What Counts as Learning: Open Digital Badges for New Opportunities

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What Counts as Learning: Open Digital Badges for New Opportunities is a free publication available here: http://dmlhub.net/publications/what-counts-learning Open digital badges are simple tools that have the potential to change our current system of credentialing, creating ways to recognize more diverse learning pathways and opportunities for both learners and institutions for generations to come. How, then, do we go about building on this potential? How do we design relevant, innovative, and transformative badge systems that connect people’s multiple spheres of learning and link them to new opportunities? This research is an early response to designing badge systems grounded in actual practice. It provides a building block for anyone interested in designing open digital badge systems, and also for educators, policymakers, technologists, humanists, scholars, and administrators who have a stake in how badge systems might impact learning, assessment, and opportunities for lifelong learners.

Text of What Counts as Learning: Open Digital Badges for New Opportunities

  • 1. Mozilla Open Badges Community CallWednesday, November 19, 2014http://etherpad.badgealliance.org/CCNov19

2. What are the three most important things you would share with anotherorganization just getting started? What are the three main challenges to widespread adoption of your badge systemfor your organization? What are three things have you learned about badge system design? What would you do differently if you were to start over? 3. Building the team Average core team size was roughly 5 to 6people. Teams were as large as 10 people, especiallyfor those with content and multimediaexperts, and for those who built custom-designedbadge systems. Choose your team wisely. 4. Who are my stakeholders? Stakeholders will define the boundaries ofyour system. Every stakeholder group represents aboundary that must be navigated and crossed. Dont skip the process of identifyingstakeholders, no matter how tempting it maybe to do so. 5. Teachers are stakeholders Engage teachers and faculty as co-creators inthe design of the system. Train teachers first, and well, and make thistraining an ongoing process. Think carefully how teachers will be involvedin the badge-issuing process. 6. Find a common language Identify terminology specific to badges. Make sure everyone working on the systemcan understand the language of badges. Communicating design ideas from contentexperts to design experts to programmingexperts is hard. Have early conversations with the webdevelopment team. 7. Explain badges early Give all of your stakeholders time to becomefamiliar with the concept of badges. Get started before the badge system designprocess begins. Create a shared understanding among anyonewho will have a stake in the system. Develop strong stories about how badgeswork. 8. Design for relevance Map your badges to whatever yourcommunity finds valuable. Ask your learners what they value avoidassumptions as much as possible. Same for other stakeholders, including faculty,administrators, and external stakeholders. Think early about data. What can your badgesystem tell you? 9. Build external partnerships Build value and relevance at the beginning ofthe design process. Define your trust network. Think hard about what gives your badgesweight with external stakeholders. 10. Trust networks Answer the so what? question. Have meaningful answers that go beyondbadges as an aspect of a learners identity. Foster the collective belief in the value of yourbadges. 11. Iterative design Fail fast. Put all aspects of the system in harms wayand test with real users. Release smaller parts first instead of bigchunks. Engage all users in the design process early. 12. Learning pathways Designing learning pathways is more complexthan developing curricula and defining courserequirements. Create shared assessment criteria so thatbadges can be connected between differentprograms. Align badges to standards where possible. Think about tagging badges so others can findthem. 13. User experience Check your assumptions about navigation! The system will fail if you dont get this right. A clunky platform will make understanding,earning, and sharing badges difficult. Without a seamless user experience, learnersmay not even share their badges. 14. Visual design Do not underestimate the design elements ofthe badges. Simpler designs are better. Think how badges will display on differentscreen sizes. Distinguish single-lesson achievements frommore significant achievements. 15. Number and type of badges Experiment early. Start small. Keep things simple. Consider using other features to increaseengagement and chart progress. Carefully consider learning outcomes andvalues. 16. Badge system technology Hire the most experienced programmerspossible. Focus early and hard on the technical side ofbadge system design. Prepare for complex technical challenges ifyou are integrating with legacy systems. 17. Questions?