Thursday, November 29, 2012

The essential tasks for understanding digital badges

Over the next two weeks I will be facilitating a seminar series and two lunch-and-learns focused on understanding digital badges and how they can be deployed and issued to learners of all kinds. The seminar series will take place in SCoPE and begins on December 1st. Feel free to join in...

Over the first week I will be working through a number of tasks to help build understanding of digital badges and the resources available and required to be able to issue badges to learners (institutional and otherwise).  For an idea of the tasks feel free to review the six described here;

Task 1: The merit badge
1. Identify a merit badge you earned during your lifetime.
What did you have to do to earn it? Did you earn more than one badge? And were they awarded by the same organization?
2. Describe how you displayed the merit badge(s).
If you earned more than one badge, did you display them together? Did you display badges from different organizations together?

Task 2: The digital badge
3. Identify the digital and internet technologies best suited to create a digital merit badge.
How would you create the digital file (image) of the badge? Is it possible to keep people from copying the badge without having earned it?
4. Describe the technologies that could be used to attach (or reference) the learning to the badge.
Is there more than one way of "attaching" learning criteria to a badge? Would this criteria attribute differ from a learners evidence of fulfilling the criteria? Could a badge criteria change through time?

Blooms Rose
Task 3: Identifying the curriculum
5. Identify the completion criteria for any badge you have earned (traditional or digital).
Did you have to complete a series of tasks? Did you have to prove mastery of a skill? How was the mastery described? Was the badge knowledge based, how was the knowledge domain described as a learning criteria?
6. Describe a hierarchy or network of badges.
Does a single badges stand on its own or is it best associated with other badges? Do badges cluster in and around knowledge domains? Do badges exists in hierarchies or networks or both? What other patterns can an collection of badges exist?

Task 4: Go earn some badges already!
7. Identify a variety of sites that issue badges.
Spend some time to find two or more sites that issue badges. Are these event based badges or learning based badges? Do the badges exist on their own or are they a part of a hierarchy or network? Earn some badges and figure out how they are displayed. Were the badges easy to earn? How easily can they be displayed outside of the site where you earned the badges? Display your badges or send the link to a friend.
8. Describe the skills, knowledge and curriculum the badges represent.
Can you easily describe the criteria for earning the badges you just completed? Were they part of a bigger curriculum? Were the badges more commercially oriented? Would displaying the badges attract other to earn the badges or participate in related learning?

Task 5: Building the digital badge(s)
9. Identify the visual elements that best describe the learning represented by a specific badge. 
Does the learning represented by the badge have a de facto standard image. Are there elements of your group, team, organization or institution that also need to be part of the badge? Are there visual elements that are well suited to the badges target learners?
10. Describe the skills and knowledge required to design and create the digital badge(s).
Does your team or organization have resources familiar with creating graphics? Are the resources familiar with the design, branding and layering of images? If your badges start showing up all over the internet do they promote a strong organizational brand? Why does this matter?

Task 6: Defending the digital badge
11. Identify as many objections to digital badges your organization or group may offer that keeps them from further exploring digital badges.
Are the objections focused on current accreditation approaches and why badges shouldn't to be integrated into existing courses, programs, etc? or are they focused on areas of opportunity? Do the objections include new and emerging technologies and pedagogical approaches? or are they focused on the traditional? Where do most objections come from?
12. Describe the different ways badges can be used for the institutional learner, peer-based learner and the self-directed life-long learner.
How do the three learner types described differ when it comes to accreditation. Does each different context / environment offer different opportunities for the issue of badges? What activities outside of courses and programs offer the opportunity to issue badges? Do badges offer things other than just accreditation? How can these be leveraged? Could peer evaluations be represented by badges? Could an independent learner prove competency with a collection of related badges from different sources?

Task 7: Deploying the digital badge(s)
13. Identify the internet technologies required to deploy the digital badge(s).
Think of this in non-technical terms; do you need a location to store descriptions and images? Where / how would you store the association of a badge to each earner? Are there security or information privacy issues you need to consider? Try and describe each of these in non-technical language with as much detail as you can.
14. Describe the skills and knowledge required to develop and administer the software and technical environment required to host digital badges.
Could you be non-technical and successfully deploy digital badges? Can you find any of the self-service digital badge issuing sites? Do any of these free digital badge systems insulate the non-technical person from the technology required to issue digital badges? If technology skills and knowledge are required can they be identified?