It's not easy to write about badges -- they touch on so many social norms that we take for granted, and that means unpacking assumptions about things like assessment, credentials, and accreditation -- but Paul Fain knocked it out of the park with his latest article about the UC-Davis Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Badge System in Insider Higher Ed:
The University of California at Davis is creating what may be higher education’s most promising digital badge system. But the badges are no threat to the university’s degrees. They’re add-ons – perhaps valuable ones for students.
“Badges can tell a different story,” says Joanna Normoyle, the experiential and digital media learning coordinator at the university’s Agricultural Sustainability Institute. She says they allow students to “differentiate themselves and tell a narrative.”
Normoyle has helped lead the effort by faculty and staff members at UC-Davis to create a badging system for a new undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The final product, which went live with a small pilot group this fall, is more about competency-based education than alternative credentials.
The idea was hatched as the university worked toward the 2011 launch of the sustainable ag major. It’s an ambitious interdisciplinary program, featuring collaboration among eight departments in the university’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences as well as the Agricultural Sustainability Institute.
Other articles that do a nice job summarizing the UC-Davis systems include A Future Full of Badges in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and Using Badges to Quantify Learning Outcomes at UC Davis in EdCetera.