The pay-off is in the process

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2016-12-01-kl-12-49-22When we talk about badges, we usually focus on the end product, the ready-made badge, and its value for the earner. We stress the demand for quality and recognition. For an organisation that is new in the Badges world this may seem too big a challenge.

I would like to highlight a “pay-off” that comes much earlier in the process, in fact as soon as we start creating a badge. The beneficiaries are the badge developers themselves and their institution and the value is independent from whether or not the badge will become a success with potential earners.
Here comes a brief report from a new-born badge project at Folkuniversitetet in Sweden.

It is amazing how a handful of small images can trigger pedagogical creativity in a group of experienced teacher trainers and ICT resource persons.

The agenda for a 2-days meeting said something like ”Staff training for Moodle: aims, target groups, levels, contents, materials”; severeal pages of course descriptions were attached. In other words: A real energy-killer. And a bit unfair on colleagues who have travelled hundreds of kilometres for the meeting.
What to do?

I made copies of the DigitalMe Badge design canvas, gave a very brief description of what Open Badges are and asked the group to discuss badges for the Moodle/ICT-pedagogical competences we think our colleagues need. After a short while conversations zoomed in on the badge pictures. We found examples (googled Open Badges images) and sketched our own. Doodled and played with design variables – shape, colour, frame, icon, text, logotype, name.

From there, without any effort at all and without a single yawn, we found ourselves discussing and making decisions on all the serious items on the agenda. Here are a few conversation snippets:
“We could have different colours for different levels and staff groups” – “What goes into one level, how many should there be?”

“There could be different icons in the center for different specialisations” – “Like gamification or formative assessment or creative use of the lesson-activity!” – “Once you have collected 5 special badges you get a gold badge for a creative Moodle pedagogue!“

“How do you get a badge anyway? Does one have to take a course or could they show their competence in other ways?” “Yeah, validation, definitely – how would we go about it?”

“We should even give credits for a positive attitude and self-dependance.” “If you go for a higher badge, say a “two-star”, or a “silver”, you have to show that you are willing to solve technincal problems yourself or help others”.

Now, a couple of weeks after the meeting, work is proceeding and the level of interest still high. Discussions about criteria and evidence of competence continue online. More aspects have come up, e.g. expanding the ecosystem to comprise even other staff development or the use of badges with students.
Even if we never got round to implementing the actual badges, I would consider the badge creation process a success that has added depth and width to planning our staff development. And made it much more fun.

So – just give it a try and we would be happy to read about it in the Facebook group Open Badges for adult aducators.