A reason that could contribute to so many of the badge systems around looking quite similar, is that badge designers don't have many references to work from. It isn't practical for badge designers or software developers to all become assessment experts. I'm going to make an attempt to present an example about how badges could add structure to the discussion of assessment and provide a shared language for communication among assessment experts, content providers and technology implementers. This is part of a conversation with Dan Hickey in the comment section of his post, "Some Things about Assessment that Badge Developers Might Find Helpful."
When a badge is issued it breaks the assessment process into three distinct phases:
1 - assessment activity: how the assessment data was collected
2 - assessment data: the data captured by the badge
3 - assessment reporting: the display and analysis of badges
Let's see how this structure can be useful in communicating about assessment issues by taking a look at Dan Hickey's post from October 2009, "Positioning Portfolios for Participation". Here is my preliminary attempt to take Dan's discussion of portfolios and define a reference badge system that could be used by designers and implementers as a piece in constructing their own badge systems. This is the kind of approach that tech folks generallly like to use to address these sorts of design issues. I'll be especially interested to hear what assessment researchers think.
The Portfolio Badge System
Description: The Portfolio Badge System is especially useful in a context where learners are constructing or building as part of their learning experience. Artifacts support participation because they are where learners apply what they are learning to something personally meaningful. The badge system archives the learners' artifacts so that they are easily accessed and reused. The portfolio of artifacts is not itself graded, since that often leads to a portfolio that is more representative of (a) the specificity of the guidelines, (b) their ability to follow those guidelines, and (c) the amount of feedback they get from the instructor. The portfolio is instead positioned to support reflection. Instead of grading the actual artifacts that learners create, any accountability should be associated with learner reflection on those artifacts.
- Artifact Badges - Issued by learners
- Activity - learners create artifact (i.e. quest in Quest Atlantis’ Taiga world, remix of Moby Dick or Huck Finn, writing assignments)
- Data - a description of the artifact written by the learner with the artifact as evidence
- Report - a portfolio created by the learner that collects and presents a group of artifacts
- Reflection Badges - Issued by teachers
- Activity - Based on the provided Really Big Ideas (RBI's) and associated rubrics, learners write how their artifact (a) illustrates the concept behind the RBI, (b) the consequences of the RBI for practice, and (c) what critiques others might have of this characterization of the RBI
- Data - The grade with the written reflection as evidence
- Report - A display of all artifact and reflection badges for that learner on a timeline