Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Badge System Compare and Contrast

One of my current tasks is in developing the Badge System Design challenge for the P2Pu School of Badges. This course is based around a rubric developed for badge system design. In task three of the challenge it is requested the learner reviews, compares and contrasts a number of existing badge systems, this post answers this following request from the challenge.
  1. Write a blog post or task discussion item describing what you found when exploring the different badge systems listed above. Compare and contrast the different badge systems. If you write a blog post be sure to provide the link to the post in the task discussion thread.

    • foursquare - provides a very engaging flat badge system. A great example of earning badges for simple accomplishments. In general, foursquare badges are about visiting locations. Some badges are fun accomplishments, like visiting a location of global significance. The simple graphical appeal of the badges bring a cohesiveness to the badges. The foursquare badges are not focused on accomplishing learning goals, this is not to say people would learn if they visited a museum or hardware store a number of times.
    • khan academy - provides a very comprehensive and integrated badge system. The badges are issued stealthfully when the learner completes an activity or lesson. Different scores are given for different badges, and badges are awarded for completing a number of related tasks. Khan Academy has effectively used objects in the universe (meteors, moon, earth, etc.) as the badge design theme. Badges are also grouped into programs and badges are issued for completing courses. The learning journeys associated with badge systems is not easily apparent.
    • mozilla webmaker - provides a great set of badges well aligned with their digital literacy initiative. Badges are earned stealthfully and by completing accomplishments. Their badge system is well articulated and earning pathways are easily identified. The badge design is attractive and encourages engagement and the desire to learn.
    • wikipedia - has been issuing badges (or barnstars), and should be considered one of the first online organizations to offer digital badges. Barnstars are awarded based on contribution and peer review / nomination. Most of the barnstars are stand alone and are not a part of a learning journey. Barnstars represent single accomplishments.
    • carnegie mellon robotics - provides comprehensive learning journey toward computer science use within robotics. The program includes badges awarded along the way with completed tasks. The strength with this project is the good use of learning pathways, which are easily understood.

    • compare and contrast - I believe the creation and use of learning pathways will become recognized as an important design principle when creating badge systems. These pathways can be created using traditional curriculum pathways, used during events and conferences, and by self-directed learners who are creating their own pathways. For the self-directed learner the idea of pathways aligns with personal curriculum mapping. I digress.

      Of the five badge systems above, two provide well visualized and easily understood learning pathways (mozilla webmaker & carnegie mellon robotics), one provides for ongoing learning (khan academy), and the other two are flat and provide recognition of accomplishment (foursquare & wikipedia).I believe all are successful with implementing the purpose of their badge system. I do believe the khan academy could do more with visualizing pathways for their learners for it is not immediately apparent what would be accomplished by pursuing which badges. The differences between the badge systems that support pathways and those focused on individual accomplishment show how both can be valuable in their own way, fun for the earner, have good visual appeal, and fit within the many different aspects of badge earning.