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.