Landing : Athabascau University

Badge trouble: piloting open badges at the Australian National University

This paper takes a look at the unexpected or hidden costs and obstacles to implementing a badging system. Essentially, the hardest part of implementing the badging system was dealing with other technical and non-technical departments, policy, procedures and law. The hurdles that are uncovered include issues such as the appearance of the badge. For example, students in the focus group wanted the badges to look 'official' and not fun or gimmicky like the badges NASA or Chicago Summer of Learning (kids summer activities) awarded. The badge had to reflect hard-work and not something fun. This point relates to an idea I've been floating around in my head that badging systems are contextualized, thus perhaps there is not a single universal badging solution. Two points to this idea.

First, the physical representation of badges will vary depending on the target group. So, kids participating in summer activities or space camp probably welcome the 'fun' and gimmicky badge, and this encourages continuous engagement. Whereas, the post-secondary students are looking for something more formal or professional in a badges appearance.

Second, as noted in ( the nature of the group or network may influence the effectiveness of the badging system. In this case, it was noted that badges perhaps were not as effective in generating social capital because group members did not really know one another. So, I wonder if the opposite is true in a group that is more tightly-knit, such as a class or cohort? Moreover, other design elements or decisions may influence the effectiveness of the badging system. In the same article, since the metrics of how badges were awarded was not released, it was speculated that members were not as interested in badges. So, perhaps how badges are implemented in a MOOC will be different from how badges are implemented in an LMS.

Continuing with the physical appearance of the badge, the marketing department was enlisted to provde guidance as to what can or cannot be used in the badge images, and also how it may be used. This required a designer to create several prototypes, and the degree to which the project team was involved with this part of the work was higher than expected.

The article continues to discuss issues with privacy around using students email addreses in the badge. The school's IT staff do not want to 'flick the switch' to turn badging on in their Moodle implementation (Wattle), because of the privacy concerns. So the research team seeks a third party vendor in the U.S. to run the badging system, but still run into privacy issues and discuss the adminstrative work arounds.


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