Jun 09

Print this Post

Course 4 week 5-Badges and the Learning Community

Google starts badges

In the following video, you can see how Google is incorporating the badging system with Google Reader.

Badging is a way to document what types of articles you have read and to help customize the Google Reader experience (at least that is what Google says).

Below is the description of badging.

Electronic badge system = scouting merit badge system?

There is some debate about how the badging system works to promote extrinsic motivation and decrease the cultivation of intrinsic motivation.  Philipp Schmid, executive director and co-founder of Peer 2 Peer University, wrote about two key points regarding the badge system in his blog post, Let’s make badges not stink:

The issue is not, “badges or no badges” The issue is how we can design badge systems that foster great learning practices. 

1 – Use badges to define roles rather than as rewards. In many learning communities users take different roles. Mitch actually mentions the importance of taking roles within a community like Scratch, but he sees roles as separate from badges. I believe that by recognizing roles – for example a mentor role – through a badge will signal to a new members of the community that mentorship is a valued practice within the community, and helps  them identify those who can help with problems and questions. And finally it may encourage users to strive to become mentors themselves. So rather than give badges as rewards they can help diffuse awareness of roles within a community.

2 – Anchor badges within community. The relationship between issuer and recipients will influence perceptions and expectations around badges. Badges that are woven into the fabric of a community of learning will be perceived less as extrinsic motivators, but as representation of core practices within the community. When the badge recipient feels ownership of the design of the badge, because she fully considers herself a member of the community that defines and issues the badge, the badge can provide an effective marker of learning pathways that help the learner to orientate herself within the landscape, and can act as a marker and pointer for new members of the community following in her steps.

In my classroom

While far from perfect, I did work on an analog version of a badge system in my classroom.  Learning Japanese can be challenging.  Student motivation can be a huge hurdle.  My challenge was, “How do you motivate/keep students motivated to take risks and put forth the effort.  This is what I came up with for use in the classroom.

Name tag (front)

Promoting the stars or badges, I explained to the students that this was a goal.  If students showed mastery of hiragana, katakana, or a certain topic, students could earn their star.  The question was not if you were going to earn your star (for the appropriate topic), but WHEN you were going to earn the star.  Those students who earned their star early on were asked to mentor and help their fellow classmates out so they too could earn their star.  While at times management of the system became a challenge, the initial structure held and the culture was established.

Since participation and speaking Japanese in class was a key trait that I wanted students to develop, students could earn stickers for their involvement with the class.  Twenty stickers collected, students would then earn their belt (a colored strip of paper) indicating their rank.  Loosely based on the karate belting system, the idea was that the more practice that you completed, the higher rank you could attain.  In general, the system allowed students to help self-monitor their classroom participation and skill level in class.

Name tag (back) Homework-side

The preparation for class and homework sheet was another way of providing individual feedback in an analog info-graphic type form.  Students could easily check with a quick glance if they had been consistent with their homework completion.  I could congratulate students for having consistent lines of stickers, or ask students about the patterns that they noticed if the homework completion was not as consistent.

Where I was

With the star system, the questions that were being answered were similar to the following:

What do we want kids to learn?  What are the goals?  What is the content?

One downside with the star system, was the focus on the content.

Where I want to be

In the future, I want to be able to connect more with the student and their needs.  It would be nice to have an independent study component where students could earn specific badges for their efforts outside of class.  For example there could be a badge for taking swim lessons in Japanese, or a badge for talking to a friend or relative in Japanese (via Skype, on the phone, or in person).

I would like to focus on student leaders/mentors and develop those roles.  With students better equipped to create useful videos that I could share with other classes, I was able to share much more between classes than I had been able to do in previous years.  While student role-models and the student ability to impact the learning of students outside of their own Japanese class was definitely apparent, I did not get to the point where I could properly recognize those students for their contributions.  Students were given feedback at times about their projects via handwritten post-it notes.

Below is the list that Stackoverflow has to offer to its users.  It is a comprehensive list with a unique angle on the badge titles.

Extensive list of badges

Representing core practices within the community

Using our current mission statement as a guide, perhaps “stars” or badges could be included for the students attaining goals or showing exemplary behavior as these type of learners:



Globally responsible
learners prepared for global responsibility

As I come to the close of one chapter and I am about to start another journey at my new school, I look forward to learning more about the core practices and beliefs of RIS.  Starting my acquisition with a new language, I may have to come up with my own personal badge system to help keep track of my language learning.  But regardless of whether or not a badge system is currently in place at my new elementary school, I am excited to become an active part of a new learning community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/06/09/course-4-week-5/

1 comment

  1. Kim Cofino

    I really like the idea of badges for work that falls outside of the traditional academic focus – more for celebrating accomplishments that highlighting what others have or haven’t done. Great idea! I wonder if just having those kinds of badges would be community building because students would see other students that are interested in the same things they are, and be able to find common bonds that they wouldn’t normally see. Great idea!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>