Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition | What Do We Know Now? | Volume 1

A few months back, we rolled out the Badges Competition Project Roadmap during our first grantee townhall webinar, a virtual opportunity for all 30 projects to share knowledge about designing and building their badge systems.

Why a project roadmap for grantee badge system design? No one-size-fits-all approach exists for building badge systems, but a roadmap offers useful guideposts to help thread knowledge and provide jumping-off points to spark ideas. Collaboration by difference -- especially the innovative type -- needs a blueprint that can then be adapted, tweaked, revisited, transformed, and yes -- even ignored!

We added monthly roadmap themes, goals, and references that add shape to the badge design discussion, particularly in these early stages as grantees lay the foundation for development and deployment. We also hosted a series of workshop webinars that featured projects in sprint mode who hit the ground running after learning of their awards in March at DML 2012. Leaving no stone unturned, Sunny Lee of the Mozilla Foundation and I also reached out to the 30 projects and connected them to others working on similar design challenges. In September, representatives from each project will meet face-to-face at Duke University, a roll-up-the-sleeves and get-stuff-done workshop to move design and development efforts forward.

What have we learned so far? Launching 30 badge systems in 2013 is a massive effort! We want that effort to give other badge builders ideas and lessons learned, and one of our goals is to share, share, and share what grantees discover about designing badge systems. Watch for updates from projects here on HASTAC as they document how they traverse the wild badge frontier. 

For now, most of the grantees are in the early design stages, a point that Mozilla's Carla Casilli's wrote about in Badge System Design: Standardization, Formulization, and Uniqueness:

Your early choices will help to define the evolution of your badge system. Start at any point--a single badge, a group of twenty-one, or right at the system level--but recognize that starting at the badge level may affect your ability to grow your system categorically. Regardless of where you start, it's more than likely you'll end up somewhere other than your intended destination. That's okay. Systems are living things, and your badge system by needs must be flexible. You must embrace a bit of chaos in its design. 

Several of our grantees describe this stage in blog posts, including Cliff Manning of S2R Medals who wrote about how his project took the leap: "With a complex project like this it's easy to end up staring at a project plan and to do lists forever." Cliff adds, "We believe project-based learning is the best way to learn...so what better way to learn about Open Badges than to get stuck in and build something." S2R Medals will be issuing badges to youth reporters during the 2013 Olympics in London -- sorry NBC and Sportfive, we're going with S2R for our Olympic news.

Lisa Dawley's blog post about the planning stages for Planet Stewards, a Badges Competition grantee, is another great example of how two collaborating organizations -- NOAA and 3D Gamelab --  are approaching badge system design. The topic trees, bubble maps, tree maps, and other data visualizations are +1. For anyone who geeks out on project management, you'll enjoy Lisa's mention of some of the organizational processes involved in their collaboration, a big part of badge system design that second-generation badge builders will appreciate.  

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Badges Competition Project Roadmap: Themes, Goals, and Guideposts for June-August 2012

May themes: badge system design overview, assessment, and technology
Recommended reading:

David Theo Goldberg's Threading the Needle Between Skepticism and Evangelism
Cathy Davidson's Can Badging Be the Zipcar of Testing and Assessment?
Henry Jenkins' How to Earn Your Skeptic Badge

June themes: system design, content, audiences, identity, context and other badge system design considerations.
Recommended reading:

Donella Meadows' Leverage Points (the original .pdf didn't load, so try this reference)
Carla Casilli's Open Badges & Badge System Design
Open Badges Community: Open Badges | Definition of Terms
John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid's The Social Life of Information (from Wikipedia), or click here to view the book on Amazon. 

July themes: early assessment, and technical considerations.
Recommended reading: 
 

August themes: assessment, communication, motivation, recursivity.
Recommended reading: