#ISTE2016 #edbadges #badgechatk12 We hear a lot about protecting our online privacy, so this post may seem counter-intuitive. You can relax, though -- I’m not advocating that your students’ identity, grades, or deepest secrets be made public. What I am advocating is that their best work and greatest academic accomplishments be on display for the world to see.
When instituting a badge system, it might seem simpler to develop a process where student work is simply exchanged between students and teachers, and badges are awarded on a chart or class blog that only the teachers, and maybe a student’s direct classmates, can see. But a badge system that is set up this way is lacking some of the most functional and motivating parts of the system. So here are a few things you can do to make your badge system more open...
1. Publicly Visible Badges
One of the main elements of the system should be publicly visible beyond the classroom: the badges themselves, and the artifacts that earned those badges. As my book discusses, you have a choice between physical badges, such as customized buttons pinned on a backpack, or digital badges, possible hosted on a platform such as Open Badges. The first type meet the “open” criteria because they go wherever that student’s backpack goes. Other students and teachers, other parents, kids on the bus, and friends at after-school activities can all plainly see the badges the student has earned. Online badges can be shared via students’ social media accounts or on their personal blogs. This visibility gives students recognition for the skills they are developing. It allows them to build their academic identity and reputation-- a positive sort of “street-cred,” if you will.
2. Publicly Visible Evidence
But a badge’s value goes beyond the good feeling of displaying a shiny button -- a badge should also be a link to evidence of the student’s achievement. Online badges are typically set up so that a click on the badge can display vital information about that badge: when, where, and especially how it was earned. Ideally, it would even link to the student-created artifact that earned the badge.
So, if someone noticed a filmmaking badge on a student’s blog, one click would show them not only that their badge was earned as a part of their eighth grade digital media class, list the skills they had to demonstrate to earn it, and link to their badge-earning video. Digital badges have built-in credibility because they are directly associated with the skills that earned them. There is no question of whether or not a student truly earned or deserved a badge, because the evidence is immediately available.
The buttons my students receive don’t quite have the fancy link features of a digital badge. However, this method is typically used with younger students, and skills are much simpler at this point, and quite easy for a student to explain. Ask any of my students how they earned that badge with the spotlight on it, and they will tell you all about the short film they made. And, if they have their iPad with them, they’ll probably show you, too. Even though my students’ badges aren’t stored online, they are all required to keep a digital portfolio of their work where it can be seen by classmates. I am currently working on a hybrid system for next year that includes a digital badge to match their physical badge.
3. Defendable Evidences
Shared, viewable work also demonstrates the badge system’s emphasis on demonstrable skills, or competencies, rather than seat time or unapplied, factual head-knowledge. A badge is directly linked to an artifact that showcases a skill. Pretty simple, right? But an open badge system wouldn’t work or make sense if the badges were not strictly skill-based. You can’t provide a link to something a student knows-- only to something a student does. And once a student has acquired skills, they can then demonstrate the mastery of those skills when asked.
Equipping students to name and share their skills will prepare them well for a chancing workforce. Employers may have been satisfied with the name of a school, the name of a degree, a GPA, and maybe a transcript in the past. However, businesses have been noting for years a growing gap between the skills needed in their workplace and the skills of their prospective employees. As a result, employer preferences are shifting towards resumes and portfolios that demonstrate skills, not just schooling. Students who learned in an open badge system not only possess those necessary skills, but are more than ready to describe, define, and demonstrate their skills.