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Badges for Lifelong Learning
Supported by the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative
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re-mediating assessment: Digital Badges Meeting at the NSF Headquarters Hosted by NYSCI

Monday April 1st we travelled to the NSF headquarters in Arlington, VA. There, Michelle Riconscente and Margaret Honey from the New York Hall of Science hosted a meeting with an impressive list of attendees. STEM educators, members from after school programs, researchers, professors from all different disciplines (computer science, educational psychology, learning sciences) among others met to discuss the current and future research surrounding badges.Rebecca Itow, Cathy Tran, and I were invited to attend as members of the Badge Design Principles Documentation project and had been asked to serve as official note takers of the meeting. We ended up doing Dan Hickey’s presentation on the project and about digital badges research because Dan instead had to attend to a death in his family. Our presentation went over well and the audience was very interested in the initial set of design principles emerging across the 30 projects funded by the Gates/MacArthur Badges for Lifelong Learning initiativeAlong with discussions about the logistical concerns about the use badges such as how to manage these various systems (Erin Knight from Mozilla), on-the-ground depictions of badge systems (Alejandro Molina from the Providence After School Alliance, Marc Lesser from MOUSE, Inc, and Akili Lee from the DigitalYouth Network, just to name a few), and the potential for badges to optimize student learning (Barry Fishman). We candidly spoke about some concerns about badging such as “what is the life expectancy of a badge” (Avi Kaplan), and “what are some of the challenges and what are some of the insights as a result of this work?” (Michelle Riconscente).
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Understanding Motivation in Badge System Design

Understanding Motivation in Badge System Design | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

Following up on a DML webinar session from a few months ago led by guest speaker, Judd Antin, UEX research at Facebook, formerly with Yahoo Research, on the topic of motivation in online environments, we thought we’d distill his key points into how they inform designing a badge system. 

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Miss Philbin's Teaching and Learning Journal: Eportfolio and ICT Badges Reactions

Miss Philbin's Teaching and Learning Journal: Eportfolio and ICT Badges Reactions | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

Today I taught one of my classes how to use the eportfolio template I had made for them and explained that they could make the welcome page of their eportfolio their own by including facts about themselves and images. (See my last post if you have no idea what I'm talking about!)

They seemed to really enjoy decorating their own pages, but I was disappointed that some of the students didn't want to customise it more.

Then I presented the ICT class badges and the idea behind them. I was surprised by their reaction. They really seemed excited about collecting the badges by unlocking them like achievements. This would be either by completing units or by demonstrating a skill. They can then proudly display the badges on their site. There was hushed whispers about which badge they wanted to get first and a lot of "Oh yeah I want that one". This bodes well.

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Badges: The Skeptical Evangelist | A Thaumaturgical Compendium | Alex Halavais

Badges: The Skeptical Evangelist | A Thaumaturgical Compendium | Alex Halavais | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

Are there dangers inherent to the very idea of badges? I think there are. I’ve written a bit about them in a recent article on the genealogy of badges. But just as I can find Herb Schiller’s work on the role of computer technology in cultural hegemony compelling, but still entertain its emancipatory possibilities, I can acknowledge that badges have a long and unfortunate past, and still recognize in them a potential tool for disrupting the currently dominant patterns of assessment in institutionalized settings, and building bridges between informal and formal learning environments.

 
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» Games, Badges and Learning Valuable Games

» Games, Badges and Learning Valuable Games | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

David Theo Goldberg’s recent post, Badges for Learning: Threading the Needle Between Skepticism and Evangelism, is a worthwhile overview of the current thinking on what role “badges” might play in promoting better learning. He summarizes the debate within the learning sciences over badges as the age-old conflict between Kantianism and utilitarianism and tries to strike a middle ground

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Pretty Sure Badges Aren’t the Answer to Our Motivation Problem | Andrea Zellner

As I’ve outlined in this space before, I am somewhat of a badge skeptic. At first it was a general uneasiness, then I started thinking about motivational theory and what it might predict about the use of badges as they’ve been operationalized in various ways by the Khan Academy, among others. As I started thinking through motivational issues, I kept bumping up to the fact that both research and theory suggested that on the whole, there is a very real risk to intrinsic motivation when badges are used in learning.


