What If People Make Bad Badges? P2PU’s Plan of Action.

Our Executive Director Philipp Schmidt issued a call to action in his post “Let’s Make Badges Not Stink.” But, inevitably some badges will stink. Perhaps even on our platform–we’re creating a “Badge Issuer” that will encourage anyone to create a badge for their P2PU course.

So how can the P2PU brand, voice, tone and core values coexist with user-generated content (UGC)? It’s a question for the digital ages.

Here P2PU has something to learn from the discipline of Content Strategy, which is an approach to planning and maintaining web content. Earlier this summer, I consulted rockstar Content Strategist Erin Kissane on how to think about this issue. We discussed the following 2 paths:

  • Recognize folks who do it well. For instance, we love recent badges from Mick Fuzz and Leah Macvie. We need to elevate good badges to a status that people want, encouraging them to be thoughtful. Perhaps a badges Hall of Fame is in our future?
  • Give users the tools to make good badges. We’ll prompt folks with templates and suggestions. Verifyapp, an online user-testing service, provides sample questions that they have found to be very reliable, which helps their users get solid results from their tests.
    We can also include access to our voice and tone guidelines, reminding users about the character of P2PU.

Some things that I’ve also been considering on this issue:

  • Provide help content in context. Airbnb is a good example of help content expertly placed when people need it–users don’t have to go sleuthing for FAQs, and create a better result on their first attempt. Total win. Notice how they direct the user on the importance of a first video, below:Here we will also feature suggestions from our Theory of Learning and how our core values work at P2PU.
  • Customer education. Mailchimp has countless educational resources–they are both slickly-designed and engaging. We probably can’t out-slick them, but we can do our darndest 🙂 We already have our Create a Course resource, but perhaps a tour of P2PU upon sign-up would be just the ticket.
  • Encourage folks to use badges for real-life applications. For instance, would you hire people who had this badge? What badges would you want them to have to show their areas of interest or competencies? These questions help suss out what are core skills and what is fluff.

But in an open ecosystem, we will encourage users to create any kind of badge they want. Even tacky badges. Or badges that don’t represent our perspective on learning.

Blasphemy? Nay.

We offer our users the freedom to experiment.  This is a lab, with the latitude to try what you think will work. At the same time, we’ll be examining what folks do with the badge-issuing platform, and learning from how they use it.

However, we will differentiate the badges that do reflect our perspective. While all badges issued by P2PU will have the p2pu.org URL in the Badge Backpack, only the ones that have received consultation from the P2PU team & community will feature P2PU branding.

That’s the plan for now. How will you work to create robust, reliable badges?

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