What are Badges/Micro-credits?

Badges are a mechanism to award incentives, progress indicators, and micro-credits. 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 a credible alternative for measuring knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition in a very granular way, as compared to standard tests, grades, or the venerable credit hour.

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

  • Motivation is a key challenge within getting audiences to participate in learning activities, even museums. Badges offer an incentive that people respond to well. Video game technologies have embraced these kinds of small "achievement" awards. However, I don't think the wider public is yet to become aware of these systems and embrace them. The only example I can think of is Four Square, which is not directly related to education. - ortiz ortiz Oct 29, 2014
  • I agree that motivation is a key challenge. It is also tied closely with reward. Museums need to find creative and appropriate ways to create badges that motivate visitors but also reward them in a way that encourages meaningful learning outcomes. - rstriojr rstriojr Nov 1, 2014
  • Badges (and various related efforts) can provide the bridge that legitimizes the learning in the museum setting and, in the best of all worlds, enable a learner to carry with him/her a lifelong set of accomplishments that crisscrosses between 'formal,' 'out-of-school,' and on the job learning opportunities. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014

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

  • In some ways this idea is related to gamification. They are not exactly the same, but these "micro-rewards" are a part of the idea of gamification. - ortiz ortiz Oct 29, 2014
  • I think that there are examples of school systems that are adopting various badging protocols. Also, there have been some changes in state legislation around learning that legitimizes alternative forms of credentialing, recognizing how much learning can and is achieved beyond the current 'time in seats' model. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014 add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Museums could be leaders in using badges for learning and education. There's a great opportunity. However, museums would take a big risk if they led the way on this, but couldn't connect it to a audiences. - ortiz ortiz Oct 29, 2014
  • I think there is potential to think about using badges within organisations with staff for professional development and training, particularly with promoting digital literacy. I had started to experiment with this idea at the Imperial War Museum around a Computer Club idea where informal hands on sessions on different areas of digital technology were delivered to staff. Every time they attended a session, they received a Computer Club badge that they could collect and then use as part of their annual appraisals and job plans to demonstrate an interest in digital. The badges become a talking point that people wanted to collect. I think 'gamifying' professional development and training in this way has a lot of potential, particularly if the badges could be added to Linkedin profiles etc. - croyston croyston Nov 1, 2014
  • Yes, badges can work within organizations (see Chicago's Digital Youth Network) to 'ladder up' mentors and other individuals and their skills. In addition, badges can legitimize the real and valuable and measurable learning that occurs within museums and link to in-school learning. Badges are being promoted by Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation within the nascent (and growing) 'cities of learning' movement. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014

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

  • Mobbr is an excellent 'crowdpayment' (micro-credits) system that's getting ever more traction: https://mobbr.com/#/ As pointed out above, I find it's often used as an element in gamification or crowdfunding and not as a stand-alone solution. - jasper jasper Nov 2, 2014
  • Look at the many Hive programs started in Chicago, New York, San Francisco,; the ReMake Learning project in Pittsburgh, after-school work in Providence, RI; also look at Credly, a new badging program, created by Jonathan Finkelstein and also being piloted in some cities. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014 dd your response here
  • http://openbadges.org/ has been established by Mozilla and is cited in the recent AAM/Center for the Art Museums report (p. 6): "Digital tools such as badges recognize and document student learning, and can even be used to grant school credit for learning that happens in museums." See also the HASTAC work in this area:
    http://www.hastac.org/collections/digital-badges. A promising area of intersection between museums and the education sector. - AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014

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