As I read the criteria for the Mozilla Open Badges project, some things occur to me.
- This is not a competition that the small-time, trench-living teacher can participate in. It is going to be another top-down project leading to an "improvement" in education.
- By embedding technology in classrooms, many teachers are already "badging" students by publishing digital products.
- Models already exist - Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts come to mind, as do all of those Resume and college essay models that ask students to "make a case for doing and excellence." My little Beatrice gets badges on a chart when she uses the potty. Grades are badges. This is an old idea.
- There is an ulterior motive for making "badge activities" mostly digital. How many students will this leave out?
- Who is asking Why do we need this?
If anyone were to ask me, I would suggest the following:
- Attach badges to the Common Core standards too - what a great incentive to progress through them! If that statement jars you, there is a problem here.
- If badges are going to useful to students and adults in the practical world, everyone must know what they mean and how to get them. 1 certification method, 1 form, 1 image set, 1 descriptor set - KISS and keep it concrete.
- Criteria for a badge must fit on an iPad screen without scrolling.
- Few badges, but limitless stars that indicate additional time and achievement within the badge category.
- Focus on Creativity, Problem-solving, and Accreditation - In other words, not on pursuing learning or opportunities only, but on demonstration of original, completed outcomes.
- Mini-badges should be available so that elementary and middle school students can practice and develop skills necessary to achieve the permanent badges - these should also be standardized, but the criteria and products would not be nearly as rigorous - this is something for kids and teachers to be directly involved in (local assessments)
- Communication standards for students seeking badges should be high.
- Only a few earned badges each year? OK! Make it tough.
- Someone has to budget for the judges.
- Students should be involved in the judging.
- Original publication - creative work (print, film, other media)
- Original publication - informational work (print, film, other media)
- Original media product in category: game, media-text, app, computer program solution, industrial design, product line
- Action Project addressing social concern or problem - demonstration of student's role as change agent
- Job-skill Accreditation - like apprenticeship - this is a badge that Maine should develop with the support and input (key) of small industry: beauty, health, building, outdoor/environmental, trades, design/home art, farming, mechanical (cars, engines, bikes...), cooking, retail...
- Volunteerism - deep involvement over 4 or more years, evidence of "making a difference"
Schools and states do need to change the paradigm of the 8-3 classroom. This is about when and how learning happens, not about competition and stamps. Why is it taking Mozilla to open the door to this thinking? What are we thinking?