Via Karen LaBonte
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'Digital Badges' Would Represent Students' Skill Acquisition

'Digital Badges' Would Represent Students' Skill Acquisition | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

MOUSE, which operates in 400 sites across the nation, has been experimenting with awarding digital badges for the past two years, says Lesser. So far, the organization has awarded more than 19,000 digital badges for a range of activities, including interacting with other students in MOUSE on its social-networking website; taking care of schools' IT tickets, or requests for technical help; completing workshops; and mastering technical skills such as networking or programming languages like HTML.

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re-mediating assessment: Open Badges and the Future of Assessment

re-mediating assessment: Open Badges and the Future of Assessment | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

As the competition unfolded, I followed the inevitable debate over the consequences of “extrinsic rewards” like badges on student motivation. Thanks in part to Daniel Pink’s widely read book Drive, many worried that badges would trivialize deep learning and leave learners with decreased intrinsic motivation to learn. The debate was played out nicely (and objectively) at the HASTAC blog via posts from Mitch Resnick and Cathy Davidson . I have been arguing in obscure academic journals for years that sociocultural views of learning call for an agnostic stance towards incentives. In particular I believe that the negative impact of rewards and competition says more about the lack of feedback and opportunity to improve in traditional classrooms. There is a brief summary of these issues in a chapter on sociocultural and situative theories of motivation that Education.com commissioned me to write a few years ago. One of the things I tried to do in that article and the other articles it references is show why rewards like badges are fundamentally problematic for constructionists like Mitch, and how newer situative theories of motivation promise to resolve that tension. One of the things that has been overlooked in the debate is that situative theories reveal the value of rewards without resorting to simplistic behaviorist theories of reinforcing and punishing desired behaviors.

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How to Earn Your Skeptic "Badge" | Henry Jenkins

How to Earn Your Skeptic "Badge" | Henry Jenkins | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

Experiment with badges but really experiment -- that is, try to figure out if these mechanisms really do what you hope they will do and be particularly attentive to the ways that they have unintentional consequences and damage the very activities you are seeking to recognize.

 

Also seed other kinds of research and experimentation which looks more closely at other mechanisms for promoting and appraising participation, including those which may already be in place within such communities of practice.

 

Be aware that the process of badging is going to make things more comfortable to those who are comfortable with getting recognition from adults and may make things less comfortable for those who have not yet fully bought into the values of the current educational system.

 

And above all, if you are embracing badges, make sure you are doing so because you agree with the core premises, because it's the right thing to do for your group, and not because someone is offering a bucket of money to those who are willing to "give it a try."

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Pinning the Badge - Indian Express

Pinning the Badge - Indian Express | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

The badge is not imagined as yet another kind of grading, but instead it is recognition of certain skills and competences that we bring to and build in classrooms with our peers. A badge allows the students to recognise their own investment in the learning process, enabling them to realise their particular skills on the way to learning. In any learning environment, students play many roles. Some are good as connectors, some serve as conduits of information, some are good in specific areas and need help with others, some are mentors, some are translators of knowledge, some help in creating new forms of knowledge. Unfortunately, most of our grading patterns refuse to acknowledge and credit these skills which are crucial for surviving the academic world. The ability of the students to badge themselves, and others in their peer groups, acknowledging their contributions to their collective learning, might be the motivation and encouragement that we are looking for.

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Still a Badge Skeptic | Mitch Resnick via HASTAC.org

Still a Badge Skeptic | Mitch Resnick via HASTAC.org | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

In a recent blog post, Cathy Davidson described her evolution from a badge skeptic to badge evangelist. Indeed, it seems that almost everyone is now a badge evangelist. Go to any conference about learning and education, and you’ll be surrounded by discussions about the transformative potential of badges.

 

So why do I remain a badge skeptic? I have great respect for Cathy and many other badge enthusiasts. And I certainly appreciate the value of badges as credentials. It is often useful to have an external indicator of what you’ve achieved and accomplished, so that others can understand what you’re capable of.

 

The problem, for me, lies in the role of badges as motivators.

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Is There Merit in a Digital Badge?

Is There Merit in a Digital Badge? | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

For me, one of the most interesting implications of badges centers on how and why students and employers might find them useful. Would students potentially find digital badges motivating? Perhaps their scope of use falls into more informal learning or achievement than is usually captured by a degree or credits earned for a course. Perhaps digital badges are most appropriate for the stuff that is not about content knowledge, but is more about behavior. For example, perhaps in addition to diplomas and transcripts that certify assessment of exhibited knowledge in content areas, there is room for digital badges that indicate a learner has exhibited qualities such as “leadership,” “creativity,” “critical reasoning skills,” “civic engagement,” “citizenship,” or a propensity for “volunteerism.”

