Badges and Analysis

Badges:
Badges as Alternative Credentials
I like the idea of badges bridging gaps between entities that might certify someone in some way, like Mozilla Open Badges allows. I think that the roadblock to the implementation will be gaining credibility, similar to some MOOCS. It will be important for badge issuers to be upfront about what badges mean so that people will be able to get comfortable with accepting them as meaningful.
Baker’s idea that badges could replace standardized tests sounds exciting, but I’m a little wary again about credibility. She likens them to merit badges in the Boy Scout program, where one long standing joke is about the boys mother doing his projects for him. It could be very easy for one person to complete badges for another, or for people to break the rules of badges. Of course this is true of homework and even tests, but I think that in these cases it is a little bit easier to spot cheating. I still think that at least adding badges would be a step in the right direction because if credibility can be gained then everything can become more applicably tied to actual skills that are useful in the real world.
The Mozilla Open Badge project seems to have a lot of potential. It links learning experiences to skills to real world rewards. I worry that while it is good that anyone can make or earn a badge, that that might get out of hand. What if people make silly badges that take over those that are actually useful? Also, while badge is a name that communicates what I think they mean to, it does seem a little juvenile.
The Badges for Lifelong learning video makes a good case for using badges to follow the path of successful people that you want to emulate. It would make it easier for people to figure out where to start and how best to move forward, which is a challenge for many entering a new field. It also makes a good case for learning anywhere at any time. I think that a lot of young people are pulling information and experiences from many different places on their own, and this might be a good way to harness that learning.
Are badges assessments?
I don’t think that badges on their own are assessments. In some ways they might be, in that you are awarded a badge after doing something, but it by nature seems to be a pass-fail situation, wherein people can’t be assessed on the caliber of their work, but just that the world was accomplished. There is going to be a spectrum among badge receivers. I think that it is fairly simple, like in Dr. Wiley’s MOOC, to organize badges into a form that can assess overall learning.
Analysis:
Dick & Carey:
-When an instructional designer encounters “a fuzzy” he should write the goal down and, write down what action would demonstrate accomplishment, and then turn the best actions into goal statements. He should then assess these statements in terms of the goal. We’ve talked several times about understanding the client’s goals. I think that this a good way to incorporate backwards design into goal understanding. I think that if it is possible it would be best to, after this process, approve the plan to meet this goal with the client, as the instructional designer would have effectively created a prototype at this point. It is difficult to get into someone else’s mind to understand the context that their goal was created in, but by looking at it a piece at a time and communicating early and often I think that it is possible to get close enough to reach the goals.
-The authors caution that goal-setting should take under consideration resources, the desires of the client and the problem that is to be solved. Another concern is the return for completing the goal as compared to the cost. One of my classes recently had a discussion with our professor on this topic. We thought that there should be more outlets in our classroom and that it would be worth the cost to install them. He then pointed out that while right now a majority of students operate in class with laptops, there is a move toward tablets, and more outlets might become obsolete in a few years if students replaced their laptops with tablets that had a longer battery life. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but often there are layers of goals or taksts. In this situation the goal was the biggest benefit to students for the lowest cost. It seemed that the answer was more plugs, but students does not just mean current students, and the long-term answer was that the money could probably be better spent elsewhere. Similarly, the constraints may seem such that the task at hand looks to be one thing, but it may really be something else or best solved by a less obvious way. It will be helpful to look at as many angles as possible during the analysis process.
Smith & Ragan
-When designing instruction one must consider learning characteristics. There are four main categories (cognitive, physiological, affective and social), and numerous sub topics. I think this it is important to understand students, especially in cases when instruction can be tailored to individual students. I wonder, though, if in settings with more students it is possible to get a group that is homogenous enough for many of these things to be useful (or do you just work towards those characteristics they do have in common? Age or past experiences for instance.) I also wonder if basic human nature is varied enough for all of these characteristics, beyond past experience, to matter very much. Most of the time, and in our case, you are creating a class for specific, yet unspecified people. So it is important to know about their demographic and backgrounds, as least to figure out what their previous learning experiences have been and what their motivations might be, to create a course that is as beneficial as possible.
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