One of my aims for this week was to find out what this whole badge thing was about in ocTEL and I was obviously not the only person to be intrigued by the talk of badges as I spotted a tweet on Friday asking if we were for or against the system.
Before the course started I would have stated categorically that I was against. I can’t foresee a case where I would want to include certificates/badges as professional development evidence because these items are not evidence of learning, just evidence that I ‘turned up’. In application, portfolio and appraisal situations for example, I would want to use evidence that I had actually gained from a course not just proving I attended. I would want to state the changes I implemented as a result of attending the course and why it helped me make those decisions etc. With that in mind I didn’t plan to really go about earning my badges over the five weeks of ocTEL.
Then as it was on my list of aims I went about learning all about the ALT badge system and now I hate to admit that I have already gained 5 badges over week one and two. Why the u-turn? Well, the easy answer is that my competitive button was well and truly pushed, darn it. Now I am competing with no one but myself to gain as many as possible each week. I am not going to be showing these to anyone, I certainly won’t be including the total in any form or presentation so why bother? I think it is because the badges are specific yet not specific at all. They set aims but as it is entirely up to me as to how and where I go about getting them, my chosen flow through the course is in now way restricted. A badge can be for three contributions to discussions but I choose the discussions.
Is this a win-win situation, a carrot to encourage participants to join in more who perhaps would not have otherwise and also rewarding those who prefer a more basic level of participation? It also seems to be a format with a focus on proof of learning and participation rather than just proving that I showed up each week. Another, benefit over the usual certificate system is that participants who only want to join in for a single week for a specific topic doesn’t get penalised. Again it suggests a shift of focus from the traditional ‘all students must complete the course’ view to one which allows the learner to decide how much of a course is required for their own needs.
So I end my internal debate wondering if I wrote this post just to get another badge or I would have done it anyway to fulfil my own aims for the week. Either way, I have enjoyed the tasty carrot thus far and will review it all again after the end of the course.
I admit, I’m being won over too! I think this is because every use of badge I have encountered so far has been very candid about what the badge means. They may signify simply turning up but then do not pretend to be more.
Do you anticipate possibly using the awarding of badges professionally?