. The newly formed Badge Alliance will continue to address this and other key issues facing the badging ecosystem - and you can help!

The Badge Alliance is currently in the process of developing a working group focused on research. They are looking for cabinet members and a chairperson to help guide this work, which will kick off in a few weeks. If you are interested, get in touch with Carla at carla@badgealliance.org

Community Call, March 26, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Mar 28 2014 18:36:23 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Community Call, March 26, 2014:

Speaker:

  • Barry Joseph, Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives, American Museum of Natural History

Agenda: http://bit.ly/CCMarch26

This week we opened up an important discussion around how to strengthen and expand the badging ecosystem through increased knowledge-sharing and platforms for communities to come together and learn from the experiences of others.

Let’s keep talking

In a recent blog post, Barry made a call to action - or rather, a call to conversation:

"If we advancing digital badging systems want to solve the major challenges before us — badging networks that link learning organizations to each other and to career and academic opportunities; badge system designs that can offer different value to different youth; comprehensive, elegant and flexible tools; and more — we need to start painting the full picture. Let’s welcome newcomers to this important project not by asking them to rebuild the wheel but to learn with us through public and honest self-reflective practices."

In his own badging explorations, and those of others he has worked with and spoken to, he found that many who are starting out with badges seem to come up against the same obstacles, and wonders if there is a way to avoid or diminish these blocks by sharing more about what we know, how we got there, and lessons learned along the way.

In 2008, Barry was working  at Global Kids on a project to help youth develop metacognitive skills, for which they would earn badges. He has since worked with the first Hive network, in New York, and now works on digital learning programs for youth through the American Museum of Natural History. 

In each of these endeavors Barry has worked with badging programs, and has heard the same struggles many times. In participating in badging initiatives, he has observed that much of the dialogue has been split, with the positives of badging being presented publicly - and often in response to a general set of concerns, whether actual or perceived. On the other hand, the problems faced by those building badges were often discussed internally rather than shared publicly. As a result, new badging initiatives came across the same problems again and again because they hadn’t been told about previous experiences in their entirety.

A connected issue Barry is concerned with is the limitations of badge value in the current ecosystem, young and disconnected as it is at times: while many badges may have ‘local’ value within the issuing organization and its immediate community, Barry wants badges to gain more ‘global’ value and inter-connectivity, echoed in our own goals for the ecosystem.

The Badge Alliance

The issues raised in this call are some of the biggest reasons the Badge Alliance was created. Meg, the Director of Marketing + Operations at the Alliance, shared this with the group: “[C]ollectively, as a community, we can start tackling some of these issues and make progress through working together,” adding that simply raising these issues won’t solve them - we have to “put [our] heads together and offer insights, start to roadmap ways to solve them.”

The initial Badge Alliance working groups have been formed and members have been recruited from across numerous sectors and continents to focus community efforts on the key questions and issues facing the open badges ecosystem, as Jade, the Alliance’s Social Media + Community Manager, shared in a recent blog post detailing some of the changes the Alliance will bring.

One of these groups will focus on messaging - how we talk about badges to different audiences - and others will focus on building broader, deeper, stronger badge systems around the world, for educators, cities, the workforce and others. Another will build our research base, drawing on the great work of others to strengthen the connections between those working the hardest to help this movement progress.

Efforts such as the badge Design Principle Documentation Project at Indiana University are digging into the challenges facing those who are developing badge systems and passing on lessons learned. Our own case studies echo many of the same themes, challenges and lessons, as do other groups working internationally to build badge systems - including HASTAC in the US, Jisc in Scotland and many others in higher education., informal learning, and the workforce.

Many voices, many choices

Even from that short list, it is clear there are a myriad environments badges can be deployed, from international networks to niche communities - each with their own goals, needs, limitations and discoveries to share.

We have created a number of spaces for those exploring open badges to share their trials and successes:

  • There are weekly Community Calls that explore many open badges topics, including new and ongoing open badges projects and related initiatives

  • We also host weekly Research Calls that dig deep into varied projects related to badges, and the development of badge systems across numerous sectors

We also have a number of active social media channels that are monitored daily and can be a source of news, updates, answers, and resources:

We even have spaces for the technical among us to explore new ideas, report issues and collaborate to make the open badging ecosystem stronger from the inside out:

  • The Open Badges Tech Panels are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. These calls are a place for our team and community contributors to explore technical topics within open badges. It provides our developers and engineers a chance to share prototypes and new ideas, and for community members to raise questions and give feedback in an informal setting

Of course, if anyone has questions about anything badges-related at any time, it’s easy to send us an email at badges@mozillafoundation.org - someone from the team will get in touch, usually within 24 hours.

Share your stories!

We are hugely community-driven at Mozilla, and the Open Badges project is no different. We work in the open, and encourage others to do so if it suits them. If you, your organization or someone you are connected to is developing a badge system and isn’t sure of their next steps - or even their first steps - it is almost a guarantee that someone in our vibrant global community has been there before and can offer guidance. Our Community Google Group is the fastest way to connect with them, as is our Twitter feed, including the hashtag #openbadges.

To reflect back on Barry’s words from his blog post - "let’s welcome newcomers to this important project not by asking them to rebuild the wheel but to learn with us" - it is important to all of us that the lessons we learn can benefit not just our own projects, but our collective goals to build a robust ecosystem representative of the great work being done by its earliest pioneers. If we can do that better, we will. If you have ideas, let us know!

One last thing … We’ve made this call many times, but here is another great opportunity for us to repeat it: if you have implemented an open badge system in your organization, we want to hear from you! Our first set of case studies were published last month in time for the Summit to Reconnect Learning, but we’d love to get more of these experiences written down for our community. Fill out this form to share your initial details and we’ll be in touch to set up a time to follow-up with a call.

Lucas Blair | Tell Us Your Story

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Mar 26 2014 14:23:35 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Lucas Blair, an educational game designer and badge curriculum superstar, has been working with Chloe Varelidi, Mike Larsson and others to drive the Open Badges Discovery project. The project team recently joined us for a Community Call in which they gave an overview of their process and findings thus far.

Below is a guest post from Lucas that takes us through the interview process and how people’s stories become their learning pathways.

Follow Lucas on Twitter: @LucasBlair

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Tell us your story

Collecting real stories and turning them into pathways has been an important part of the Open Badges Discovery project. The stories allow us to test our designs against real use cases and some will even launch with the tool as examples. In this blog post I will share the process that we use and some tips to get the most out of your pathway interviews. Keep in mind that this process is written in a blog, not in stone. Like everything that comes out of Mozilla, you are encouraged mix it up or discard it entirely for a process that you like better. If you do find a better way, please share it with us and the community.

Pathways are stories. Sometimes those stories come from issuers that would like to see specific skills in their applicants or others who want to help their current employees grow. Some stories come from earners recalling the experiences that got them to where they are now. Other tales are aspirational, like those of students who set goals with their pathways, by identifying badges that they want to earn some day. No matter who is telling the story, to effectively capture it you have to ask the right questions when the interviewee needs your help and get out of the way when they don’t.

