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Remaining Questions 1 T. Dousay Dr. Peck indicated that students are currently paying for a degree, do you think this will simply be exchanged for purchasing badges? What can we do to safegaurd this?What learners will be paying for is a very interesting topic!  Most learners currently pay for a lot more than they use.  Some pay for classes even thought they already know much of what is in them, and/or even though the learning comes more from their work with other students than with the professor.  Badges would create units within a course, each of which could be considered separately, and then together in a requirement for synthesis and application, as appropriate.  Then a learner who has mastered three of five topics in a course might not need to pay for a full course - just for the components that had not yet been mastered.  (If that makes you uncomfortable, think of them as several one-credit courses collected into a multi-credit course.  Learners are also paying for the parking lots, gardeners, (some) athletic teams, the library, and other things that other providers of learning experiences may not feel the need to recover costs for.  These organizations will be able to provide the learning experience at a lower cost.  a lot of what we currently "teach" people can be learned by people on their own or with peer support.  This content should (and will) be made available to learners at no cost.  Then universities can focus on the more difficult skill development, application and synthesis -- and charge students for these services.  As for safeguarding universities, it is tempting to think that way, but we need to resist the temptation to do so, because it will cause us to focus on the wrong goals and face the same fate as Blockbuster, Kodak, Borders, and others -- demise by disruptive innovations.  To ensure our survival we need to ask what learners and their employers will need from us and provide that.  The good news is that by doing so we'll solve several problems at once.  Education will cost less, will take less time, will focus on higher order tasks measured well, and will be accessible to more people.  (I could go on, but that would be best handled as another conversation.)Right now, the focus seems to be on enticing learners/recipients to earn badges (evidenced by beautifully designed badges, easy to earn badges, and a trend towards lots of badges for small things instead of fewer badges for large things). The danger here is that this will dilute the credibility of badges to the broader community that seeks to evaluate a badge recipient's skills. How should we work around this problem?Good point.  Not all badges are or will be created equal.  I think of badging as "micro-credentialing."  That is not to say that each of the grains has to be small, but rather that information is available on each of the important the components that comprise a larger capability.  That larger capability can also be represented by a badge, and that badge has more value.  That "mega-badge" can provide evidence that the component badges have been earned and that the learner has synthesized the content in the smaller badges and that the learning had been applied outside the classroom.  Just as instructional designers understand the different types of cognitive learning outcomes and understand the need to develop objectives and assessments that are appropriate for outcomes at different levels (using the hierarchy of your choice), it seems appropriate to have badges that represent learning at different levels.  Badges that represent higher levels will be considered more valuable by an employer, but as an instructional designer I understand that the lower level badges represent foundational or prerequisite learning, and that they are necessary but not sufficient for capable performance.  However these lower-level badges can serve multiple functions, as documentation of what was valued, learned, demonstrated, and assessed, and as markers of progress for learners who are on a long path to a desired set of knowledge and abilities. As Kyle Bowen said, learners won't show all of their badges at any given time.  they will select appropriate badges, often the highest level badges, that have lower-level badges beneath them.  And, they will describe why those badges are relevant to the employment they seek.By the way, the beauty of a badge might be interpreted as an enticement or motivation (and with many badges that may be true), but a badge's beauty might be viewed as demonstrating respect for the value of what has been learned -- an image that is worthy, given the accomplishment.  I pay attention to the quality of the badges for the latter reason, to convey to the viewer, employer, and owner that the value warranted good design.How would people know where to choose to get these "high quality" badges from? Do you envision a list somewhere?I envision an "" interface, through which a learner can see options and sort the list by any of a number of factors, such as badge holders' ratings, price, time to complete, issuers' ratings, etc.  This implies the presence of an aggregator like that would serve as a clearinghouse.  An interesting vision is offered by Bill Sams in his EPIC 2020 video.  As I mentioned during the session, professional associations might also place their "Seals of approval" on certain badges.For graduate school, universities usually use standardized tests to set a minimum bar for student applicants, and more detailed info (statement of purpose, portfolio, etc.) to determine which specific students to extend offers to. Do you think badges will be more like the former (quick metadata on a student that shows they are qualified) or the latter (detailed info that sets a student apart from his/her peers)?I see badges as more like the latter -- the detailed information on what makes each student special, or attractive.  I see the minimal score on a test as a common prerequisite.  Although one could issue a badge for attaining a certain score or above on a test, as Kyle Bowen said, that would be a "really lame badge."  If we wanted to unpack the content of the GRE, and create badges for the different types of items incorporated in the test and then indicate which a given candidate had mastered within the overall score, then we would be making badges more useful in that context and would be making the score more meaningful.
by T. Dousay
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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