Friday, February 27, 2015

A Few Recent Badges Publications

by James Willis 

It's wonderful to see open digital badges research expanding rapidly. We have a brief list (with links) of recent papers that might be of interest to those studying badges. This is one effort our new project, Open Badges in Higher Education.

*Please note, some links may be behind publisher paywalls.

Digital badges for teacher mastery: An exploratory study of a competency-based professional development badge system by James Diamond and Pilar Carmina Gonzalez

"This study contributes knowledge about how a digital badge system integrated into an online, subject-matter-specific, and competency-based professional development program affected teachers' experiences with and perceptions of the program activities." 

Written for the University of California Humanities Research Institute, Diamond and Gonzalez offer some particularly salient recommendations (see page 43). While written specifically for the Who Built America (WBA) badge system, the recommendations for improving the system are potentially applicable for others. Our own Design Principles Documentation project also examined WBA; our our final report will be out shortly.

Tweeting badges: User motivations for displaying achievement in publicly networked environments  by K. Hazel Kwon, Alexander Halavais, and Shannon Havener

"This study aims to contribute to the understanding of why social media users publicize their achievements in the form of online badges. Five motivational factors for badge display in public networked environments are distinguished - self-efficacy, social incentives, networked support, passing time, and inattentive sharing - and it is suggested that different badge types are associated with different motivations."

One of the main findings in this study, that the intersection of social incentives and learner effort put forth to earn a badge is extremely important to the design of a badge system, is also reiterated in other literature, including our preliminary findings in the DPD report. The methodological model in this paper may be quite helpful to other empirical studies, though, because the measures are built from prior studies.

Using open badges to certify practicing evaluators by Randall Davies, Dan Randall, and Richard E. West

"In this article we propose a certification system based on digital open badges. The open badge framework uses a top-down design to structure and understand the certification process as micro-certification units. These types of systems are adaptable and clearly communicate the evidence of knowledge, skill, and experience represented by the credential." 

Addressing a very specific need for credentialing, the authors suggest open badges for the American Evaluation Association. Many of the suggestions are based out of particular assessment issues that the authors locate in their "principles for rigorously using badges:" transparency, flexibility, rigor, and management. This article is applicable to higher education by the authors' suggestions of how rigorous and transparent assessment are beneficial to thinking through how "units forms the basis for the overall credential."  

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