The Process

We decided to make a distinction very early in the process between issuers and earners because they have different needs and will have different stories. Issuers create pathway templates that make suggestions about the the types of badges they would like to see. Earners complete the pathway templates with the badges they have earned and fill free spaces with unearned badges that are goals. The good news is that the interview process is the same, just from different angles. For example you ask an issuer “what skills do you want to see?” and you ask an earner “What badges have you earned?” For both questions, as an interviewer, you are trying to identify badgeable moments.

After introductions I start interviews off by defining what badges and pathways are. Remember that what we are building is still relatively new to most people. I say something like:

  • Digital badges - A visual representation of your skills and experiences. A digital credential.
  • Pathways - A collection of digital badges organized in a way that gives additional meaning beyond the information provided by the badges alone. (Metaphors work well here too, like constellations or trees).

I take some notes up front so I can easily identify the interview later. Typically things like name, current occupation, and a determination of whether the person in an issuer or an earner. For the last part what you are really asking is are you capturing someone’s story or are you trying to determine what they look for in a candidate (hiring or admissions for example). Then it is time to dive in. Ask interviewees to start from the beginning. Take notes as they speak and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat a section, add detail to a section, or redirect them if they get off track. Do not feel like you have to identify all of the badgeable moments during the interview. There will be plenty of time afterwards to turn your notes into badges and pathways.

Using the badge types

Over the course of our interviews a few badge “types” or groupings have emerged. The groupings are used during the interview process to make sure we don’t miss any important details. Before you begin interviewing, going through the list of the badge types may help your interviewee tell their story and will make the interviewers job of identifying “badgeable moments” easier.

  • Jobs/Volunteering - Badges for doing specific job or volunteering
  • Interest/Project/Hobby - Badges that identify an interest, a project, or a hobby
  • Group/Affiliation - Badges for activities done in a group or identifying affiliation with a group
  • Events - Badges for attending or participating in events or traveling
  • Attribute/Habits - Badges that define character traits or attitudes
  • Awards/Honors/Titles - Badges that identify a certification, an award, or a title
  • Skill/Knowledge - Badges that represent a skill or possession of knowledge

Don’t be content working only in the past tense. When an interview ends always ask them “what’s next?” This will make them think about their goals and give you an idea of the trajectory of their pathway.

Using the pathway types

Stories have a shape and as you listen to someone’s pathway story you should be able to fit them into one of, or a combination of, our pathway types. These pathway types, just like the badge types, have changed during the course of the project. You don’t have to identify the pathway type during the interview but if you are able to, it can help you guide the conversation.

  • Linear - These pathways are the easiest to follow. They move sequentially through time. I try to identify natural stopping points to go back and ask for additional details.
  • Tiered - The tiers are often times the “natural stopping points” from the linear pathway. They are like chapters in a story (e.g. Middle school, High school, College, First job, Second job).
  • Freeform - Badges floating in space in no particular order. These are the hardest interviews to follow because interviewees just start listing badgeable moments. I try to push these interviews to at least follow a timeline.
  • Cluster - Clusters are a way to add some structure to freeform pathways. Think of a cluster as a way to add gravity to the freeform badges that float into space by grouping badges that share a type. For example someone saying “These are my leadership skills” or “This area is for communication skills”
  • Hybrid - A combination of some of the pathway types above. For example, interviewees in many of our early conversations listed jobs, projects, and skills in order (Linear and Tiered) then at the end listed attributes (Clusters). This lead to the creation of a new pathway type we call the RPG pathway because of it’s resemblance to role playing game interfaces.

image

Hands-on interviewing

It is time to break out the post-it notes! If you have the opportunity to do interviews in-person, paper prototyping pathways is a great way to capture a story. You will start by explaining badges and pathways. Then give the interviewee post-it notes, a marker, and a flat surface. During the prototyping sessions you can ask for additional information like having them draw connections between different badges or arrows to show prerequisites. These sessions are also great for asking things like “If you could leave the past version of yourself a message along this pathway what would it be” great for capturing mentoring moments.

I just want to end by saying that almost every person that I have interviewed for this project has begun our conversation with some variation of the phrase “Just so you know my pathway is pretty unique”. I have to say that so far they have all been right and that has been one of the biggest takeaways for me during this project. Every person has a great story, an important need, and some inspiring goals if we just take the time to listen and create tools that make their stories come to life.

Erin Knight | Truth in Tagline

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Mar 26 2014 13:58:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Read the original post here.

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When we decided to soft launch the Badge Alliance at the Summit to Reconnect Learning, my Communications Director had about 5 days notice to pull everything together. She did, of course, pull everything together as she always does, but there was definitely some throwing ‘good enough for now’ words up on a site at the last minute. As we are starting to more formally kick off some branding work, we went back to the tagline we used. While it might not be where we end up, there was and is a lot of truth in those words, and there are layers that really get to the heart of what we’re trying to do (and I suppose, what we’re now on the hook for doing!)


The Badge Alliance is “a network of organizations working together to build and advance an open badging ecosystem”

Let’s break that down a bit…

"The Badge Alliance is a network of organizations…"

The Badge Alliance is made up of organizations that want to work on these issues together, want badges to succeed, believe in a similar vision. These organizations (and in some cases, individuals) are volunteering to contribute to working groups, to roll up their sleeves and do the work necessary to move the badging work forward. They are the lifeblood of the Alliance, and of the ecosystem we are building.

After a relatively low profile soft launch, we already have close to 300 organizations that have not only expressed interest in the Badge Alliance, but have signed up to participate in at least one working group. In many cases, they have signed up for several. The initial response has blown me away and I am more convinced than ever that the Alliance is so important and timely.

"…working together…"

One of the reasons we have created the Badge Alliance is that this work is so much bigger than any individual organization. It’s going to take a village. It’s going to take an ecosystem. That means non-profits, tech providers, agencies, institutions, schools, corporations, foundations have a role to play. It’s only through connection and collaboration across these organizations and sectors, that we will make significant progress for learners and workers across their lifetimes.

As I mentioned before, we’re pretty serious about the collaboration part. So much so that the Badge Alliance is completely built around working groups. All of the work is/will be done through working groups. All of the key issues are tackled through working groups. Most of our job will be to facilitate, recruit for and shepherd working groups. Working groups, working groups, working groups! We’re all probably going to start getting so sick of hearing those words, we’ll have to make up some others. Constellations! Action teams! Etc. But for now, working groups.

It’s a super exciting approach with lots of potential. We’ve already got a really healthy mix of organizations that seem energized and ready to dig in. But its also a little scary. I’ve always been of the ‘if it needs doing, I’ll just do it" mentality, but now our role will to wrangle, recruit and ultimately rely on lots of different players to move the ball forward. Again, together is the only way we succeed. We’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying to create some guidelines and process to create a layer of accountability and confidence in working group outcomes, which we’ll share in the next week or so, but really these are working theories. This is going to be a constant work in progress, with payoffs so much bigger than any of us could accomplish on our own.

"…to build and advance…" (Or "…to build and grow…")

This is a pretty heavy piece. Building and advancing. What does that mean? Where do we start? What does success or advancement or sufficient growth look like? One deliverable that we are on the hook for, with our Steering Committee, is an initial definition of umbrella goals, strategy and metrics for the badge ecosystem, that we will then vet with the broader network. This will help to provide a larger context for all of your work, while also connecting work across the ecosystem, highlighting gaps or new opportunities to put some attention into and giving us all way to determine if we are winning.

