Badges in Education
What value does a badge have? Why would we invest in such an idea? Take a look at the image to the right. Badges are simply visual representations of the recognition that a student has mastered a particular skill or has achieved something of value. Think of merit badges earned by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, think of ribbons earned by Civil Air Patrol cadets, and of ribbons and trophies we all may have earned at various competitions. The OpenBadge movement simply seeks to create a protocol around issuing, earning and displaying badges as a visual representation of what a learner has achieved.Consider the various standards that pervade the educational system - Frameworks, Strands, Common Core - they all have a structure with very discreet and explicit expectations in order for students to meet that standard. But these strands are not the entirety of what our learners may be capable of. OpenBadges allow learners to earn badges in areas that they have an interest in after they demonstrate their mastery of specific competencies in these areas.Teachers are asked to differentiate to meet the needs of our learners. We are asked to support our students in so many different ways. Badges enable us to document that differentiation and recognize the progress our learners make outside of the traditional classroom.
At an even higher level, consider the discussion occurring around the relevancy and currency of higher education offerings. Open-courses, independent certification processes and now badges are shaking up the traditional educational model. Learners can test out of classes by demonstrating competency in a wider range of topics and are not constrained by a program of studies. Employers are looking for employees with specific, tangible and work-ready skills, and now employees can quickly demonstrate their value to the employer.