DML Ignite – Badges (Funny 4)

by P

Erin and I are doing a whole range of things at the upcoming Digital Media and Learning conference. Including, maybe, what they call an ignite talk. Here is our proposal (which I can’t take credit for – besides a short conversation in the back of a NY Cab). I look forward to creating some “vivid and personal imagery” – if the talk gets accepted. They also asked us if we were funny (on a scale from 1 to 5) and Erin scored us a 4 (but said we could be 5 if we wanted to).

In today’s world learning can look very different than traditionally imagined. Learning is not just ‘seat time’ within schools, but extends across multiple contexts, experiences and interactions. It is no longer just an isolated or individual concept, but is social, informal, participatory, creative and lifelong. And yet, in the current formal education and accreditation systems, much of this learning is ignored or missed entirely. We are exploring badges as a way to support and acknowledge learning that occurs across broader connected learning ecologies so that this learning can become part of the conversation in hiring decisions, school acceptances or credits, mentoring opportunities and even self-evaluations. Badges can be used to motivate learning, signify community and signal achievement across contexts and the collection of badges can tell a more complete story of an individual. In this talk, we will present a number of user stories that demonstrate learning and interaction occurring outside of formal channels, such as an afterschool program, a local artist community, on-the-job experience and/or open education courses, and highlight the breakdown between that learning and the transference and translation across contexts, including the broader education and career ecosystems. Using vivid and personal imagery, we will help the audience connect with these learners and their needs, and then demonstrate how badges can enable each learner to capitalize on the learning experiences that they are already having, inspire and help them to seek out new ones and communicate their achievements and skills to necessary stakeholders. We also plan to take photos of attendees earning badges at the Drumbeat Science Fair on Wednesday evening, and will use those images at the end to help tie the concept and value of badges back to very real and relevant experiences that many will have just had. This talk will illustrate the conceptual framework for badges, drive home the need and potential for this alternative system and help more people get excited about working on these issues together.