Who are digital badges for? We have spent the last few months thinking, talking and making Mozilla Open Badges for students taking part in the Supporter To Reporter Medals project. Along the way we have learnt a lot - about what you might need for a badge system, how the technology works and what young people want badges to do for them. We are now on an the verge of testing the system with real students in real schools with real work and real badges - generally really exciting. However, before we reflect on what the students are learning and how the system works in practice we thought it would be useful to reflect on what we have learnt - and why not also award ourselves some badges!

The Learning By Doing Badge

Whilst the discussions,  examples and workshops for developing Open Badges have been excellent there is nothing like learning on the job. Rather than trying to get all of our system right in one go or on paper we started with building things and then understanding how they should fit together. See our previous post on how we used the Olympics as a testing ground for a lite badger by awarding 2012 Reporter medals. This has been immensely useful not just in understanding the technology but in being able to point to something when discussing it with project partners and participants.

The Two Heads are Better than one badge

It may be an obvious point to make but the strength of working in partnership shouldn't be underestimated. Our project partners DigitalMe have a wealth of experience working directly with young people in creating sports reports and reporting from live events. This enables them to understand the range and nuance of skills that the badges need to represent, they also understand the affect of different settings and the role that teachers play in the process - all things that need to be accommodated in the badge system we build - eg. what badges are automatic which ones should be awarded by teaches. In addition to collaborating with our project partners we have also gained a lot form the teachers and students themselves. See a previous post on the different views teachers, students and academics have brought to our project. This is continuing at a pace now that we are working even more closely with schools on the pilot activity and continues to inform and challenge our thinking.

The Dont Make Lazy Assumptions Badge

Even with two heads it can be easy to be blinded to something or accept your own assumptions as truth. The Digital Media Learning competition workshops have been very useful in this regard as a way to stretch our thinking and challenge our assumptions. We don't always agree with those challenges but it certainly keeps us on our mental toes! And there is no better challenger to adult assumptions than a disinterested teen - at the start of the project we often referred to the fact that S2R Medals could be shared on students' Facebook pages as way to show their value and purpose. However, the constant feedback from students we have spoken with is that they wouldn't want to share their S2R medals on Facebook as it mixes their 'professional' and 'personal' lives and at worst could cause embarrassment or even bullying. Whether this says more about the medals than badges as a whole remains to be seen but it has certainly made us less lazy in our assumptions and look at how badges can be shared positively.

Test Pilot Badge

Returning to the earlier question of who are badges for we have now started to include teachers much more in our thinking. There has been such enthusiasm and eagerness to explore badges from the teachers in the  pilot schools that we are now in the process of developing a special 'Test Pilot Badge'. This will be just for the teachers and will be a way to evidence their contribution and to show that everyone involved is learning together. More on the this badge over then next few weeks.

What's your badge list?

I  would love to get your views on what we have learnt and how it compares. What badges do you think you have earned? what badges should we be aspiring towards? are there negative badges we may have inadvertently picked up :/ ? contact on twitter @cliffmanning or on email at makewav.es with your badge list.

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