I am new to the idea of earning badges online so my commentary and thoughts are basic and not yet well developed.  However, I am not new to the idea of earning badges.  When I was in the military, I earned badges for jumping out of airplanes and proficiency with a variety of weapons from several countries.  It was an icon/graphic that instantly told others about your skills.  In that regard, I can see the benefit for earning badges in the educational system.

While I understand the need to display specialized abilities and don’t question the validity of that need, there is another aspect that I question.  What is the value in me earning a badge that tells others I am a great listener?  Wouldn’t my employer know if I was a good listener by the work I produced at my job?  Is this the new version of everyone getting a trophy for doing the intrinsic part of the job that is expected?

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT:  Could the badge system be an attempt to graphically display the resume much like how smart phones transitioned from the text-based, menu-driven Blackberry to the graphically-displayed, app-driven iPhone (which looks like badges to me)?

4 thoughts on “Badges

  1. Hannah Inzko

    While I totally understand where you are coming from with the question about badges rewarding a skill that might be an intrinsic part of your job, I also see a benefit. One of the great things about badges is that they aren’t necessarily required to pass a class or land a job, like tests or degrees often are. They are optional and therefore speak volumes to what you think is important outside of the “required reading”. If someone earns a badge for being a “great listener”, that says something about what they find valuable in themselves and in others. This can be really good information for an employer looking to hire someone to work in a variety of groups, or in customer service. Just as a badge for being a “star presenter” could be really relevant to a company needing to peddle a product or find investors.
    Just a thought.

  2. mlc400

    I really liked your thoughts on the badges and the personal connection with badges you have earned in the military. One thing that I question with this type of system is how do you cross-reference and evaluate the same type of badges that are given out by different institutions. Would the training be equally as difficult in order to earn the badge which would signify equal qualifications between potential employees?

  3. jaf378

    Erika – That’s a great thought and one I hadn’t thought of before. When I first heard badges, I thought of the Boy Scouts earning merit badges – a way to show that some skill was learned and demonstrated. I still have my questions about badges, but it seems clear that they hold much more value with certain concrete skills and disciplines than in others.

    Cheryl – I share many of your concerns. I think badges will have a tough time being adopted universally, but I also think it’s hard for an employer (or anyone for that matter) to know that you’re a great listener until they spend enough time with you. Employers rely on what we present them on a resume and what our references tell them, but there’s always at least some small unknown/leap of faith. Perhaps badges can help fill that gap?

  4. eimpagliatelli

    I love your comparison to the military, that thought hadn’t occurred to me as I originally read the article. More so than just a good listener badge, I think these badges are going to be for more concrete skills that can be learned online, such as algebra, chemistry, and analyzing art, all of which can be studied and practiced on Khan Academy. If registered, you can save all of your progress and scores from practice sessions. My understanding is that most of these badges could be displayed/described in your résumé during the application process.

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