But we don’t need that, and frankly, can’t wait for that to keep the momentum going. Each of you can probably list a few things that you think are needed to advance the broader badge work, or maybe even your own badge systems. Issues that need tackling, hurdles that are in the way, use cases you need to see, questions you need answered…I guarantee if you all did write them down, there would be a lot of overlap. And I can also guarantee that we’ve probably been talking about many of them since very early on. So let’s stop talking and dig in. That’s the purpose of a working group. Let’s pick one of these key issues and work together on it. Let’s set concrete goals and divide and conquer.

With our soft launch of the Badge Alliance, we tried to capture what to us felt like some of the most critical issues/topics through the initial working groups:

  • Open Badges Standard - shaping the evolution of the open standard for badges
  • Endorsement - how to build functionality and practice around third party endorsement of badges
  • Cities & Network-wide Badge Systems - how to support network level badging systems
  • Badges Messaging - how we talk consistently and effectively about badges to different audiences
  • Globalization, Localization & Badge the World - how to encourage and support badging in other countries and cultures
  • Web Literacy & Digital Literacy Badges - a shared badge system(s) for promoting and recognizing important digital skills
  • Badges for Admission to Higher Education - how to get badges into the admissions evaluation process
  • Recruiting Next Generation Workforce & Acceptance by Employers - linking badges to jobs, internships, career advancement and other opportunities
  • Badges for Educators & Professional Development - granularrecognition for teachers and educators

This initial set of working groups isn’t comprehensive, of course, but reflects where we and the broader community sense some the biggest urgency or heat. It’s a healthy mix of driving adoption on the issuing side, while also really starting to dig in on the ‘consumption’ or currency side of the ecosystem as well. We already have begun to identify a fast follow set of working groups that will most likely include things like research, validation (although this one is too big for one working group), K12/schools (also too big), pathways and privacy/data.

(you can still participate in these working groups - visit http://badgealliance.org to sign up. You can also suggest additional topics/working groups you think should be represented).

"…an open badging ecosystem…"

Oh you thought the last part was heavy? Wait for this one! :)

An open badging ecosystem. I could write several blog posts on the meaning/importance of that phrase, probably at least one post on each one of those words (the one on “an” would be a page turner ;)).

But while we *could* (and I am sure at some point *will*) get existential and philosophical, this doesn’t have to be that complex. If we agree that ultimately this is about recognizing and connecting learning of many (and of more) kinds across contexts and across lifetimes, and leveraging that recognition to better connect people to jobs, additional learning, personal growth, advancement, social connections and more, then there are some pretty obvious and important lines in the sand, but only a few. Two actually.

1) Badges must be interoperable. In this case, that means badges must align with the open standard, which is the ‘information model’ for badges.

2) Earners must own their badges and have control over where they are stored, how they are shared, etc.

That’s it really. If we all agree on those two points, then we have the makings for a healthy ecosystem. If badges are interoperable, then they are stackable, we can ensure we have enough information for making sense of them and we can always build tools and processes on top of them to better issue, manage, understand, etc. And if earners are in control, then badges cannot get ‘stuck’ in a silo and we can continually build in more connections and opportunities for that badge earner. The work doesn’t stop with these two ‘principles’, but these are the minimum required to ensure that the ecosystem can grow up around the badges in a way that places the learner at the center.

We haven’t gotten so far as to finalize a manifesto or formalize any requirements for membership, but I can’t imagine these two NOT being in there in some shape or form. We’ll be co-creating these types of things with our Steering Committee and Alliance members, so obviously much more to come here.

So…we didn’t do so bad with our first tagline. There’s a lot in here, maybe some of it is controversial. Certainly some of it I intend to dive into much more deeply in subsequent blog posts. But don’t wait for that - I’m definitely interested in getting feedback and hearing more from you on these somewhat rambling thoughts. Where do you agree? Where do you disagree? What are other working group priorities? What does open ecosystem mean to you? What other names for working groups should we use? :) This is a pretty critical juncture in the Badge Alliance and the overall work so now’s the time to weigh in!

And don’t forget, another way to get involved is to participate in one or more of the working groups. You can sign up on the site http://badgealliance.org

Much more soon.

-E

Jade Forester | Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes!

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Mar 26 2014 13:56:22 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Read the original post here.

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We knew that the soft launch of the Badge Alliance at February’s Summit to Reconnect Learning would bring some exciting new changes to the Open Badges team at Mozilla.

Since Erin Knight’s announcement at the Summit, the initial Badge Alliance working groups have been formed and members have been recruited from across numerous sectors and continents to focus community efforts on the key questions and issues facing the open badges ecosystem, working together to keep us moving forward. We anticipate the official launch of the Alliance in June 2014, and there will be plenty to keep us busy between now and then!

In addition to Erin’s transition from the Senior Director of Learning + Badges at Mozilla to Executive Director of the Badge Alliance, there are some other exciting changes we can share with you:
  • Megan Cole, our marketing rockstar at Mozilla Open Badges, is joining the Badge Alliance as Director of Marketing + Operations;
  • Carla Casilli, who led badge system design, research, and implementation on the Badges team, now acts as Director of Design + Practice at the Badge Alliance
  • As you may have guessed, I (Jade) will also be transitioning to the Alliance as the Social Media + Community Manager

As you might imagine, with these changes comes a lot of loose ends to gather and tie up before the Badge Alliance fully launches in June.

Megan and Carla have already joined Erin full-time at the Alliance and are doing a stellar job of helping the transition go smoothly as we hit the ground running with setting up the initial working groups and reaching out to potential partners and group members.

My new role, for now, won’t include too many changes. My day-to-day workload will stay the same for the next few months, leading the Open Badges community calls and filling the social media feeds, as well as helping to build the Badge Alliance community before the official launch.

On the Open Badges side, Product Lead Sunny Lee and Partnership + Policy Lead An-Me Chung will be stepping up to the plate to lead the Open Badges team moving forward, working closely with engineer extraordinaire Chris McAvoy and design guru Jess Klein to drive the product in future evolutions.

All these transitions and changes will progress throughout 2014 as we gear up to the Badge Alliance’s public launch this summer and the next phase of product roll-outs from Mozilla, including new features and functionality within BadgeKit, as well as the Discovery and Directory tools.

So stay tuned to our blogs and Twitter feeds as we solidify our new roles within both the Badge Alliance and the Open Badges team - there is lots more to come from all of us!

-Jade

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Individuals and organizations interested in joining the Badge Alliance and contributing to the efforts of the working groups can visit badgealliance.org

For questions about the Badge Alliance working groups, please email Megan directly at meg@badgealliance.org

For any questions about Mozilla Open Badges or related products, please email badges@mozillafoundation.org

We value kids’ engagement. How can we say so?

Nate Otto

Wed Mar 26 2014 01:00:05 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Alfie Kohn makes an argument today for recognizing children even when their attempts fall short (in the sense we use “recognizing” when talking about what we do with badges). He asks, “have you ever met a child who doesn’t regularly experience failure and frustration? I haven’t.” Haha! True, and consider your own story as well. How often is life punctuated by experiences of failure and frustration? And, more importantly, how do your experiences of failure fit in the story you tell yourself about yourself.

