Informal Learning & An Ask for Optimism From DML

The annual Digital Media and Learning Conference has come to SF this year, and “motivation” has been the magic (or at least most-used) word. Both in scientist/strategist John Seely Brown’s kickoff statement (which included the idea that the half-life of skills is now five years max) and conversations about learner engagement, reasons for participation–and how they might be recognized–have been dominant.

Packed-to-the-gills panels about badging programs have me thinking about why this is an idea that many people seem to love to hate (more about this topic, and why I think it has promise, is shared in my paper about Mozilla’s Open Badges infrastructure in the journal Access to Knowledge). As grade inflation and under-employment abound, we still seem reticent to experiment with new models for credentialing and skill sharing. Of course we should be concerned about the value that learners gain when trying to achieve new skills. But as we think about motivations for lifelong learning, I hope educators and families can at least bring a sense of optimism about what might become of this way of contextualizing knowledge and expertise.