Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials

Blackboard, Student Achievements, and #OpenBadges

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsAs many of you will have heard, either from the tweets or Blackboard notices, there is building block for Blackboard that allows you to assign and issue badges of achievements to students which they can copy to their Mozilla Back Pack.

I think there still needs to be some proper consideration on what the badge is being issued for: the video below states the badges are issued based on “specific student performance metrics” (don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of badges and some gamification of learning, but it needs to be an appropriate badge for an appropriate activity) such as:

  • a section of a course … possibly using the ‘mark as reviewed’ status? This is not meaningful as the students can just mark everything as reviewed and get the badge (I’ve done it before).
  • complete assignments … why give a badge for this? if they complete the assignment they get a mark and progress to the next module (would a student want to show a badge for a B grade when their friends are showing A’s)?

I would argue that a badge issued to a student who shows a skill learned, not a score or grade given, is more meaningful: e.g. debating skill, team or group management, individual goal attainment, etc. The badges could be carefully aligned to skills and metrics that are as much about the learning and subject as about the professional nature of the course – something the student can use to demonstrate a skill and understanding, something that an employer or interviewer would want to see from an applicant? That would make it more valuable to the student, and increase the importance of the badge.

There are more to badges in learning than just being able to show that the student passed an assignment or activity. What do you think?

YouTube: Blackboard Learn – Achievements

  • Emma Cragg

    Another interesting post, thanks David.

    I’ve also just read this on the post-course era – http://www.edugeekjournal.com/2013/07/25/heading-towards-a-post-course-era/ – it asks the question:

    “What if we could see inquiry, participation, social connections, and reflection become that central unit?”

    Perhaps a move towards that is to issue badges for these kinds of activity? I’m working a lot on discussion boards at the minute and trying to increase engagement from students – perhaps badges are the way forward here too.

    • http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/ David Hopkins

      Hi Emma – Thanks for this and the link, I’ll read that later ;-)

      Perfect example of where badges would add value to the learning / engagement activity and where the skill, not knowledge, is demonstrated (after all, the learning is assessed as part of the course).

      A badge for simple participation would work but not be of value, but to place some constraints on the issuing of the badge based on critical analysis, engagement, reflection, etc. could be of use for Discussion Forum activities? Food for thought, thanks.

      All the best, David

  • Andy81

    Standard part of Moodle 2.5, looks like a really good way to work with student professional portfolios especially with Clinic students, being able to accredit skills shown in the more informal learning environment

    • http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/ David Hopkins

      Hi Andy – Indeed, it is more (for me) about the skills learned and capability to demonstrate them than the actual subject knowledge .. anyway, the subject knowledge is tested and assessed by way of the module/unit assignment, which rarely give students the opportunity to demonstrate skills beyond research and/or writing.

      Perhaps badges are more relevant to your kind of student, where lab or practical work can be easily aligned to a badge-orientated alignment, but with some minor modification to the assessment strategy in social science-esque assessments I think badges could be used, implemented, and of great beneficial use.

      All the best and speak soon, David

  • Wendy Taleo

    Hi David,
    Any experience in the Goals section of Blackboard Learn, implemented at the School level? How this could be linked to Achievements….

    • http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/ David Hopkins

      Hi Wendy. I Have not investigated this area of Bb, sorry in any great detail, and not in relation to badges. I can only imagine that it is fairly easy to set up (knowing what little I do about the open badges building block for Bb) and it probably works in a similar way to adaptive release on items based on performance in tests.

      Good luck, and please feed your investigations and results back?

      David