In previous posts at HASTAC and Remediating Assessment I argued that we need to look beyond the intended purposes of digital badges and consider the actual functions of badges. This builds on what Jim Greeno has convinced me what happens when situative views of knowing and learning are applied to assessment. A later post elaborated on the summative, formative, and transformative functions of digital badges. That later post also promised a subsequent post on what we might calltranscendent functions. I had written some about it in the original version but it was too long and I really could not wrap my head around it at the time. The upshot was something like this:
Digital badges promise to allow some and force others to transcend existing paradigms of recognizing, assessing, motivating, and studying learning.
Beyond this prediction I could not really add very much beyond referencing Cathy Davidson’s suggestion that the 2012 competition might be the “tipping point” for the DML community.
But in the last couple of week, Cathy Davidson, Bill Penuel, Michael Olneck and others have initiated a really great discussion of this issue on one of our project blog posts at HASTAC on studying learning with digital badges. These exchanges convinced me to return the notion of transcendent functions in light of the work over the subsequent year. Cathy’s closing question on her initial comment really helped move my thinking forward:
Is it possible that the chief importance of badges will be to push wholesale reform of existing credentialing systems? Or is the present system too much rooted in an antiquated view of disciplines, competencies, expertise, authority, credentialing, ability/disability, hierarchy and data to be as useful as badging potentially is for new ways of defining the talents needed in the world we live in now?