The stories we tell ourselves about our failures are part of an evolving learned response to those experiences.

He points to research showing the possibility that children who experience failure will begin to see that they might be failures. This has interesting effects. As part of protecting against that image, they might not try as hard to create in advance the possible excuse that they could have done much better if they had been trying, a potentially higher self-estimation.

Instead of the cultural demand to expect experiences with failure, why don’t we talk about trying to figure out how to ensure that kids’ failure experiences are constructive?

As people cope with failure, they might explain away the failure, and/or strategize about what to do in the future. More or less engagement with future challenges could result.

Kohn sees some activities that emphasize failure coming out of a cultural emphasis on introducing failure to children: “a game in which the point is to slam a ball at someone before he or she can get out of the way, or hand out zeroes to underscore a child’s academic failure, or demand that most young athletes go home without even a consolation prize (in order to impress upon them the difference between them and the winners)”

And the subtitle of the article is “The case for self-esteem, success, and even an occasional participation trophy”, which are examples of intervening “to relieve the pain.”

One of the final takeaway bites from Kohn is, “When kids’ performance slides, when they lose enthusiasm for what they’re doing, or when they try to cut corners, much more is going on than laziness or lack of motivation.” (Incidentally, this is much like a lot of the open badges community’s thoughts about those who dismiss badges as simply “stickers” or rewards, often referencing Kohn’s “Punished by Rewards”.)

For the badges research call this week, we might consider this kind of recognition from the perspective of badge system design. What kind of claim might we embed in a badge about these experiences, and what could a badge like that say about an earner that would also have value to that earner?

Carla has been talking about the “myth of the lightweight badge,” how the “accretion” of many badges can be analyzed on the meta level, in the aggregate to show deeper patterns about a user’s activity. Another thing I got from her post is that some badges that look insignificant to an issuer or any random outsider may actually have some stronger meaning to the earners that would lead them to keep and display the badges. This meaning may emerge when you see the whole pattern the user curated for you or read any annotations on a learning pathway that includes seemingly insignificant badges.

Small as they might be, participation badges (for example), do serve the purpose of transmitting the fact that we (culture) value the fact that risks were taken, challenges confronted. We value kids’ engagement. The claims that badges could make about various events considered “failures” are varied. Maybe the question to ask yourself when designing badges for “failure states” would be if you could see how that badge might be a useful component of a positive self-story about their engagement over time.

What did they learn? How can you tell (what assessment?)

Truth in Tagline

Erin Knight

Tue Mar 25 2014 14:28:15 GMT+0000 (UTC)

When we decided to soft launch the Badge Alliance at the Summit to Reconnect Learning, my Communications Director had about 5 days notice to pull everything together. She did, of course, pull everything together as she always does, but there was definitely some throwing ‘good enough for now’ words up on a site at the last minute. As we are starting to more formally kick off some branding work, we went back to the tagline we used. While it might not be where we end up, there was and is a lot of truth in those words, and there are layers that really get to the heart of what we’re trying to do (and I suppose, what we’re now on the hook for doing!)

The Badge Alliance is “a network of organizations working together to build and advance an open badging ecosystem”

Let’s break that down a bit…

"The Badge Alliance is a network of organizations…"

The Badge Alliance is made up of organizations that want to work on these issues together, want badges to succeed, believe in a similar vision. These organizations (and in some cases, individuals) are volunteering to contribute to working groups, to roll up their sleeves and do the work necessary to move the badging work forward. They are the lifeblood of the Alliance, and of the ecosystem we are building.

After a relatively low profile soft launch, we already have close to 300 organizations that have not only expressed interest in the Badge Alliance, but have signed up to participate in at least one working group. In many cases, they have signed up for several. The initial response has blown me away and I am more convinced than ever that the Alliance is so important and timely.

"…working together…"

One of the reasons we have created the Badge Alliance is that this work is so much bigger than any individual organization. It’s going to take a village. It’s going to take an ecosystem. That means non-profits, tech providers, agencies, institutions, schools, corporations, foundations have a role to play. It’s only through connection and collaboration across these organizations and sectors, that we will make significant progress for learners and workers across their lifetimes.

As I mentioned before, we’re pretty serious about the collaboration part. So much so that the Badge Alliance is completely built around working groups. All of the work is/will be done through working groups. All of the key issues are tackled through working groups. Most of our job will be to facilitate, recruit for and shepherd working groups. Working groups, working groups, working groups! We’re all probably going to start getting so sick of hearing those words, we’ll have to make up some others. Constellations! Action teams! Etc. But for now, working groups.

It’s a super exciting approach with lots of potential. We’ve already got a really healthy mix of organizations that seem energized and ready to dig in. But its also a little scary. I’ve always been of the ‘if it needs doing, I’ll just do it" mentality, but now our role will to wrangle, recruit and ultimately rely on lots of different players to move the ball forward. Again, together is the only way we succeed. We’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying to create some guidelines and process to create a layer of accountability and confidence in working group outcomes, which we’ll share in the next week or so, but really these are working theories. This is going to be a constant work in progress, with payoffs so much bigger than any of us could accomplish on our own.

"…to build and advance…" (Or "…to build and grow…")

This is a pretty heavy piece. Building and advancing. What does that mean? Where do we start? What does success or advancement or sufficient growth look like? One deliverable that we are on the hook for, with our Steering Committee, is an initial definition of umbrella goals, strategy and metrics for the badge ecosystem, that we will then vet with the broader network. This will help to provide a larger context for all of your work, while also connecting work across the ecosystem, highlighting gaps or new opportunities to put some attention into and giving us all way to determine if we are winning.

But we don’t need that, and frankly, can’t wait for that to keep the momentum going. Each of you can probably list a few things that you think are needed to advance the broader badge work, or maybe even your own badge systems. Issues that need tackling, hurdles that are in the way, use cases you need to see, questions you need answered…I guarantee if you all did write them down, there would be a lot of overlap. And I can also guarantee that we’ve probably been talking about many of them since very early on. So let’s stop talking and dig in. That’s the purpose of a working group. Let’s pick one of these key issues and work together on it. Let’s set concrete goals and divide and conquer.

With our soft launch of the Badge Alliance, we tried to capture what to us felt like some of the most critical issues/topics through the initial working groups:

  • Open Badges Standard - shaping the evolution of the open standard for badges
  • Endorsement - how to build functionality and practice around third party endorsement of badges
  • Cities & Network-wide Badge Systems - how to support network level badging systems
  • Badges Messaging - how we talk consistently and effectively about badges to different audiences
  • Globalization, Localization & Badge the World - how to encourage and support badging in other countries and cultures
  • Web Literacy & Digital Literacy Badges - a shared badge system(s) for promoting and recognizing important digital skills
  • Badges for Admission to Higher Education - how to get badges into the admissions evaluation process
  • Recruiting Next Generation Workforce & Acceptance by Employers - linking badges to jobs, internships, career advancement and other opportunities
  • Badges for Educators & Professional Development - granularrecognition for teachers and educators

This initial set of working groups isn’t comprehensive, of course, but reflects where we and the broader community sense some the biggest urgency or heat. It’s a healthy mix of driving adoption on the issuing side, while also really starting to dig in on the ‘consumption’ or currency side of the ecosystem as well. We already have begun to identify a fast follow set of working groups that will most likely include things like research, validation (although this one is too big for one working group), K12/schools (also too big), pathways and privacy/data.

