Badging Adventures Part 1 – The Why.

Originally posted to philmacoun.ca on May 28, 2018.

For the past few months, I have been trying to figure out how to use Badging effectively in my classroom to empower my ICT students and differentiate learning. This is part of a larger attempt to understand Open Badging, and the work being done to date on using Badges with adults to facilitate meaningful professional learning. But I thought I would start with my students, as I am hoping they will be more forgiving of my efforts.

So far, I have managed to set up a Badged course on Basic Web Authoring for my students using a mashup of Google Tools and it is working quite well. How I set this up and how it works will be topics of later blog posts but for now, I want to unpack why I am doing this. As Simon Sinek says, it is important to start with why.

In a nutshell, the ‘why’ for me is ‘agency’, which I understand to mean the feeling that you are in control and have the capacity to make your own decisions to improve a situation. This wasn’t my ‘why’ when I started this journey, back then it was a different word, ‘inquiry’. I was wondering how to encourage teachers to shift to more of an inquiry approach to teaching and learning and thought HyperDocs could be leveraged to help. I even made a short video of my idea.

Then I went to the #Syd17 Google Summit in Sydney, Australia and started thinking about how effective change occurs when the people feel empowered and in control of the change and that my HyperDoc idea was only part of the solution. This is when I started thinking about Badges. In particular, there are two elements of Badges that I thought could help build agency (from the Open Badges website):

  1. They can be used to build pathways to support individuals to work towards learning goals,
  2. They provide a new way to identify talent based on competency and attitude

In other words, they can be used to help someone envision a pathway to gaining new skills and provide clear, measurable steps for them to follow. As well, they make it easy for the learners’ skills and abilities to be shared, which to me is really important.

When I looked at Badging platforms that might help me get started I was struck by how many of these platforms provided Badges, Leaderboards, and lists of criteria, but not any way for the badge earner to actually gain the necessary skills. I started to wonder if Hyperdocs could fill this gap.

In part 2 I will explain how I combined Badges and a Hyperdoc to make a BadgeDoc for my web authoring course.

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