Badges?!? Do We Need Any Stinking Badges?!??

This post was originally written as a response to Kyle M. Jones’ posting on TheCorkboard.org entitledDigital Learning and Badges in which he calls for greater discussion around using “badges” to certify student learning online. Here is my response:


Everything I’ve heard is that badges are designed to take the place of the diploma– but a diploma is just a way for an educational institution to confer its reputation upon an individual who has successfully proven mastery of content. The whole system is based on faith that the institution knows what mastery looks like, and it has done due diligence to ensure that its graduates have mastered the skills. While employers couldn’t actually see evidence of what students learned, they trusted the judgement of the learning professionals who “supposedly know these things”.

So the question that badges are meant to answer, I think, is
“How can an employer believe that you’ve mastered content if there’s no accredited institution willing to put their reputation on the line to say that you did”?

Even if a site gives you a badge– does it really mean that somebody has done the due diligence to ensure that you really learned your stuff? If the answer is no– badges will become useless right quick.
The only answer I can give for that is if you have an ePortfolio of mastery-level work to show them. You can say that you know HTML5, you can have a badge that says “Mozilla thinks you know HTML5”, and/or you can build a website that shows your well-rounded understanding of HTML5. Which would you trust more?

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