I seem to get involved into many #openbadges discussions on Twitter lately. A while back I wrote on my blog about this topic. I think it was quite well-balanced, acknowledging the positive points but also having so
me questions. I sent the mail to one of the leads in openbadges as well and got a useful reply, albeit referring to reactions to earlier critical posts here and here. Both sources raise similar points, which is comforting but doesn’t get me closer to a possible answer. The rest could have been for the Google Group. Well, I didn’t go there, as I had just written an extensive post. The final line in the reply (see below the first post) was : “intrinsic/extrinsic is *itself* merely a construct, and the recognition of which badges are valuable is an emergent property of the ecosystem.” Later on I had to mail. Well, I did that, so I think that ended with ‘We agree to disagree’ (well, I agreed ;-)).
The discussion came to the front again when I was included in this tweet:
This point was one of the points raised on Twitter and also in the aforementioned blogpost. I never really got an answer. Retracing the discussion on twitter it seemed to have started with a a link to a post called “Let’s ban the sticker, stamp and star” and then a comment that OpenBadges were much different because they were ‘intrinsic’ and stickers ‘extrinsic’. I don’t agree, both have both sides, if we can even see it that black and white. Badges are issued (http://openbadges.org/issue/). Stickers are issued. Badges are earned, stickers are earned. My point is that I don’t agree with the fact they are presented as a lot different. Of course the scale differs. And it’s online in the cloud, so those are all positive points. But different with regard to motivation, I don’t think so.Badges can be another tool in the vocabulary of teachers and students, but like any tool they can be used in good and bad ways. Potential? Sure. But stickers had potential too! 😉
The point on having 1000s of them and ‘control’ over them came up as well; it actually was the topic of the tweet ‘that started it all’. The answer would be ‘metadata’. Well, I wasn’t talking about how you are going to find the badge(s) you want, I was talking about the way the value of badges is determined.
(Note: it was pointed out that metadata is more than just information on location, but also a pointer to criteria and evidence:
Fair enough. But that wasn’t the point, the point was that metadata -in my opinion- will not ‘solve’ the institutional issue. How can we evaluate these criteria and evidence between badges? What if there are 1001 Algebra 101 badges from different institutions? Or someone makes his/her own badge? It’s nice that an individual has an overview of his/her badges, but how can this be useful in the workplace? I worry that it will be just as hard and difficult as before with CV’s, but looking slightly different. Suggesting that OpenBadges will change this is wishful thinking.)
It also has been suggested that that too is “the recognition of which badges are valuable is an emergent property of the ecosystem.”. To me, that sounds like market thinking, but worded differently. Just like ‘the market’ it will depend on the user how much he/she values the badge. Just like the fact that this is pretty hard to do when it comes to cars, houses or insurances, this -in my opinion- will be even harder for educational goals. Does this mean I won’t have anything to do with them? No. I’ve added a Justin Bieber badge to my developer Blog, worked in Moodle with them (in combination with SCORM) and even added them as an experiment to a forthcoming European project (that I will hopefully get, not sure yet). I will keep on thinking about this, hopefully encountering more valid viewpoints than “do your homework” and “shakes head”.