(you can still participate in these working groups - visit http://badgealliance.org to sign up. You can also suggest additional topics/working groups you think should be represented)

"…an open badging ecosystem…"

Oh you thought the last part was heavy? Wait for this one! :)

An open badging ecosystem. I could write several blog posts on the meaning/importance of that phrase, probably at least one post on each one of those words (the one on “an” would be a page turner ;)).

But while we *could* (and I am sure at some point *will*) get existential and philosophical, this doesn’t have to be that complex. If we agree that ultimately this is about recognizing and connecting learning of many (and of more) kinds across contexts and across lifetimes, and leveraging that recognition to better connect people to jobs, additional learning, personal growth, advancement, social connections and more, then there are some pretty obvious and important lines in the sand, but only a few. Two actually.

1) Badges must be interoperable. In this case, that means badges must align with the open standard, which is the ‘information model’ for badges.

2) Earners must own their badges and have control over where they are stored, how they are shared, etc.

That’s it really. If we all agree on those two points, then we have the makings for a healthy ecosystem. If badges are interoperable, then they are stackable, we can ensure we have enough information for making sense of them and we can always build tools and processes on top of them to better issue, manage, understand, etc. And if earners are in control, then badges cannot get ‘stuck’ in a silo and we can continually build in more connections and opportunities for that badge earner. The work doesn’t stop with these two ‘principles’, but these are the minimum required to ensure that the ecosystem can grow up around the badges in a way that places the learner at the center.

We haven’t gotten so far as to finalize a manifesto or formalize any requirements for membership, but I can’t imagine these two NOT being in there in some shape or form. We’ll be co-creating these types of things with our Steering Committee and Alliance members, so obviously much more to come here.

So…we didn’t do so bad with our first tagline. There’s a lot in here, maybe some of it is controversial. Certainly some of it I intend to dive into much more deeply in subsequent blog posts. But don’t wait for that - I’m definitely interested in getting feedback and hearing more from you on these somewhat rambling thoughts. Where do you agree? Where do you disagree? What are other working group priorities? What does open ecosystem mean to you? What other names for working groups should we use? :) This is a pretty critical juncture in the Badge Alliance and the overall work so now’s the time to weigh in!

And don’t forget, another way to get involved is to participate in one or more of the working groups. You can sign up on the site http://badgealliance.org

Much more soon.

-E

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [32]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Mar 21 2014 18:03:01 GMT+0000 (UTC)

All right, folks, let’s get you ready for the weekend - because we all know you can’t start your weekend without your roundup of what we’ve been up to with badges!

This week’s Open Badges calls were spectacular! Chloe Varelidi led the Research & Badge System Design Call in a discussion of gamification, game design principles, play, and badges - you can check out a summary and listen to the audio here.

On this week’s Community Call, Mark Otter and Julie Keane joined us to walk us through the global ready education program using badges within VIF International Education. They went into great detail about how they developed their program on the call - you can check out a summary and listen to the audio here.

Here’s the rest of this week’s badge action:

  • Parchment announced they are adding $10m to expand their digital credentialing platform
  • Deeper Learning MOOC badges are here!
  • Soozy Miller at Bright Hub asked the question of whether badges will become the standard for displaying credentials

We also held our final BadgeKit Training Sessions - if you missed them, don’t worry! They can be found on the Open Badges YouTube Channel, and future sessions will be held as we roll out more features throughout 2014.

A million high fives to the team for hosting these sessions!!

Have a good one, you guys.

See you next week!

Open Badges Community Call, March 19, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Mar 20 2014 20:05:46 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Call, March 19, 2014:

Speakers:

Agenda: http://bit.ly/CCMarch19

VIF International Education, the leading provider of global education programs for K-12 schools, launched their badge system in December 2013. The VIF learning center, a social learning platform featuring the Global Gateway professional development (PD) system for educators, makes it possible for teachers anywhere in the world to earn digital badges as they  learn to effectively integrate global project-based inquiry into their core instruction.

Badges for Global Educators

VIF is in its 27th year, and has served roughly 11,000 teachers from over 75 countries, as well as running approximately 50 dual-language immersion schools in North Carolina - one of three states VIF operates in within the US (the others are South Carolina and Virginia.) There are around 20,000 teachers within the Global Gateway system.

VIF developed what they call ‘global indicators' - things every student should know to become 'globally competent' - which were built collaboratively with participating teachers and reflected similar global competence indicators developed by EdSteps. From these indicators, VIF developed Global Gateway, a professional development and digital curriculum program for teachers of global competence.

In the coming months, VIF will be re-launching as a ‘designation network’ that will distinguish global teachers, school, and districts as teaching global awareness and competence. They currently are using the Global Gateway program within 25 districts, serving 250 global schools and 10,000 teachers.

VIF Learn is the social community component of the global learning program developed by VIF, and is comprised of three elements:

  • Social community (think Facebook) where teachers build profiles and can view an activity feed. They can also join open or closed groups with other teachers
  • Resource Library of VIF and teacher-created lessons and units (including both immersion-school curricula and global standards-based curricula)
  • Badges that can be earned through the creation and deployment of global learning lessons and portfolios of student work

Teachers within the VIF Learn program complete four modules of professional development per year, following a project-based inquiry (PBI) framework - see an example PBI toolkit for teachers. Teachers create lessons based on the global indicators, and then reflect, revise, and give/receive feedback on these lesson plans. When a teacher attaches evidence of implementation in classroom (usually student work products) the lesson plans can then be published into the searchable resource library as remixable templates for others, and also provide the evidence component of a badge for the teacher who created the original lesson.

Global Ready Designation

Within the Global Schools Network, VIF has broken down the global readiness indicators into four tiers (developing, proficient, accomplished, and distinguished) to mark the progress of teachers, schools and districts as they develop curricula. These ‘Global Ready Designation’ tiers reflect the  teachers’ development in three key areas: pedagogy, technology content, and knowledge & skills.

This image outlines what ‘Global Ready Designation’ involves:

Next Steps

The peer-review element of the VIF program is something Julie and Mark are hoping to build out in future iterations, and is something Julie is particularly excited to expand, working closely with officials at the state level to review teachers’ lessons “and develop the criteria necessary for state designation” as well as VIF designation.

The VIF program is so exciting because they are working within existing teaching frameworks in ways that innovate and push teachers and schools to prepare students for the modern, digital, globalized world. Julie eloquently captured the power of badges within a platform such as VIF Learn: Badges can reflect alternative learning pathways for teachers as well as work within existing structures.

  • To read the full discussion, check out the call notes.
  • To view Mark and Julie’s slides, click here.

Next week:

Join us next week, when we will talk about badge ecosystem growth and support with Barry Joseph, who wrote this great blog post on the subject of the strengths of, and his concerns about, badges - and where the ecosystem needs to be stronger. Get your thinking caps on for this one!

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, March 19, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Mar 20 2014 19:25:58 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, March 19, 2014:

Agenda: http://bit.ly/CCMarch19

Speaker: Chloe Varelidi

This week, our resident game design superstar and spokeswoman for playful design, Chloe Varelidi, led the group in a conversation around gamification and play, the principles of game design, and how badges fit into all of the above.

