Some thoughts on digital badges to recognise learning

Following our experience of awarding Badges for the successful finishers of our open course on Professional Ethics for Physiotherapists this summer, I found these thoughts on the nature of open badges by David Wiley very interesting. In summary:

  1. The digital nature of badges means they can be awarded for lots of small achievements, large numbers of badges can be stored by the recipient (for example in a Mozilla Backpack) and searched and found when required for presentation as evidence (e.g. to a potential employer).
  2. As blogs have democratized publishing, “badges have democratized credentialing”. With democratisation comes issues of quality control. For blogs Google pagerank has become the measure of quality and ultimately as the number of issuers of badges expands a similar automated approach will be necessary to measure the quality of the badges and their issuers.

On the second point it is not immediately obvious how this could work. If the receivers themselves care about the quality of the badges they collect, then the numbers of badges stored in a system would be a measure of their quality. However there would always be those who would seek to game such a situation. Perhaps it would also be necessary to include a human element to rank the value of badges and their issuers, in a manner akin to reviews on Amazon. Perhaps this could occur in a trusted system such as LinkedIn where efforts to game the system would run the risk of significant penalties. Time will tell.