Blog Post

What If We Could Build a Badge System From Scratch? Let's Measure What Matters!

Most of the systems we have in place for measuring, credentialing, and assessing education are about productivity, output, grading, ranking, and creating hierarchies from the top scoring learners to the bottom in order to reward the one and punish the other.  That is not surprising since most of the systems we use today--grading, ranking, IQ tests, and multiple choice tests--were invented between about 1875 and 1915, in the great era of Taylorism and "scientific labor management" when the goal was to quantify how much a worker contributed.  So with our inherited assessment systems.  They were designed to "scientifically" (which is to say quantitatively) measure and rank learning.   


What if we could do it all over again?   From scratch.   What if we really thought about all the different features of learning--what we value, how we value it, and all the different ways how we learn and what we learn contributes to individuals, communities, societies, and the work place?  What if we tried to do that fresh, not building on inheritances and on legacy Machine Age systems but thinking about what we want now?



Our two-years of work on badging systems is exactly an attempt to do this.   But it is hard to see how badges are different without first seeing what exists now, what it is founded upon, what assumptions and values present systems tacitly or overtly embrace.   So, to get us started on building an assessment system that works for us now, doing it with a clean slate, Sheryl Grant, Director of Social Networks for HASTAC and the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, has put together a Public DRAFT Google Doc that anyone can review and comment upon to get us started at designing a new, better system.


"Measuring What Matters:  Designing a New Credential and Assessment System from Scratch" can be found here:    Check it out.  We'd love to hear what you think.


It's a fantastic exercise.   If it sounds familiar, it is because Sheryl is remixing a document I began last week called "What If We Could Build Higher Education from Scratch?"    As with the badges exercise, this is profoundly deconstructive:  you can see where you want to go by taking apart all the elements of what you have taken for granted.  Try it!   It's a revelation.  And the process of un-learning the system we've inherited then let's us see the better one we want to design for the future, not as some feeble attempt to preserve the past.   I


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