Why Should You Care About Badges?

How are we using badges to enable a complex, robust ecology of learning to support more just & equitable social futures?

About The Speaker(s)

  • Cathy N. Davidson, a distinguished scholar of the history of technology and recently appointed to the National Humanities Council by President Obama, is a leading innovator of new ideas and methods for learning and professional development--in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life. She is cofounding director of the 11,000+ member international digital learning network HASTAC (“haystack”), Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science Alliance and Collaboratory, whose motto is “Difference is our operating system,” and co-directs the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions.
  • Jim Diamond is a researcher at the EDC/Center for Children & Technology in NYC and a Digital Media and Learning Research Competition on Badging and Badge Systems Development grantee.
  • Sheryl Grant is Director of Social Networking for the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition and a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science.

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Resources

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (06:10) Right now, we have a mismatch between the systems of accreditation that allows kids to have a visible pathway to achieve in our society, and all the possible ways of learning.
  • (07:54) Arguably, some of the best learning that's going on is going on outside of classrooms and we're not recognizing it. What [badges] really give us the potential to do is to start to give kids another way to earn credentials. Or not even earn credentials, but maybe just have an entrance into a new community.
  • (13:37) There's a kind of scrappiness to badges...I hope, as a community, that we don't lose that scrappiness...There is something very grassroots and local about badges.
  • (19:10) Can you both talk about the concept of badge-issuing being a kind of endorsement for the type of person Cathy was just talking about? How can a badge lend credibility to those individual accomplishments?
  • (27:04) Badges are not just an image with stuff in them, they make visible human qualities that don't--in our current systems--have a way of carrying, of having transparency, of counting in the world.
  • (29:56) Is there a pedagogical kernel that we can build on to preserve the identity and learning pathways dimensions? So that badges don't become yet another way to rank people?
  • (38:04) I think one of the reasons we're all reading Finnish lessons and why we're all so excited that this country that got rid of ranking, that's based on equity...that got rid of standardized testing came in the top 5 when, just for fun, they gave their kids OECD tests is because we want to believe in that world.
  • (41:45) Until badges, we haven't really bestowed credentials on those links [to academic achievements, to jobs, to civic engagement]. I'm wondering what this might mean for the Connected Learning community...can badges help us learn something about the transfer of skills to other contexts?
  • (49:30) Digital badges caught the attention of Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as Chicago's Summer of Learning...it has this feeling of disruptive innovation, not just the technology but the timing of this to make a difference in the existing systems. Can you talk about what you think the factors are that are sparking this interest at all these different levels?
  • (54:57) This is a beta system and I hope it's always a system. But if it isn't about social justice, why bother? We have to make that our primary commitment in everything we do. We have to be offering new pathways to people who've been told that there's a roadblock.

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