There’s a school just up the road from us in Sterling, Kansas, that is reportedly in the process of shifting about 60% of their high school classes to reflect a Career and Technical Education focus. That means that their kids aren’t just attending classes and working for a grade like you and I did. They’re participating in classes that will lead to credentialing and licensure once the student has demonstrated mastery. It’s about careers and Career Pathways. It’s about leaving school ready to work. Or go to college. Or go to a technical school.
There are other shifts happening, too.
ESSDACK, the non-profit education service center where I work, is shifting the notion of professional learning for educators with our Self-Directed Professional Learning Modules. We believe that learning and professional development credit points ought not come from simple seat time at a workshop. That learning can happen any place, at any time, and that our educators want to be doing something better. So we are developing an opportunity for them to get credit for doing better, any time, any place.
However most of the evidence of learning for students and educators is reflected by grades or seat-time credit. It’s not about learning or mastery. It’s about “did you put your time in and did you jump through the hoops the right way at the right time?”
And that’s simply not good enough any more. We want kids leaving school with actual learning and evidence of that learning that indicates they can actually do something and are ready to get started. We want educators who get credit for not only spending time in professional learning sessions, but who are doing something with that learning.
If we stay with the current broken model of grades, it’s too hard to shift mindsets. Enter badges.
Now I have been a vocal critic of badges in the past, but not because I think they’re bad. In fact, I think they are great, if we spot potential pitfalls and build bridges over those dangerous gaps.
At the risk of writing too much, I’m going to just drop a couple links, then share a video. If you’re brand new to the concept of badging instead of grades, click these links first. When you feel you have a handle on the basics, watch the video below. It might be a little slow in spots, but the conversation is rich.
- Gamification Overview
- Gamification vs. Game Based Learning in Education
- Using Gamification and Flipped Classroom models to support learner engagement and autonomy
Once you feel up to speed about badges and gamification (and how game-based learning isn’t gamification), jump into this roundtable discussion: “Should we use Badges and Micro-credentials for learning?”
Full disclosure, I was invited to be a member of the roundtable as a voice of dissent, or at least as a voice of caution.
This roundtable was streamed live on Feb 7, 2014
Of course, there are numerous ways to go wrong with them, but done right? Done where people earn badges that signify what they can, and have demonstrated what they actually are able to do?
This might really be a great answer for many learning communities!
More information about the roundtable
From Ben Wilkoff, Co-Director of Blended Learning at Denver Public Schools, and the roundtable facilitator: Thank you so much for everyone who participated live. The notes document is now a hugely valuable resource for those who want to start implementing badges: http://bit.ly/badgesroundtable
If you’re interested, you can get involved by watching the video and submitting your own reflection
1. Submit your reflection for your own badge for this session – http://badges.p2pu.org/en/badge/view/…
2. Attend the rest of the Project Roundtable sessions: http://bit.ly/projectroundtable