What are Badges/Micro Credits?

Badges are seen as a way to grant certification for informal learning in the form of micro-credits. A key aspect of gamification is to build in easy to reach incentives, and badges are an simple way to bring that idea to learning. The concept behind badging draws on longstanding ways learning has been documented in other settings, such as the personal skills and achievement when a Boy or Girl Scout earns a merit badge. The approach is being used in learning environments like the Khan Academy, with promising results. People watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. Mozilla has published an open specification for badging — the Open Badge Initiative (OBI) — that enables providers and users alike to easily display their achievements on the web. Badges can be used as a way to incorporate some of the advantages of game mechanics as participants work through various levels or stages to achieve credentials. While badges are not by any means pervasive in education systems, they appeal to many educators because they are considered to be more authentic signs of knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition than standard tests, grades, or course credits.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Badges have potential but it has not been embraced by the educational community. Coursera and other online courses currently will send you a meta badge for your LinkedIn account. Students need to have a place to store them such as their own web portfolio but this has not taken off, too. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Jan 26, 2014
  • A badge is more telling about what a student can do than a letter grade. What does a C even mean? Or for that matter an A? The quality of skills varies greatly by how the teacher designed the class. Badges can let other teachers know where to build from for each student and help to individualize instruction. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
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  • I am adding this link to an article, and have cited two K 12 applications from this article in section 4 below.
It sounds so "do-able" I wonder why we are not offering badge programs. Potentially it could impact personalized learning, 21st century skills, formal and informal learning, career/college readiness.- jmorrison jmorrison Feb 3, 2014
  • - bobmoore bobmoore Feb 4, 2014I really don't understand the learning theory behind badges. I'm not a gamer, so maybe that's what I'm missing. It reminds me of Read180 "Walls" that I've seen in some elementary schools. great for the kids who have the accomplishements, but no so good for those who are struggling. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014
  • Badge systems are great for introducing the concept of pass/fail into K-12, or for things where we care about whether or not you can accomplish some level of task. They stand in stark contrast to any grading system, but do not need to replace them. It should be viewed as a complementary system, allowing for students to show proficiency prior to advancing on to different work, or possibly being able to achieve additional privileges for other systems. They are also a good measure of accountability for blended/flipped learning to show that you have completed work not done in a classroom. - alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - bobmoore bobmoore Feb 4, 2014I get concerned that Badges will be yet another way to separate the kids who succeed and those who have not been successful, and not because they don't want to or haven't worked hard, rather because they need a different path. We need to make sure that these are not misused. I can see parents sharing their kids badges with their family, friends and co-workers. Kind of makes the "I'm a Parent of a Name Your School Honor Student" bumper stickers seem harmless. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014
  • I wasn't sure where to add this comment, so I'll just drop it in here: despite lots of hope (and some funding) in this area, we are not really seeing any significant uptake in this stuff. Execution lags far behind potential to date. - mtrucano mtrucano Feb 6, 2014
  • I agree that there is lots of potential, but nowhere near the amount of uptake I would expect for something that has been around for a few years. I also think that the level of coordination between systems, platforms, and schools has contributed to the lack of movement in this area.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • A focus on skills rather than assignments. An ability to reduce the importance of grades (which IMHO are demotivating and detract from learning). Allows for student choice if they can choose which badges, which can help to increase buy in for school. The ability to encourage students to stretch themselves into areas they might not otherwise be attracted to. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • A badge system implies that students have the ability to work on them even without being in a classroom, which would encourage self-directed learning. It also brings a sense of pride and accomplishment. When used for faculty training, it also becomes a way to track accountability and development of teachers.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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