The concept of badges was new to me in the context of earning badges for learning. The parallel concept of that to the Boy Scouts seemed like a very interesting approach to learning today. The positive factors of using the badge system seems to be an increase in motivation to learn as well as the more specific interest-based learning experience it creates for the learner. However, are these truly the best way to achieve a positive learning environment today?
If employers start to base hiring expectations off of badges instead of degrees, I can see how a competitive job market, that is out there, turns into a bigger one. Would learners still be obtaining badges for the sake of wanting to learn more about that skill or would it be to beat out their rival in the same field that they are researching and looking for a career in? Essentially, you would still be learning the information but the motivational influence and the personal connections to the learning could be hindered in an environment where each person is trying to one-up the other.
Another area that made me question the badge approach to learning is the concept of who creates and awards the badges. The varying levels of badge creation should carry weight. Having any old university hand out a badge versus an accredited university should be taken into consideration. Also, if badges are allowed to be created by employers, would these rank equal to the badges earned from students studying the same content at other institutions?
The motivational factor behind the badges does provide for a great gain in education. Allowing learners to earn badges for what they are interested in and for providing more skill specific learning is a wonderful benefit to this approach; however, I believe it would still be achieved even in there was no badge system. If a learner is truly motivated to learn about something, they will create the environment in which to do so. The learner will create their own learning network of people who can help them achieve their desired goal or who can work alongside of them in obtaining a similar goal. The teacher’s role then turns to facilitator and coach in this case which is what was described by Richardson.
Overall, I believe that a student’s self-motivation ranks a lot higher than personal achievement badges that are rewarded for learning. I know personally that the badge system of learning did not work for me because I am a Girl Scout drop-out!