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Week 6 - Questions about #DMLbadges

Now that the DML Competition website has been launched with details of the $2m available in grants for projects, what questions have you got?

Here's a better place than Twitter to discuss the issues (we're not limited to 140 characters!)

Task Discussion

  • Jacky Hood   Oct. 1, 2011, 12:06 p.m.


    A big thank you for organizing this class and keeping it lively. It has been fun and informative.


  • Doug Belshaw   Oct. 1, 2011, 2:34 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jacky Hood   Oct. 1, 2011, 12:06 p.m.

    Thanks Jacky! It tailed off towards the end due to the demands of my doctoral thesis (submitting Monday) but I think it was a worthwhile few weeks of sharing and discussion. :-)

  • Ellen Marie Murphy   Sept. 26, 2011, 11:53 p.m.

    There are a small number of institutions that currently give credit for "Prior Learning"--that is learning gained through experience or accomplishments outside of a typical classroom.  And it makes sense.  Imagine if Steve Jobs was told he needed a degree, and required to sit in classrooms listening to lectures on innovation, or marketing?  I know an individual who worked as a Wilderness Guide for two years, but was told that none of that experience could count as credit towards a degree in Outdoor Education; rather, she was told she'd have to repeat those experiences, while she was matriculated, so she could earn her internship credits. It's like seeing a beautiful bridge that someone built and telling them "Nice, but we require you to take a course in bridge building before you can get credit."  And, many of us know people who are self-taught and highly skilled.

    I hope that the Badges can allow individuals who've successfully accomplished certain tasks, mastered certain knowledges or skills, or displayed certain characteristics, to get credit for these things.  And that the credit will indeed be seen as valuable, that it will be recognized.

  • Jacky Hood   Sept. 27, 2011, 10:10 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Ellen Marie Murphy   Sept. 26, 2011, 11:53 p.m.

    Ellen mentions that only a few institutions give credit for prior learning.

    On the other hand testing out of classes is pretty common. This allows a student to enter a curriculum part-way through rather than starting at a level below his/her knowledge.

    One of the reasons that schools/employers require students to repeat experience after matriculation is that minimum wage laws (in the USA and presumably elsewhere) do not allow unpaid internships unless the person is receiving educational credit. Another reason is that the institution needs tuition and fees to operate. Other than the occasional honorary degree to a celebrity, colleges cannot afford to hand out credentials without payment. Also, an institution would need to hire a different type of person to certify life learning rather than creating and teaching classes.

    Open education means that existing institutions must change and that new institutions will emerge.

  • IaninSheffield   Sept. 24, 2011, 3:07 a.m.

    I now have a draft proposal for the competition, so I created an account at fastapps, logged in and checked out the submission form. There are two things I was wondering if anyone could help me with.

    1. Annual Operating Budget field - is for our organisation, or for the project? (I'm guessing the latter?)
    2. Requested budget - now I wasn't expecting this question quite so early i.e. before being married up with a tech project entry, but I can see why it would need a figure.

    Here's my problem: the cost of producing the Badge Content end of this is elastic. It could be zero (the people involved are working on this curriculum material anyway as part of their daily responsibilities) or it could provide professional development and/or release time for the people concerned. But my feeling is that the main part of the cost would be in commissioning a team to undertake the technical side of things ... something we don't have the in-house expertise for. And I've absolutely no idea what the cost of delivering the technical side would be? Or maybe I shouldn't be worrying about that side of things because (hopefully) there will be an entry in the tech competition with which we can be married and they'll take care of that?

    All a bit naive I know, but if anyone could offer any suggestions, I'd be grateful.

  • Jacky Hood   Sept. 24, 2011, 11:56 a.m.
    In Reply To:   IaninSheffield   Sept. 24, 2011, 3:07 a.m.

    Here's two places where you may get an answer:

    Mozilla Foundation staff are meeting Monday Sep 26 about details of the competition for MacArthur grants. This meeting is open to all --

    Also check out this calendar of events about the badge competition:

  • AndiRehak   Sept. 20, 2011, 8:29 p.m.


