Reflections on “Badges: Peril or Possibility”

Yesterday was rich with conversations about badges. Early in the day HASTAC and Mozilla hosted a webinar with Judd Antin, a User Experience Researcher from Facebook, on the Social Psychology of Badges. Later in the evening, I was fortunate to be part of a conversation about assessment hosted by P2PU Community Member Paul Allison for Connected Educator Month. Paul’s been working on fleshing out a curriculum for Youth Voices on P2PU, and I was eager to hear how the conversation about badges is evolving.

Takeaways from the conversation:

  • Dave Cormier brought up some interesting points about badges and power–specifically that badges prescribe & require certain behaviors. If you know you’re being measured on cheery demeanor, number of satisfied customer requests, etc. that may prescribe your behavior. Who dictates what is assessed? That is something to consider in this power dynamic.
  • A potential solution to me is flexible, participatory assessment. What does that mean? It means that community members can iterate upon and adapt the assessment. That way, the values of the community are what is assessed.
  • Are badges too general and clumsy? We need to make the feedback learners get incremental and live.  Reliable assessment will identify more granular and precise skills.
  • Negative feedback remains a thorny issue in this conversation. Because badges usually refer to positive traits only, how do we integrate negative feedback? Should negative badges exist?
  • Are badges an innovation? was a question that came up over and again. I’d like to think that badges and innovative pedagogy are a good pair, and can go hand-in-hand. Badges lend themselves to evidence-based assessments, projects and authentic learning. They may even prompt a curriculum change in this direction, which I think is a good thing.
  • An interesting question that came up during the Mozilla/HASTAC conversation was about the longevity of badges. This has come up in our conversations at P2PU–how to design badges that are both evolving and classic, badges that will still have meaning 5 years from now.
  • Watch our Google Hangout:

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