I’m excited that next week the judges will be listening to the “pitches” and then determining the winners of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition. Immediately after, will be the opening of what promises to be the best Digital Media and Learning Conference yet, “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World” (to be held in San Francisco, March 1-3, 2012). I’m thrilled about both of these showcases for new learning innovation. But I have a confession to make: when I first began learning about badges, I was skeptical. I was afraid that, rather than taking us “beyond educational technology,” badges would throw our passionate digital learning community into yet another morass of over-priced tech.