What is a game?

Chloe dared the group to define a game - and as a system, what parts combine to make up a game. Brett Bixler wrote a blog post exploring this question, in which he also defined educational games as a subset within the broader scope of what a game is. Educational games are, according to Bixler, designed for learning with a mix of educational content, fun, and learning principles.

Below are some of the answers the group compiled. A game is/has:

  • …a system composed of players, makers, audiences, rules, and environment.
  • …not always fun in the classic sense.
  • …a challenge + a set of rules within a non-threatening (or fail-friendly) environment (of people, places, resources) with the promise of reward or pleasure
  • …a combination of skill and luck
  • …made up of rules + small goals leading to a larger goal;
  • …a competition (with yourself and/or others)
  • …sometimes be as simple as a daily to-do list
  • …a low risk of failure
  • …above all, intrinsically motivating for the participant - bad games fail at intrinsically motivating participants

How can badges be part of games?

Of course, we didn’t get very far into a discussion of achievements and progress within games without bring badges into the mix. The group discussed the various roles of badges in games, from marking progress and acting as milestones, to being rewards and recognition of accomplishments or completion of game activities.

According to the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology, there are different types of game players - according to Richard Bartle’s test, “a series of questions and an accompanying scoring formula that classifies players of multiplayer online games into categories based on their gaming preferences.” The four gamer types in Bartle’s test are: achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers. Some in the group argued that badges might appeal to achievers and socializers, a point that has been raised in previous conversations before. 

So this leads to the question of whether personality types affect our approach to games (and how) - and to what degree this affects our learning process, particularly when it comes to gamified learning experiences.

Gamification vs. game-based design?

Gamification as a term (and a concept) has gotten a lot of criticism, both within our community and in the broader learning networks we often hear from. Badges are often assumed to be necessarily about gamification, using badges as game-based motivators for achievements. While this certainly is one use for badges in game-based learning environments, many badge issuers and earners use badges as recognition of progress and feedback, rather than just as trophies to be collected.

Emily pointed out that language is very important - how we talk about these ideas can greatly affect how they are received and implemented.

Some argue that gamification as a term doesn’t feel as scholarly or rigorous, whereas a term like game-inspired feels more so. Another community member shared a telling anecdote: while applying for funding for an internal project in education, a proposal was shunned when the word gamification was used heavily. When the term was exchanged for the phrase engagement engine, the results were very different, and the application was much more warmly received.

Engagement was mentioned a number of times in this week’s discussion - as a better term for fun as well as for gamification. Within games, game-based learning, and badge systems for learning, continuous engagement is the goal - how this is achieved can vary according to the learners, the broader context and environment of the game / system, and the language we use to communicate the goals and components of the system.

To read the discussion in full, check out the call notes while listening to the audio.

Carla Casilli | The Myth of the Lightweight Badge

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Mar 20 2014 15:51:51 GMT+0000 (UTC)

This blog post from Carla generated a lot of discussion on- and offline: it was retweeted by many members of the community and discussed on this week’s Research & Badge System Design Call.

The ‘lightweight badge’ is something we are asked about a lot on the Open Badges team - many are concerned with so-called ‘worthless’ badges, often holding badges to higher standards than existing credentials. Carla does a great job of exploring these concerns and effectively arguing why all badges can hold value as part of an ongoing identity-building process alongside achievement recognition.

Go to Carla’s blog to read the comments there and post your own.

———————————————————

The development of the open badge ecosystem is at the heart of all of the work that I do. I am deeply invested in ensuring that the ecosystem grows and thrives. During the time I’ve been focused on this work, folks have repeatedly declared deep concern about badge rigor, usually expressed as an underlying fear of the ecosystem-imperiling power of the “lightweight” badge. I’d like for us as a community to investigate and dispel the myth of the meaningless, lightweight badge before it becomes ingrained into the ecosystem as an alleged truth.

First let’s begin by discussing badge types. Certainly there is a lot to be said about proposed and future badge typologies and I’m hoping that we can engage on them here at a later date. For now, though, let’s talk about the much maligned “participation” type badge. Participation badges are typically earned through a simple act of attendance. They usually have no associated criteria aside from physical or virtual attendance. Mozilla has issued MozFest Reveler badges for exactly this type of interaction. Considered by many in the badge community to be throwaway badges with little to no social meaning, in fact participation badges are markers and data points in the larger, more complex concept of self.

Am I who you say I am or am I who I say I am?
During the process of badge system development, implementation, or interpretation, certain types of badges like participation badges may appear to be devoid of much or any value. Let me say that again with emphasis: may appear to be so. They are not. All badges have some value. Badges layer upon each other: no badge is entirely independent of any other badge—at least not to the badge earner. Just as all badges operate in contextual ways, participation badges live alongside other badge types. They can and do interconnect in ways that may be far outside of their issuer’s original intent. This is one of an open badge’s best features—they act as connectors! Perhaps even better, all badges act as touchstones for the earners.

Value accretion
The concept of accretion will be readily understood by the scientists, accountants and financial thinkers among us. Here I’m using it to indicate the continued layering effect of badges being earned throughout a length of time. Earn a badge. Earn a badge. Earn three badges. Earn another badge. Accretion operates on a meta, ecosystem level as well as a smaller system wide level, and its power should not be underestimated. Why? Because the continued layering of earned badges from many different issuing organizations and experiences—the accretion—means that value arises in unexpected and emergent ways.

The multiplication factor
For example, while it may be possible to know how one badge is perceived by its earner in its original context, it is not possible to estimate how three badges from three different organizations may be perceived by an earner. Consequently, that “lightweight” badge that Josefina earned while attending The Museum of Natural History during a class trip may become a connector to an online natural sciences webinar may become a connector to a robotics class held at the local library. Combined, these “lightweight” badges begin to highlight potential pathways and future area of interest.

Weak signals, strong network effects
Interest-driven participation badges communicate in subtler ways than skill or competency badges do but they are sending signals to the earner as well as the larger social structure. They act as windows into alternate interpretations of self. Not only do they work to represent past experiences but also possible future selves. They accumulate and in their accumulation they tell different stories to both the earner as well as the public.

So, the next time you hear someone note a concern about “lightweight” or meaningless badges, think about Tennyson’s “Ulysses” quote below. Ask yourself if you’re not the composite of everything that you have experienced, large and small.

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.

Et voilà. The myth of lightweight badges is dispelled.

More soon.

references
Tennyson, Alfred Lord. (n.d.) Ulysses. Retrieved from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174659

A foundational badge system design

Carla Casilli

Mon Mar 17 2014 17:06:37 GMT+0000 (UTC)

The last two years or so have found me investigating and contemplating many different types of badge systems. Along the way I’ve been wrestling with considerations of badge types, potential taxonomies, and conceptual approaches; feeling my way around a variety of assessment types including summative, formative and transformative. Working in badge system design rewards a person with a continuing sense of adventure and opportunity.

A badge system structure for many
After much thought and many contemplative examinations, I’ve developed an archetypal badge system structure that I’m happy to recommend to the open badges community. Here are the many reasons why I think you’ll want to implement it.

