Badge Learning Stories

I’m participating in a collaborative conversation about the possibilities of Mozilla’s proposed Open Badge project, and was inspired their call for imagined scenarios within our fields of interest. (Also inspired by Andy Duckworth‘s example; thanks again, Andy!) These two accounts are entirely fictitious, and are meant as an extended imagining of how these badges might play out. Enjoy!
Scene 1:
Carmen Pulido started taking piano lessons when she was seven, but taught herself to play the guitar. When the bass player for her fledgling garage band moved to South Carolina, Carmen started teaching herself bass. And shortly thereafter, as the Nilla Woofers ran through a song that sounded depressingly like their last one, she had an epiphany and realized that what she really needed was someone with a knack for arranging. “I bet there’s a badge for that!” said her tech-savvy friend and lyricist Gigi. So they hit up Facebook, and sure enough, the lead vocalist of a band they’d heard and liked on Radcast had an arranger badge posted in his public backpack. They clicked through to the issuing org, and discovered that of the 456 “Stave Master” badges posted that year, 23 were in New Jersey. Now all they had to do was post a badge-ad and start figuring who might be their best fit.
Scene 2:
Alan Brightman had developed a reputation for genius in the kitchen. His swimming teammates had credited his pre-meet power smoothies with at least one win. And whenever the going got tough — for example, when midterms rolled around — Alex’s response was to break out the measuring cups and bake up a storm. As Alex’s senior year of high school and its attendant stresses approached, he looked at his school’s elective course offerings and thought for the 100th time that what he really wanted to learn about was food. And then he noticed the paragraph on independent study, which had somehow never caught his eye before. “Any junior or senior student wishing to propose a course which would count as an independent study must first find a faculty member who is willing to serve as a mentor and sponsor to them for the duration of the semester in which the course is proposed.” Unfortunately, the application deadline was only two weeks away, and school wasn’t even in session yet. Alex remembered that when his friend Carl had been thinking about taking flying lessons last year, he had used the school’s Learning Community Portfolio portal to find an adult with a pilot’s license who he could reach out to with questions. Alex wondered if the faculty section of the Learning Community site would display the public badges of Upper School teachers. He logged in and started poking around, wishing that the search function was a little more intuitive. Okay, here was one teacher with a barbecue badge… kind of basic, but cause for hope… Alex kept scrolling…
In my work as an academic matchmaker, I work with some students who have not yet found their “tribes” as learners. For me, one of the exciting aspects of the Open Badge project is the possibilities for transparency.
“Transparency means showing others what’s going on inside so that people can be attracted to what you do.” Douglas Rushkoff,

Image credit: photo used via cc license; detail, someone worked REALLY HARD, by rocket ship)


Posted on August 26, 2011, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great stories! I like the way you illustrate the self-directed learning/peer mentoring potential of the badge project!

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