Thoughts on Doug Belshaw’s OpenBadges videos

This is another win for my PLN. I am reviewing Doug Belshaw’s well-presented videos about OpenBadges.

Doug, as many of you know, works for Mozilla, and is one of the leading minds there on the OpenBadges initiative. Rather than performing endless F2F briefs, he created a couple of videos that outline the basics.  I want to record a few thoughts and queries as I review them.

#1. Assumptions

The one big thing I take away from this video is about badges doing whatever you want them to do. That’s kind of what I think when someone mentions an “open” framework. The mechanics and architecture are there, but the outputs can be completely customized to whatever you need.  I liken this situation to building a house.  Having shelter and living space is the key requirement, but what that looks like is entirely up to you.  There’s nothing that says your house has to have square or rectangular rooms, or even has to have straight walls.  If living in a semi-underground home works for you, go for it!

Got a house?  Get the House badge.

Got a semi-underground house? Get the Hill-dweller House badge.

Both of those examples illustrate badge needs to detail a specific achievement that can be verified.

The two powerful words there, are, “Yes, and…”

I like the fact that badges can be set to expire. In fact, I think that the majority of badges should have a best-before date, particularly so that one is forced to consider whether or not a particular achievement or skill is still relevant.  (e.g. “Sure, I’m a Microsoft Certified Trainer, but that was 10 years ago. Is it still worth showing off?”).  Red Cross First Aid certificates are an excellent example of something that demands regular refresh.

#2. Design Basics

I appreciate this step-by-step procedure around the design process. I think there are a lot of people who don’t know where to start and this should be required reading/viewing.

Doug’s reminder about granularity is a very important one, and it applies to more things than just badging.  We often try to go “too big” with many of our learning solutions (particularly online ones). I like this incremental approach. However, I think there’s a potential downside in having “too many” badges.  I guess my question is, “where’s the tipping point?”  Of course, as I ponder this, maybe the solution comes back to the Behaviours, Skills, and Attitudes you want to recognize, and making a granularity decision on what really needs to be acknowledged with a badge.

The real ye-opener is around organization of the badges.  I admit this was something to which I had given no thought at all, but it adds another layer to the interpretation, and, dare I say, “curation” of the badges. It provides a different context and could possibly be extended (this is my interpretation) so that the badge holder could organize their badges in a way they see fit, while still maintaining the integrity of any relationships between or across badges.

He also wraps up with a really good reminder of the iterative nature of badging.  We all know what happens when people move heaven & earth to get “Widgets 1.0” out to the users, and the victory is so Pyrrhic, that nobody wants to so much as mention “Widgets 2.0” for fear of being pilloried by their peers on the 1.0 team.  This one aspect of badging may prove to be the most challenging to maintain.  It will be interesting to watch the evolution.

I am profoundly grateful to Doug for these videos.  My understanding has increased exponentially.

About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in badge, commentary, ideas, MOOC, OLDS, personal development, PLN, professional development, reflection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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