Tuesday, April 14, 2015

MOUSE Badges: Learning from Successful Projects

by James Willis and Gina Howard

As we finalize the soon-to-be published Design Principles Documentation (DPD) findings, we would like to highlight one particularly successful project: MOUSE. Marc Lesser, Education Director at MOUSE, recently posted an insightful blog entry, Why We Badge: Five reasons we set out to design a digital badging system for learners at MOUSE five years ago. Highlighting some of Lesser's points, we also can discuss what the DPD team found to be true about the MOUSE badging system.

The DPD project set out to analyze the badge development practices of 29 project grantees of the MacArthur Foundation / Digital Media & Learning (DML) Badges for Lifelong Learning competition, beginning in 2012. The project documented the intended practices as outlined in their DML project proposals and the enacted practices as implemented in their badge systems. Additionally, the project also cataloged formal practices which persisted beyond DML funding. A detailed summary of the MOUSE program, as well as the specific practices, can be found on our appendix page.

Lesser expands on five key reasons why MOUSE decided to pursue open digital badges: scaling culture, curating experience, motivation, taxonomy of skills, and pathways. With five years of experience in the badges world, Lesser's insights into high-value badges are quite helpful to similarly-minded programs. Here, we would like to connect a few of our findings of the MOUSE program in order to demonstrate what a particularly successful program looks like.
Amongst numerous practices MOUSE built and sustained into their system, several standout practices contributed to their success. These include:

1. MOUSE validated their badges through expert recognition, both with human and computer experts. This means MOUSE badges support claims of learning. 

2. MOUSE participated in other recognition activities like using badges to map learning trajectories and recognizing diverse learning. 

3. In their assessment activities, MOUSE used leveled badge systems to scaffold learning as students gained skills. 

4. MOUSE motivated students by engaging with the larger community, using peer-to-peer evaluation and acknowledgment. This further substantiates the social nature of learning. 
MOUSE issued what they called Wins! to recognize learning

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