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Badges as Goals: Achievement Goal Theory

Badges as Goals: Achievement Goal Theory | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

Using achievement goal theory to predict the ways in which these divergent orientations towards learning might impact a learner’s motivation within a badge system can be useful. Badge systems are certainly patterned after similar systems within digital games, where these goal orientations have resulted in the negative outcomes associated with performance goal orientations. Studies that have examined gamers’ motivations have found a negative impact on mood when players adopted a performance goal orientation towards the game, valuing achievements over other aspects of game play (Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006). Additionally, there are contextual factors that interact with these individual student orientations.

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Are badges useful in education?: It depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner | HASTAC

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Samuel Abramovich, Christian Schunn, and Ross Mitsuo Higashi have published a new article about learner motivation and badges at Educational Technology Research and Development.

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Badges Beware: 80% Of Gamification Apps Will End Up Being Losers, Says Gartner | TechCrunch

Badges Beware: 80% Of Gamification Apps Will End Up Being Losers, Says Gartner | TechCrunch | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

After hype cometh the fall. Gamification — the catch-all term for rewards, incentives and loyalty services — has become averypopularway to get users engaged in an increasingly noisy world of apps and online life. But Gartner says in a new study that many of the apps using the technique are becoming noise in themselves: by 2014, 80% of all gamified apps will fail to do what they’ve set out to do, the analyst house predicts.

 

So what’s the problem? According to Gartner research VP Brian Burke, who has been looking at gamification techniques with Brian Blau, it boils down to bad design: companies/developers get fixated on bells and whistles like points and badges, while not creating meaningful enough motivations and objectives. Without the latter, the former become meaningless.

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Zoe Ross » Open Badges

Zoe Ross » Open Badges | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

For the past week I’ve been introducing Open Badges to my Year 7 classes and thought I’d share my experiences.


I really wanted the students to get involved in deciding what badges should be awarded. The questions we used for discussion were:

What have you already got badges for? Why do those organisations give you badges? What badges could we have in ICT?

The discussions surrounding those 3 questions were quite enlightening, as shy students who had not said a word during the previous 2 week’s lessons, shared their achievements outside school and as the penny dropped that these were badges outside ICT competencies – teamwork, creativity, volunteering etc, the enthusiasm of the class noticeably increased.


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Intended Purposes Versus Actual Functions of Digital Badges | Dan Hickey

Intended Purposes Versus Actual Functions of Digital Badges | Dan Hickey | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

My interest in the  function of badges was spurred along when the MacArthur Foundation asked me to help document the design principles for using digital badges that emerge across the 30 projects underway by the awardees in their Badges for Lifelong Learning project.  We need to come up with a manageable number of categories; I almost always consider “manageable” to be at least three and no more than five.  After reading a bunch of stuff and talking to Barry Joseph at Global Kids and Carla Casilli at Mozilla, Connie Yowell at MacArthur, and MacArthur Scholar Mimi Itow, my team and I settled on the following four categories of functions for digital badges to shape our study...

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Designing Open Badges: How does Gamification Influence Motivation?

Designing Open Badges: How does Gamification Influence Motivation? | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

For this experiment to be successful, the badge systems that the DML Competition winners implement next year have to do a number of things at once. The first is pretty self evident: badges should only be earned after a learner completes a sufficiently rigorous curriculum developed by a trustworthy institution. Otherwise nobody will care when a learner earns a badge—least of all potential employers.

 

And that’s why the DML Competition was sure to seek out applicants with brand name muscle, like Disney, NASA, and MentorMob‘s own partners, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Northwest Indiana and Motorola Mobility Foundation. (View a complete list of DML Competition Winners and an overview of MentorMob’s cooperative effort, My Girl Scout Sash is an App, for specifics.)

