What are Badges/Micro-credits?

Badges are a mechanism to award incentives, progress indicators, and micro-credits. Badging draws on longstanding ways learning has been documented in other settings, such as the personal skills and achievement when a Boy or Girl Scout earns a merit badge. The approach is being used in learning environments like the Khan Academy, with promising results — people watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. Mozilla has published an open specification for badging — the Open Badge Initiative (OBI) — that enables providers and users alike to easily display their achievements on the web. Badges can be used as a way to incorporate some of the advantages of game mechanics as participants work through various levels or stages to achieve credentials. While badges are not by any means pervasive in education systems, they appeal to many educators because they are considered to be a credible alternative for measuring knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition in a very granular way, as compared to standard tests, grades, or the venerable credit hour.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 4, 2016 Given that Cooperative Extension (at least in Wisconsin) is not a certificate or degree granting body, having a more formalized way of recognizing the education people receive through our programs, I believe will add relavancy and credibility to our work.
  • Agree...and it is not that foreign a concept. Extension programs have frequently provided certificates of completion for F2F classes; badges are an electronic counterpart - oneill oneill May 22, 2016
  • Further agreement. In the era of lifelong learning, a more formalized badge system is probably more relevant for certain individuals. These badges should increase individuals motivations to want to increase participations in Extension Programs. For example, Fitbit has motivated me to want to achieve additional badges with the extra benefit of developing a healthy lifestyle. - wolforkt wolforkt May 29, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 4, 2016 I think the end of the statement still has a k-16 bias to it using terms like standard tests, grades and credit hour. Our educational programs are non-traditional and often occur in court houses, community centers, barns, etc. Badges can also be a way of recognizing learning that happens outside of the traditional k-16 way of thinking.
  • It would be good to have a research component for this; i.e., to study the effectiveness of badges in motivating learners. - oneill oneill May 22, 2016
  • It would be nice to not only see how badges affect our clientele but also the perception of badges for professional development for Extension personnel. - wolforkt wolforkt May 29, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 4, 2016 I believe it will allow Cooperative Extension to add relevancy and credibility to our educational programming that may not have been recognized before.
  • Badges could prove valuable in attracting, retaining, and engaging a diverse pool of learners. It is worth trying.- oneill oneill May 22, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 4, 2016 Outside of Cooperative Extension, (we have 3 divisions of Extension, Cooperative being my division the one relevant to this study) our Wisconsin Flex program (part of UW-Extension Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning) is formalizing this approach. See: http://universitylearningstore.org/
  • Not exactly. The only quasi-equivalent that I've been involved with is providing CEU certificates to those who attend our MFLN Personal Finance webinars. Folks need to take a quiz and get at least an 80% score before we issue a CEU certificate. - oneill oneill May 22, 2016

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