My MOOC Badges
After I joined the Hyperlinked Library MOOC I familiarised myself with the online environment: I set up a blog, deleted the template post and page and published my first post. I joined a number of ‘tribes’ and befriended some of the people I’ve ‘met’ elsewhere, such as on Twitter.
I received email alerts which informed me that I had been awarded a badge for many of these activities: for Joining a Tribe; Sending a Friendship Request; Accepting a Friendship Request and Update my MOOC avatar. I also received an Update your MOOC avatar badge for collecting five badges!
Are these useful ways of publicly acknowledging active participation in a MOOC? Or do they undermine the learning process by rewarding trivial tasks? I have to admit that I felt the system was patronising me when I received a badge for deleting a blog post and updating my avatar, which was compounded with the badge for completing five other simple tasks.
I wrote about my initial reaction on my UK Web Focus blog.It seems that others agreed with my doubts. @CogDog commented that “I echo the cynicism of micro badging for every possible task; I would go beyond and find it revolting and demeaning“. John Paschoud reflected on the badges he received as a child but concluded that as an adult “I can manage the rest of my life entirely without any ‘badges’ that I get from websites – especially the ones focused on online democratic participation or IT ‘skills’. Your cynicism about them is entirely appropriate!” However Margaret (a fellow student on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC described how she is “the classmate who commented on basically being intrinsically motivated and ‘surprised’ (to say the least) at the little thrill of pleasure acquiring a badge gave me. I am not without my skepticism, but am currently enjoying it“. Margaret went on to add that “I know there is great controversy about badges, and I agree with CogDog and others that to really be worthy, badges should indicate that some significant learning has taken place“.
I felt it important to document my initial reaction when I received the MOOC badges as I was confident that I would not be alone in having such concerns. However I was also aware that others would appreciate receiving acknowledgements of their initial engagement with the MOOC environment.In addition one’s initial reaction may change in light of subsequent experiences and discussion with others. Since learning through interaction with others has a key role to play in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC I am providing some further thoughts on possible strengths and weakness of badges.
User benefits:Badges can provide motivation for learners, by providing tangible and public evidence of progress through a learning environment,
User concerns: Badges may be regarded as trivial and irrelevant to deeper learning.
Organiser benefits: Organisers of learning environments which make provide badges can have an overview of progress through tools which monitor awarding of badges.
Organiser concerns: Learners may regard badge awards as of intrinsic value in themselves, rather than as proxy display of progress.
Benefits and concerns for other interested parties: Potential employers may be able to use badges as an indication of the skills and expertise of applicants. However if this becomes widely accepted, employers will need to be wary of how badges can be ‘gamed’ or fake badge credentials used.
I welcome comments on these thoughts.
Whilst writing this post I looked at a number of online resources. Whilst this isn’t intended to provide an authoritative bibliography of relevant resources, I thought it would be useful to others if I were to share the resources I found. I’d welcome suggestions of additional relevant resources.
- MOOC Badging and the Learning Arc, Simon Cross and Rebecca Galley, 16 Nov 2012, http://www.olds.ac.uk/blog/moocbadgingandthelearningarc
- Digital badges, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_badges
- Mozilla Open Badges, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Open_Badges
- Mozilla Launches Open Badges 1.0, A New Standard to Recognize and Verify Online Learning and Education, Rip Empson, TechCrunch, 14 March 20-13, http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/14/mozilla-launches-open-badges-1-0-a-new-standard-to-recognize-and-verify-online-learning-and-education/
- Badges – New Currency for Professional Credentials, MOOC, https://badges.coursesites.com/