I’ve been following the discussions on here with interest and it’s good to have such committed and knowledgeable contributors. Doug’s comments that “So some badges will be static, well-known things, whereas others could be much more ad-hoc, fluid, or even humorous badges. :-)” gives us a pretty broad remit for this project. I’d like to offer a couple of comments.
I really like the idea of the awarding of badges by peers. In an FE college in the North west of England they set up a staff development system to encourage their staff to use technology to enhance their teaching. This was set up as an 8 step process from ‘uploading the course documents’ to ‘ facilitating collaborative and interactive learning’. The nice thing about this was that once a tutor had gained their 8th level they automatically became an assessor and were able to verify work done by another colleague. This took away the need for the staff development team to spend a large amount of their time in verification and encouraged peer development and support. This might be a possible model for the awarding of badges within an organisation for staff or learner development.
My main experience in teaching has been with learners with complex needs (short hand for students with more than one difficulty, learning, sensory, physical or behavioural.) I note the comments about rewards not being the end in themselves but there are very valid reasons for embracing and using them. Many more complex learners achieve in very small and sometimes almost imperceptible steps. Tracking learning and achievement for them is detailed and sometimes overly complex. Involving the learner in their learning has always been something I tried to do. I like the concept of learners assessing their own and other’s contributions to a lesson and we encouraged them to also reflect on their PLTS (personal learning and thinking skills). We used to make the evaluation of the lesson part of the lesson and each learner reflected on their own and their peers achievements. (we had very very small classes!) However, this was recorded against pre-set targets etc within the information management system of the college. How great would it have been for the students to be able to award each other and themselves badges to be added to their achievement records, portfolios or blogs. The badges could also be used as a reminder of their achievements when the next lesson comes along (for students with short term memory loss getting to the place that you finished the last lesson is a major issue!)
An additional problem I did and still struggle to resolve is the ‘spiky profile’. I was in a specialist provider a month or so ago as a young man showed me how he edited the college’s podcast for the week. He was a wheel chair user and had the use of only one arm. He also had no functional literacy (in the general sense of the word). However, he knew what he wanted to do, and was able to use audacity well to edit the audio track, add some incidental music and record the introduction. I could see a badges system working well to recognise and celebrate this sort of achievement. Many learners have a level of digital literacy which is far higher than their perceived traditional literacy. They can do what they want/need to do – upload photos to facebook, download music etc. But couldn’t write a college newsletter.
I realise my experience is probably not even close to the norm for most of the contributors here but thought I’d share it anyway.