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Crowdsourcing Improved Convo About Badges

Crowdsourcing Convo about Badges

What I love about the folks at Mozilla is that, when there is controversy, instead of running away from the problem or burying it, they run towards it with open arms and open the very topic of the controversy to the community, with an open invitation (community is defined openly too) to contribute.  Where there is controversy, something important is at stake and people are willing to commit energy to discussing it.  That helps lead the way to better ideas, better solutions.  

That energy is crucial to participatory openness.   People can continue to critique, but the part of the Open Web that, to me, is revolutionary, is the turn from thinking to doing, the transformation from criitque to improvement, the move from theory to changed practice.  There's an open invitation to those providing the informed and well-intentioned critique.  The premises go something like this:  we love your critique, you are smart, we see that you are invested enough to take time to write a critique (as opposed to being bored to death and simply not interested), and, because of your interest, we invite your participation to make it better! 


No one has to participate.   But, if you want to participate, the process is open so you can contribute better ideas to the work and the world we are shaping together.    Would that the whole world work that way!  This isn't head-in-the-cloud idealism but practical building, tinkering or "thinkering" it is sometimes called, with a resolution to improve the present state of things.  It's goal is betterment, not utopic (i.e. pure but unobtainable) perfection. Compromise can be involved.  Sometimes you get voted down.  But you don't give up.  You try another way, and sometimes it works out pretty darn well.  Better than what existed before.   Imagine if government and formal education used this method--the method of the open, participatory building, development, learning--to solve problems together?

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Here is Matt Thompson addressing concerns from community member Doug Belshaw, writing on Matt Thompson's Open Matt blog over at Mozilla, and addressing a recent problem with the "Open Badges Elevator Speech":   


Doug Belshaw, for example, makes a great point about trying to clarify a fuzzy part of the story on

We’ve got the learner stories, all the stuff on the Mozilla wiki and some great blog posts and articles.

Are we missing a coherent ‘elevator pitch’ here that catches (some of) the nuance between credentialising achievement and ‘assessment’?

Sounds like a good idea. The Open Badges concept is meant to be bottom-up, peer-to-peer, and aimed at making assessment and recognition a lot more transparent, social and participatory. But that may not be coming across clearly enough on the front page. <Doug & others: care to help fix that?>


To me, the important part of this exchange is this: " <Doug & others: care to help fix that?>"

What an amazing invitation.  Problem?  Instead of papering it over, invite the person who presented the problem "and others" and all publicly to "help fix that."   In other words, if there is a problem, invite those who are best able to see the problem and care most about it to participate in the act of lessening the problem.  That hardly ever happens in society or in academe.   We have learned a system where you critique and then think your job is done.  Or you critique and then are ostracized as a "trouble maker."   


Critique is essential for any system or it stagnates.   But critique is an intermediary step on the way to participatory contributive  connected "learning the future together."      When we say that we founded HASTAC to apply the lessons of the Open Web to formal and informal learning, especially in higher education, this is what we mean!

By the way, as an "other" reading about Open Badges on the Open Matt blog, I decided to contribute.  Here's what I wrote:

The Open Badges concept is meant to be bottom-up, peer-to-peer, and aimed at making assessment and recognition a lot more transparent, social and participatory.”

Here’s another key: When a network or organization decides that current systems of recognizing contribution are not fulfilling the needs of the people who make up that network or organization, a badge system is open, unfixed, flexible, and modifiable and can be peer-constructed as an exercise to engage all an institution’s members in thinking about what it wants to credit and why. It’s a fantastic exercise, in other words, in institutional self-reflection, self-evaluation.

My big “Now You See It” lesson is that, until we go through this preliminary step of thinking deeply together about who and what we are, who we want to be, what matters to us, why, and why it is important to know who contributes to our network and how, then we cannot even think about moving forward in open, innovative new directions.

The problem with an inherited system–whatever that system is: it comes with parameters already defined. To me, the most important thing about this badge experiment is it is an opportunity for a community to explore and understand what its own parameters are.

Not exactly an elevator speech . . . but crucial!"



Here's the chain::

Like it?  Dislike it?  <HASTAC Scholars and Community Members & Others:  care to help fix that?>



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