Lots of great content about badges found its way online this month. Two must-read posts are Sunny Lee's decision map for folks who are n00bophytes to Open Badges and Peter Rawthorne's excellent step-by-step reflections on planning and implementing a badge system for open education resources (OER). Peter writes on his blog that his goal is to inspire adult learners, and Peter? You're doing it.
Likewise, over at Radiowaves, home of Badges Competition grantee S2R Medals, Cliff Manning perfectly captures the "where-do-we-start" thinking for badge system designers, "With a complex project like this it's easy to end up staring at a project plan and to-do lists forever." People who get project-based learning for youth tend to get, well, project-based learning for adults. 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..."
Based on the conversations that Sunny Lee, Partner/Product Lead for Mozilla's Open Badges, and I have had with other funded Badges Competition teams, that go- forth-and-learn esprit seems to be alive and well. Many of the projects expect to pilot a first wave of their badge systems by the end of summer, in time for our first workshop for grantees this fall here at Duke University. We don't have a master blueprint for building badge systems, making the phrase "there are no mistakes, only lessons" an actual reality.
As to my own learning, I've found the bouncing back and forth between the twin pillars of technical systems and social systems to be endlessly enlightening, especially given the thick concepts at the heart of badge system design: validation, credibility, reputation, assessment, motivation, learning, agency. On his blog, Peter asked: How do you determine if a badge is genuine? If you pull the threads to that deceptively simple question, they lead to many of the conversations that make badges such a rich and complex topic.
How do you build a badge system? is like asking How do you build a vehicle with wheels? It depends on what you want the vehicle to do, who will drive it, in what environment will it roll, and to what end. How you build a badge system also depends on the people systems working collaboratively across time and distance, and we're just as interested in the organizational approaches to badge design as the technical.
Sunny and I are talking to the rest of the teams over the next few weeks to get a sense of how projects are approaching the work ahead, looking for common ground among grantees, and identifying knowledge that, once it starts to flow through our network, will become an important momentum for getting badges plugged into the open badges ecosytem.