  1. It’s simple.
  2. It’s modular.
  3. It’s easy to implement.
  4. It encourages a range of creativity.
  5. It works for organizations of vastly different sizes.
  6. It accomplishes the difficult task of working from bottom up, top-down, and middle out.
  7. It not only allows for growth, it thrives on it.

Introducing the 3 Part Badge System
This badge structure is the one that I developed for the Mozilla badge system that we are in the process of building. I’m calling it the 3 Part Badge System (3PBS). It’s composed of three interlocking parts and those three parts create a flexible structure that ensures feedback loops and allows the system to grow and evolve. Or breathe. And by breathe, I mean it allows the system to flex and bow as badges are added to it.

While some community member organizations have expressed a desire for a strict, locked-down, top-down badge system to—in their words—guarantee rigor (and you already know my thoughts on this), this system supports that request but is also designed to include active participation and badge creation from the bottom up. I’d say it’s the best of both worlds but then I’d be leaving out the middle-out capacity of this system. So in reality, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

This approach is a vote for interculturalism—or the intermingling and appreciation of cultures—in badge systems. Its strength arises from the continuous periodic review of all of the badges, in particular the team / product badges as well as the individual / community badges.

Don’t tell me, show me
It’s easier to talk about this system with some visuals so I’ve designed some to help explain it. Here is the basic 3 part structure: Part 1) company / organization badges; Part 2) team / product badges; and Part 3) individual / community badges. This approach avoids a monocultural hegemony.

Carla Casilli's 3 part badge system design

The basic components of the 3 Part Badge System

Part 1: Company / organization badges
Many companies and organizations have specific needs and concerns about branding. This system addresses those concerns directly. In this proposed system, an advisory group defines, creates, and governs the highest level of badges—the company / organization badges—providing control over the all-important corporate or academic brand. While not all systems have a need for such strict brand maintenance requirements, this approach allows for conceptual levels of badges to be created while interacting in organic and meaningful ways with other types of badges. An advisory group creates and vets these badges based on the organization’s foundational principles and values. The company/organization badges transmit the most important values of an institution and they address organizational concerns regarding brand value and perceived rigor.

Part 2: Team / product badges
Few organizations exist that do not have some middle layer accomplishing the bulk of the work of the organization; the 3PBS proposal recognizes the team / product groups as necessary and important partners. In addition to acknowledging the contributions of this collection of folks, 3PBS engenders them with the ability to respond to their public through badges. Different teams and products groups can clearly and unequivocally communicate their closely held qualities and values through the creation and issuance of their own badges. These badges are created entirely independently of the Part 1 company / organization badges. In a bit we’ll discuss how the team / product badges play a role in influencing other aspects of the 3PBS.

Part 3: Individual / community badges
So your organization is comprised only of management and teams? Of course not. The 3PBS honors the folks who are on the front lines of any organization—the community—by empowering them to define their values internally as well as externally. These badges operate outside the requirements that define the Company/organization badges and the Team/product badges. The community badges can be created by anyone within the community and do not hew to the visual requirements of the other two subsystems. What this means is that an individual or community can create any types of badges they like. In other words, it provides the ability to publicly participate—to have a voice—in the system.

How the three different parts influence one another in the 3 Part Badge System
How do these parts interact? In order to communicate how these subsystems can affect each other, I’ve created some color based graphics. You’ve already seen the first one above that describes the initial system.

But first a little basic color theory to ground our understanding of how these subsystems work together to create a dynamic and powerful system. The basic 3 part structure graphic above uses what are known as primary colors, from the Red, Yellow, Blue color model. Centuries of art are based on these three colors in this color model. The following graphics further explore the RYB color model and move us into the world of secondary colors. Secondary colors result from the mixing of two primary colors: mixing red and yellow results in orange; mixing yellow and blue results in green; mixing blue and red results in purple. Now that we’ve established how the color theory used here works, we can see how the parts represented by these colors  indicate intermixing and integration of badges.

Individual / community badges influence team / product badges
The 3PBS concept relies on badge development occurring at the individual and community level. By permitting and even encouraging community and individual level badging, the system can will continuously reform itself, adjusting badges upward in importance in the system. That’s not to say that any part of this system is superior to another, merely that these parts operate in different ways to different audiences. As I wrote in my last post, meaning is highly subjective and context-specific.

individual / community badges influencing team / product badges

Individual / community badges influencing the team / product badges in 3PBS

This graphic illustrates the team / product created and owned badges assimilating some badges from the individual / community created and owned badges. The graphic also indicates that the company / organization badges can be held separate from this influence—if so desired.

Periodic review by the team / product groups of the individual and community badges likely will reveal patterns of use and creation. These patterns are important data points worth examining closely. Through them the larger community reveals its values and aspirations. Consequently, a team or product group may choose to integrate certain individual / community badges into their own badge offerings. In this way a badge begins to operate as a recognized form of social currency, albeit a more specific or formalized currency. The result of this influencing nature? The team and product group badge subsystem refreshes itself by assimilating new areas of interest pulled directly from the larger, more comprehensive and possibly external community.

Team / product badges badges influence company / organization badges
Company and organization level badges operate in precisely the same way, although the advisory group who is responsible for this level of badge can look across both the team / product badges as well as the individual / community badges. That experience will look something like this in practice.

teamprodtransformcompany

Team / product badges influencing company / organization badges in 3PBS

Periodic review of the team / product badges by the advisory group responsible for company and organization badges may reveal duplicates as well as patterns. Discussion between the advisory group and the teams responsible for those badges may indicate that a single standard badge is appropriate. Considering that teams and product group badges are created independently by those groups, apparent duplication among teams may not necessarily be a bad thing: context is all important in the development and earning of badges. That said, examination and hybridization of some badges from the team and product groups may create a stronger, more coherent set of company and organization level badges.

Individual / community badges influence company / organization badges
In addition to being able to examine and consider team and product level badges, the advisory group responsible for the company / organization badges can also find direct inspiration from individual and community created badges. Since there are few to no rules that govern the creation of the individual / community created and owned badges, insightful, dramatic, and wildly creative badges can occur at this level. Because they come through entirely unfiltered, those sorts of badges are precisely the type to encourage rethinking of the entirety of the 3PBS.

indcommtransformcompany

Individual / community badges influencing company / organization badges in 3PBS

Here we see how the individual / community created and owned badges can significantly color the company / organization badges. Since the company / organization badges communicate universal values, it’s vital that those values remain valid and meaningful. Incorporating fresh thinking arising from individual and community badges can help to ensure that remains true.

Three parts, one whole
So, if we loop back to the original system, prior to the (color) interactions of one part to another, we can see how each part might ultimately influence one another. This is the big picture to share with interested parties who are curious as to how this might work.

The 3PBS model with different types of influence.

The 3PBS model with different types of influence.

So, that’s the 3 Part Badge System in a nutshell. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

—-

Much more soon. carla [at] badgealliance [dot] org


Tagged: badge system design, badge systems, community, complex adaptive system, mozilla, openbadges, system design

[soft drumroll]...aaaaand BadgeKit private beta coming right up!

Sunny Lee

Thu Mar 06 2014 18:59:18 GMT+0000 (UTC)

We’ve talked a ton about BadgeKit over the past few months from its initial announcement back in October at Mozfest to BadgeKit MVP defining, tech defining, user experience design, to more recently BadgeKit for Cities

Many of these posts pointed to BadgeKit being made available at the Digital Media & Learning conference, this year taking place in Boston from March 6 through 8. 