 

The second thing a badge system must do is a little more slippery—because it’s never really been done before. Each open badges team has to make sure that learners’ knowledge gain is accurately assessed. This assessment can take many different forms: multiple choice quizzes, short answer questions, peer review, and administrator tracking of learner behavior are just a few options, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. And so the technology partner for DML Competition teams (each of which is composed of a Curriculum Partner and a Technology Partner) are tasked with testing and iterating an interface to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

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Q: Are badges motivating? A: Yes, no, and it depends (via StackOverflow)

We like other people to admire us. As geeks we like others to admire us for our skills. Badges/achievements stay visible in association with our online identity long-term, unlike individual good questions & answers which quickly fade into obscurity.

If I play a game and get a great score, it's nice, but it means little to others unless they have the context of what typical scores are for that game (and difficulty level etc.) Whereas an achievement is a little more compact of a summary of what you've accomplished.

 

Badges also give us a checklist whereby we can see how far we've come since we joined the web site -- and how far we have to go in order to be average, or to be exceptional.

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Badges at Pirate Adventure Days | Pirate Patch Blog

Badges at Pirate Adventure Days | Pirate Patch Blog | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

We distributed badges through several channels at the Pirate Adventure days for incoming Freshmen last Thursday and Friday. At laptop distribution, the training rooms all had large posters up with QR codes the students could snap to get the badge showing they’d completed training. They lined up to be sure to get it!

 

Posters with QR codes were put up in other buildings around campus, and students that snapped them won the “Curious Pirate” badge.

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» The Badge Bandwagon: Will You Jump on Board?

» The Badge Bandwagon: Will You Jump on Board? | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

Professor Halavais has not intentionally integrated badges into his instructional strategy as a vehicle for extrinsic motivation. In fact, the connection that has been made between badges and gamification is a point of frustration for him.


“Perhaps my biggest frustration is the ways in which badges are automatically tied to gamification. I think there are ways that games can be used for learning, and I know that a lot of the discussion around badges comes from their use in computer games, but for a number of reasons I think the tie is unfortunate; not least, badges in games are often seen primarily as a way of motivating players to do something they would otherwise not do.”

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5 Use Cases for Badges in the Enterprise - brave new org | brave new org

5 Use Cases for Badges in the Enterprise - brave new org | brave new org | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

How can badges play an effective role inside an organization?
1) Credibility
2) Awareness
3) Motivation
4) Recognition
5) Career

In summary, I’m not tying academic credentials to badges inside the organization; rather, I’m linking the concepts of work-based knowledge, experience, recognition and career development as ways in which to enhance the employee experience. I’m also not at the stage where external badges may find a home inside the organization.

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Badges for Learning: Threading the Needle Between Skepticism and Evangelism | DMLcentral

Badges for Learning: Threading the Needle Between Skepticism and Evangelism | DMLcentral | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

There has been much ado the past week or so about whether badges can offer a viable means for assessing learning. It has been boisterous on both sides. Badge evangelists such as the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (with which those of us at the DML Competition in Badges for Lifelong Learning work closely) and Cathy Davidson (with whom I co-founded HASTAC) have laid out a vision for how badging might work to reveal, recognize, and reward learning and learning pathways. But there are also skeptics in the room. Mitch Resnick has laid down the challenge to badges for learning. It is good to have serious and thoughtful skeptics to keep the evangelistas honest. Similarly, Henry Jenkins has popped the balloon of a too quic

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DML: Are Badges the Answer? Perspectives on Motivation for Lifelong Learning | DML2012

DML: Are Badges the Answer? Perspectives on Motivation for Lifelong Learning | DML2012 | Badges for Lifelong Learning | Scoop.it

The field of digital media and learning is focusing attention on badges as motivators and credentials for lifelong learning. Are badges and related reward systems crowding out other important sources of motivation? Join this session for a provocative yet practical discussion of approaches for engaging youth in sustained pursuit of learning.

 

Panelists will share ideas from research and practice on creating conditions that foster motivation for learning. Session participants will engage in discussion of examples of youth engaged in learning online and offline, with each scenario highlighting a different source of motivation and alternative pathways for gaining recognition. Panelists and participants will discuss how to apply these concepts and approaches to the design of digital environments and initiatives.

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What If You Could Get a Merit Badge for Learning the Quadratic Equation?

One of the most powerful learning and motivational devices in games is the possibility of acquiring badges or advancing to higher levels when the player achieves some new skill or competency. The idea is not new, nor is it limited to games. Football coaches, military personnel, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have long used the technique as a way to build a ramp of small steps toward some great achievement. Now this idea is being implemented online for people who would like to learn a skill and be certified.

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