Monday, May 7, 2012

Three wishes for Mozilla Open Badges


I’ll be blogging in response to a webinar series offered by connectedlearning.tv at the invitation of the National Writing Project’s Digital Is.




After watching latest web session on connectedlearning.tv in which Erin Knight of Mozilla discussed the company’s vision for their Open Badge infrastructure, I discovered that Knight’s guarded optimism about the project was contagious. Here are three reasons I can get excited about open badges:

Badges might help us rethink motivation and learning


    Knight commented in the web session that the binary view of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is too restrictive for learning. By recognizing interest-driven learning through badges, we can study motivation in spaces where learners have a great deal more time, autonomy and support than schools can provide. This new conversation about badges could spark a new conversation about learning and motivation.

Badges might help us recognize the learning students do outside of the classroom and employ meaningful measurements


    Students learn a great deal in spaces outside of the classroom and often do not see those as important learning experiences. A badge system might help students see themselves as learners by calling attention to learning that occurs in after school clubs, hobbies or recreational programs.
    Additionally, by inviting adult experts to use alternative measures to assess learning in a variety of places and spaces, we invite communities to think with educators about meaningful assessment that matters. At a time when people have ready access to the grades for their local schools determined by standardized tests, badges provide a welcome opportunity to rethink assessment criteria and learning. Might badges open the door for communities to think about qualifying the learning kids do rather than quantifying it?


Badge may popularize PLNs


Badge programs may help to popularize personal learning networks (PLNs), an emerging concept in online professional development for educators. More and more teachers have embraced online networks as powerful collaborative learning opportunities. By working online, teachers connect with colleagues and experts around the world to pursue learning that is relevant to them. A badge program like Mozilla’s may be a tipping point that allows educators who believe in self-directed, collaborative learning to open students’ eyes to a new approach to interest driven learning.   

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