And we’re finally here! We will be making BadgeKit available to organizations interested in issuing open badges. As previously mentioned, this initial release of BadgeKit targets organizations, like cities, who want to stand up larger-scale badge systems. This was a natural evolution of the work we did for Chicago Summer of Learning last year and the tools we developed to support that initiative such as Badge Studio (badge design tool), Open Badger (badge defining and issuing tool) and Aestimia (badge application and assessment tool). 

So what will this initial release of BadgeKit entail for issuing organizations?


* Enable access control

The issuing organization can create an uber admin login and from there grant some level of access control like who gets to issue a badge and who gets to assess/review a badge. We are thinking about adding more granularity down the road with ongoing user feedback and issuer requests. 

* Design a badge


The issuing organization can get started on designing and defining their badges. BadgeKit will support the full badge life cycle states from draft form, published to archived. The badge design and defining experience will be scaffolded through the introduction of templates. An example of templatizing badges can be found in the badges designed and issued as part of Chicago Summer of Learning. These badges all shared a hexagonal shape and a Chicago city banner that hung across it. 



This is an example of templates used to create consistent badge design but they can also be used for content creation. Some badges that are part of the same program may share similar information, like issuing organization name, program name, including elements of criteria. Rather than the issuing organization having to rewrite this information with each new badge, templates can help build on templatized content. We think templates can greatly help streamline the badge creation process for organizations. 

* Create badges that level up

Not only that, issuing organizations can build in leveling up features into their badge system. We are calling these milestone badges. An issuer can define the set of badges that together unlock a larger badge, which we are calling a milestone badge. 

* Issue a badge via email

The issuing organization will be able to issue a badge using the earner’s email. However, as perviously mentioned, BadgeKit is intended to be a backend admin support for issuing orgs who have existing sites where their communities reside. When a badge is issued to an earner via email on BadgeKit, this information is relayed to the issuing org’s application for the issuing org to determine how the badge will actually be delivered, whether via email, SMS or message in a bottle. Badge issuing via email is supported through the BadgeKit API with the issuer, customizing specific experiences according to their community needs and desires. 

* Display a badge on Issuer site via BadgeKit API

The issuing organization will be able to pull all the badges they have designed and created on BadgeKit onto their own website through an API and customize the badge interaction experience for their community of badge earners. 

* Support earners to apply for a badge on issuer site via BadgeKit API

When an earner is on the issuer site and comes across a badge that she would like to earn and can apply for online, she can do so. The earner, or prospective earner in this case, can click through and see the badge criteria and apply for the badge by submitting relevant information and evidence. This experience is supported by the BadgeKit API. 

* Assess a badge 

Once the prospective earner has submitted all relevant information on the issuer site, that badge application becomes accessible on the badgekit.org site to badge assessors/reviewers who have been granted the appropriate access controls from the issuing organization. Assessors/reviewers can then see the queue of badge applications and start evaluating them based on pre-defined criteria and/or rubrics. They can provide feedback and determine whether to issue or deny the earner of the badge. As mentioned in bullet 4, the earner experience of the actual delivery of the badge is defined by the issuer. 

* Support earners to send their earned badges to federated backpacks

n.b. Federated backpack feature will come later this month

Because BadgeKit is integrated with the open badges standard and APIs, the earner has the opportunity to send their earned badges to federated backpacks where they can decide how they want to further share it out to various social media channels. 

*

In addition to all this, it’s worth noting the brand definition work that our designers took on. We have a nice streamlined BadgeKit logo that is cohesive with the parent brand of Open Badges as well as Mozilla. This work was led by our designer Adil Kim with the guidance of our Creative Lead, Jess Klein who has written about this in greater detail in her blogpost: http://jessicaklein.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-designing-badgekit.html


We’ve made a lot of progress in the past few months but we still have a lot of work to do. As you can see, this initial release is focused on issuing organizations who have some level of technical resources and have an existing community-facing site into which they can integrate their badge system. Thereby it seemed appropriate to call this release private beta.

However, the goal is to make this more widely accessible in subsequent releases. As you well know, we develop and design in the open so all our code, sketches, wireframes and staging information are in fact out there for anyone to keep an eye on and poke holes at.

We’re excited to have reached this major milestone and look forward to feedback from issuing organizations who start to plug in!

n.b. We realize there may be a bunch of questions so we’ve put together some FAQs so take a look! http://badgekit.org/help Thanks to you all and as per yooszh, more to come!

The Roadshow continues: 3 conferences, 1 week, 1 BadgeKit release, 1 Discovery prototype showcase, WE GOT THIS!

Sunny Lee

Thu Mar 06 2014 16:27:01 GMT+0000 (UTC)

This has been a crazy week for the open badges team. 

Amongst our team members, we are covering 3 conferences: ATP Innovations in Testing, SXSWEdu and the Digital Media and Learning conference

This includes 3 panel discussions, 1 interactive talk and presentation, 1 ignite talk, 2 Science Fair booths preparation, not to mention 1 BadgeKit private beta release and 1 Discovery prototype showcase. 

WE CAN DO THIS!


I wrote this while I was on a plane with colleagues Meg from the Badges team, Matt Williams from SF Hive and Dustin from Sprout Fund. We had departed an unseasonably frigid Austin, having survived SXSWEdu, and were headed to an even more frigid Boston for DML. 

So where are we at this midway-ish point in the week?

  • I think we’re pretty good to go with BadgeKit Private Beta release. More to come on that through several of our channels. 
  • We’re excited to showcase the Discovery prototype at DML and to get feedback from conference attendees. 
  • We have 1 panel at ATP, 2 panels at SXSWEdu under our belt now and have 1 more SXSWEdu panel, 1 ignite talk at DML and 2 Science Fair booths to go. 


Reflections on the panels and sessions so far:

I couldn’t help but notice that the badges and digital credentialing conversation has come a long way. The ATP Innovations in Testing has not been a conference we had participated in the past. It is attended by the well-known guardians of high stakes testing, assessment and accreditation like Pearson, ACT, ETS etc. I popped into a couple sessions and was surprised to see the level of interest around digital credentialing and also its increasing relevance. On the actual panel that I had the honor of being a part of, it was clear that the badges conversation had expanded beyond the esoteric and was reaching a broader audience.

*** A session at ATP Innovations in Testing about the Changing Landscape of Recruiting in Industries, mentioned Digital Credentialing and Mozilla Open Badges. 

I would say the questions fielded and the level of interest and enthusiasm shown at our SXSWEdu sessions would corroborate that. 

A lot of work remains, both in the near term (this week) and longer term (getting wider adoption of open badges as complementary digital credentialing). While extremely tired right this moment, I’m also still pretty excited and looking forward to all the adventures ahead. 


Templates make Open Badges even more open

Matthew Willse

Thu Mar 06 2014 07:15:13 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Mozilla’s BadgeKit introduces the idea of Badge Templates, making Open Badges even a little more open. Templates will help us make related badges more easily. They can also enable you to share your ideas and methods with other people and organizations who make badges. Badges are better when they’re Open Badges. Badge making in the […]