Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Innovating Pedagogy 2013: Badges to accredit learning

blendedlearning's picture

The Innovating Pedagogy report is an annual overview of edutech from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. The 2013 report, the second in the series, selects 10 emerging innovations from the long list of existing technologies which the institute believes have the potential to make a significant impact on education. These are not technologies which are in development or even new, but rather technologies and ideas which are already being effected but have room to expand. The report ranks each innovation in terms of potential impact and timescale for implementation, describes its current application, and then explains the pedagogy behind the innovation and how it could be re-envisioned for maximum impact. The second innovation the report describes is the use of badges to accredit learning.

Potential impact: high
Timescale: medium (2-5 years)

Badges are already a staple for demonstrating membership or accomplishment, not only in online forums but in all kinds of day-to-day usage. In the case of educational technology, badges can be used to show participation in or completion of a course, mastery of a skill, or competency in a particular area. The use of badges as a sign of achievement has been increasing in the last year, including integration into mainstream course management systems like Moodle and open access material providers like Khan Academy.

More recent developments include the creation of "badge backpacks" such as the Mozilla Open Badge framework which allows recipients to display a collection of badges. With respect to MOOCs, the report notes that "badges provide a way to recognise achievement within MOOCs as well as driving engagement with them." Badges could even be used, within a learning system, to unlock new challengers or activities in a way that mirrors the unlocking system of achievement which drives many gaming platforms. If the system of badges becomes formalized enough, they could even represent "a student's profile of skills to colleagues and employers." However, to acquire this kind of legitimacy, the system will require some amount of regulation. Currently, there are no constraints on who can award badges, or for what. In order to maintain their value to learner's  and be worth displaying in the first place - badges need to mark significant achievements, and come from reliable issuers.

For more information or to read the full report, visit Open University's blog.