Open Thinkering


#openbadges – Learner Stories

Over at I’m co-ordinating a ‘semester of learning’ on Mozilla’s upcoming Open Badges framework. This past week we’ve been looking at ‘learner stories’, scenarios for using badges to credentialise learning. Here’s my (fictional) attempt to explain how badges could work in the contexts with which I’m familiar.

Sarah with guitar

Sarah: recognition for extra-curricular learning

Sarah is a 15 year-old pupil in an average English secondary school. As a pupil on the ‘gifted and talented’ list,  she is working towards 14 GCSEs, including the English Baccalaureate subjects. Her passion, however, is music. She is a guitarist in a newly-formed band, something her parents and schoolteachers deem a distraction from her studies.

Recently, Sarah’s desire to spend more time writing and recording music has come into conflict with her studies. She has started to dabble in music production, but knows that to get a qualification in this area will probably have to wait.

How badges help:

Hearing of a new project using badges to credentialise learning in the music production arena, Sarah talks to her tutor and parents and the next parent/teacher evening about her passion for music. Because there is a way to credentialise it, her parents and tutor are happy with her dropping one of her GCSEs to free up time to pursue music production.

Within a few months, Sarah has her Music Production 101 badge. Realising she has module exams coming up, she decides to focus solely on her schoolwork for a month, then goes back to work on a badge that has been custom-made for her by a local producer: Producing kick-ass guitar music.

Sarah’s other band members begin to take on her ideas much more as she can talk knowledgeably about how something will sound as they are writing. Her teachers and parents notice she is happier in and with school, and notice an increase in Sarah’s confidence.

The result:

Badges provide a way to show parents and teachers the value of particular topic/subject/interest. In a world of high-stakes testing, badges allow for the credentialisation of passions, interests, and curiosities.

CC BY-NC rachel sian

5 thoughts on “#openbadges – Learner Stories

  1. Interesting example Doug. Do you see this mainly as extension for ‘gifted and takented’ pupils, or could you see cases for those not excelling in the current system?

  2. Doug, do you think a system like this could work within a school environment to reward students who develop individual talents or passions? Or do you think that it will work best in an informal, out of school learning context? The issue about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation is interesting, as is the potential for ‘gaming’ the system. This has certainly given me lots of food for thought.

    1. I’d struggle to think of a context in which it *wouldn’t* work, if implemented thoughtfully!
      Care has to be taken, I think, not to replicate existing structures. That’s why the peer-to-peer voting / recognition / awarding intrigues me. :-)

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