Recognizing and Assessing Out-of-School Learning

How are badges helping learners publicize their out-of-school learning and interest-based skills? How should these kinds of skills be measured?

About The Speaker(s)

  • Alex Halavais is a DML Competition winner, and an associate professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University, where he researches ways in which social media change the nature of scholarship and learning, and allow for new forms of collaboration and self-government.
  • Dan Hickey is an Associate Professor of Learning Sciences, and Research Scientist at the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University. He leads the DML funded Design Principles Documentation Project that is capturing the design principles for using badges that emerge across the 30 DML 2012 awardees competition.
  • Sean Duncan is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences, and Research Scientist at the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University. He leads the Connecting Badges Project, working to characterize expertise in interest-driven online spaces and connect research on affinity spaces to badge design.

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (04:03) I wanted to get a view of what you thought were the really big and interesting questions when it comes to badge research?
  • (07:25) What has really pushed this recent development of badges has been a desire to capture and understand something about the forms of learning that we haven't already been able to capture, understand, credentialize, and inspire in the past.
  • (10:13) For me, badges represent that bridge between formal, institutionalized learning and informal structures. And being able to track learning that moves from one place to another.
  • (14:15) Because the evidence is contained in those badges...if you want to verify it, you can actually click on it and see...the evidence associated with this claim. That's the game-changer; that's why digital badges are what I call a 'transcendent' form of assessment.
  • (15:20) I've been having to write these terse descriptions of badges these days and the one that I've come up with that seems to resonate is: "Badges contain detailed claims about learning, they contain links to actual evidence of learning that supports those claims, and they're shareable over the Web."
  • (18:34) One of the questions that's been nagging at me about the badges world has been: how do people actually perform, using digital badges, differently than people who are perhaps not particularly interested in picking up digital badges?
  • (20:09) One of the advantages, theoretically, to badges is that you can attack things in different orders and in different ways...but a score is a score--it's a single, linear comparison.
  • (25:44) When a community comes together and recognizes the value of a learner-defined badge, you're way ahead of the game.
  • (29:00) I think in more formal environments, the 'Why is someone even participating in those spaces?' is a little more clear...In these very informal spaces, I think there's a panopoly of reasons why people are participating. That really muddies the water, and that's why it's so interesting to look at.
  • (33:27) As you move into more and more formal spaces, it gets more and more difficult to do peer recognition...Once you start attaching any serious consequences to them, it gets really hard; as they get more and more summative, they get more and more problematic.
  • (37:51) What we're trying to do is take some of these projects that have essentially failed and turn that around into a lesson. That's a big challenge for us as a project...what we've done is reframe our work in the notion of challenges.
  • (44:17) I think the issues for me when it comes to badges...are the issues of power and the issues of who is giving the badges and how are they working within the institutional goals of whatever the space happens to be?
  • (47:27) Credibility is constructed very quickly, and you can lose it very quickly. All it takes is a serious exchange of doubt in a trust network for some sort of credential to become pretty worthless overnight.
  • (52:55) The 'badges of failure'--I've tried to do that and it's really difficult to do it right, the sort of 'glorious failure badge'...What I've found instead is this idea of the sort of 'incomplete badge'...this idea of a badge that's still in process. A 'failed' badge does suggest that you've failed and walked away from it. And an 'incomplete' badge just says "I'm getting towards this badge, I just haven't gotten there yet."

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