"I’m excited that next week the judges will be listening to the “pitches” and then determining the winners of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition. Immediately after, will be the opening of what promises to be the best Digital Media and Learning Conference yet, “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World” (to be held in San Francisco, March 1-3, 2012). I’m thrilled about both of these showcases for new learning innovation. But I have a confession to make: when I first began learning about badges, I was skeptical. I was afraid that, rather than taking us “beyond educational technology,” badges would throw our passionate digital learning community into yet another morass of over-priced tech. I worried that we’d be adding to the array of gadgets being thrown at educators, parents, and, worst of all, kids in the world of formal and informal learning. I’m now a convert (perhaps even an evangelist) for peer-driven badging systems as an alternative to some of the rigid, limited, standardized forms of evaluation but my initial apprehensions help me empathize with those serious, innovative educators (and they are out there) who shudder at the idea. Far too many digital snake-oil salesmen promise the cures for all current educational woes with some faster, better (and more expensive) online tool. No wonder educators have their guard up!
"So let’s get rid of the over-hyped claims first. Counteracting over-stated claims by ed tech manufacturers with some real learning science and learning sense is one motivation behind this year’s Conference. Let’s just say it: badging will not solve every woe of the deplorable current state of standardized testing and assessment. It won’t. It just won’t."