    Every time a new educational fad erupts it seems to be polarizing, which seems to hold true in the conversations surrounding the dml announcement.  Instead of talking about whether we agree or disagree with the movement a better topic would be, what can these badges do for education, specifically assessment?

    I am excited to see what comes of the research grants for the badges.  Will we start giving badges instead of end of course assessments/exams?  Would that be a good thing?  How would it work?

    Yes of course it would be messy, but what if students had to obtain specific badges to pass into the next grade or to receive a high school diploma?  Would it motivate students to complete their coursework or would it only further increase dropout rates?  At any rate it is obvious that we would have to get the buy in of students to pull this off effectively....

    For an different perspective the dml badges initiative check out Rafi Santo's blog @

  • Doug Belshaw   Sept. 20, 2011, 5:49 a.m.

    Cathy Davidson on why badges are a good idea: Why badges? Why not?

    Jenna McWilliams on why they're perhaps not: Ok, #DMLdudes: I have something else to say about badges.

  • Jacky Hood   Sept. 19, 2011, 4:43 p.m.

    In the twitter about the grants, people expressed concern that there would be a proliferation of badges of dubious value. Nobody can stop that from happening and it would not be desirable. Our organization plans to categorize and rank badges by difficulty. We think our website that lists the badges will get substantial traffic just as our lists of open textbooks have done.

    We are thinking of something like a 1-100 scale where 1 is a badge for showing up at a meeting and 100 is for post-doctorate work. Or in a non-academic analogy, 1 might be for singing a simple tune and 100 for appearing as the principal baritone in an opera at La Scala.

    We will also list and rate collections of badges.

    We only plan to link to the badges being offered, not awarded badges. Organizations like LinkedIn are planning to display awarded badges. Eventually we will have a relational database that will allow visitors to the website to look up badges by subject, issuer, geography, popularity, etc.

    Here are some URLs related to the grants:

    Excellent summary by Cathy Davidson, Co-founder, HASTAC; Co-PI, HASTAC, MacArthur Foundation Digital Media:



  • Ellen Marie Murphy   Sept. 20, 2011, 10:07 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jacky Hood   Sept. 19, 2011, 4:43 p.m.

    I do agree that Badges have the potential of becoming quite watered down and wholeheartedly agree that this needs to be taken into grave consideration, however I would not want to see weight / scale related to a previously obtained degree (as in the case of "100 is for post-doctorate work".)  The degree a person already has in hand should have no bearing on the value / merit of a particular piece of work or accomplishment.  Its value should be on its own merit and apart from any previous accomplishment.

  • AndiRehak   Sept. 20, 2011, 11:03 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Ellen Marie Murphy   Sept. 20, 2011, 10:07 p.m.

    Ellen raises a great point!  There are so many options of routes to go with badges and it is very important that it is done what is the right way?  Thoughts?

  • Doug Belshaw   Sept. 24, 2011, 1:54 a.m.
    In Reply To:   AndiRehak   Sept. 20, 2011, 11:03 p.m.

    I'm not sure there is a 'right' way to implement badges! I think it's an idea that could be applied in a multitude of ways - hence the competition.

    I, for one, am really looking forward at what people come up with. :-)

  • Jacky Hood   Sept. 24, 2011, 11:52 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Ellen Marie Murphy   Sept. 20, 2011, 10:07 p.m.

    Thanks Ellen.

    I was just trying to give a sense of the accomplishment associated with various badge levels, not to imply that prior credentials were required. For example, in the College Open Textbooks first badge, we have dropped the word 'peer' from 'textbook reviewer'. The word 'peer' carried with it a requirement that the reviewer have academic and experience credentials in the subject being reviewed.

    In addition to the academic and music examples I gave, here are some more examples:

    • Level 1 read the pilot's manual; Level 100 did a solo flight across the Atlantic
    • Level 1 drew a circle and shot the first marble; Level 100 won the global marbles award
    • Level 1 wrote a paragraph; Level 100 won a Pulitzer
    • Level 1 ran across the playground; Level 100 ran in the Olympics