“My university degree is the tree. It’s a bedrock of legitimacy but lacks specificity with regards to what I’m capable of. Badges are the ornaments that show what I am good at. That’s where the details are.” – Charles, MentorMob
I’m excited to have taken on a fresh new role on the Mozilla Open Badges team as product and design researcher, largely because I’m getting to talk to community members about their needs within this connected learning ecosystem. In asking educators and technologists (or badgering them, as some might say) about tools that will help in finding relevant content and locating related programming, I’ve learned that analogies abound. People like Charles are describing the OBI and its potential impact in very different ways. I’ve long appreciated badge system design lead Carla Casilli’s conception of “new constellations of learning pathways [that] evolve into being from earners devising their own paths, guided by light from distant badge galaxies.” Games designer Chloe Varelidi has also greatly impacted my thinking about systems that are connected based on skills, even if they’re part of what seem like different universes today.
Several interviewees have recently suggested that badges are living things that can indicate progress and improvements as they happen. This is a real-time technology that lives; it’s not just a set of indicators about prior learning. What I like about Guowen Wang’s flickr image at right is that it shows intertwined, interstellar-looking branches that are rooted in strong tree trunks. I may be mixing metaphors, but the concepts of growth, gardening and exploration are greatly resonating as I think about learners forging their own pathways and showcasing them.
I’ll be working with creative lead Jess Klein and other makers and thinkers to conceptualize ways that this fruitful set of systems might be discovered. Together we’re considering how the greatness of this worldwide garden can be accessed and understood by employers, educators, learners, and more. Please share your thoughts as we undertake this work!