I think we all welcome a little bit of devil’s advocate. #digitalstudies is becoming a serious option for schools and therefore to be taken seriously we need to definitely respond to any constructive critique such as yours.
I think the flexibility from using badges comes through what badges pupils might be able to work towards. To start with the portfolios / projects may be quite heavily structured and pupils do take a fairly similar line of progress through the work. However I envisage as an example that within lets say a group of pupils who are working together on a website you have a pupil who is concentrating heavily on producing good quality imagery which meets the client brief, is designed well showing effective annotations and is then produced with great skills showing good use of advanced features and is optimised effectively for use on the web. In the exact same group you have a pupil who is instead working on the CSS and HTML which will pull in the imagery, display it on the page in the right way and create code which is compact, well written and does the job.
Using traditional levels you may be able to distinguish the two pupils but I feel that with the way levels are written it may prove cumbersome to do so and the teacher will simply assign a general level which fails to acknowledge the radical difference between the two pupils. By having two different badges available – one for the graphic creation and one for the CSS and HTML and assigning those separately to the two pupils I think is a much neater and more relevant way of acknowledging the skills they have shown.
So how does one show progress? Another analogy to use is that of the scout uniform sleeve. When I attended scouts in South Africa way back in the day we had a semi-militarised uniform so I have no idea what goes on now but our uniforms allowed us to sew our badges on our sleeves whenever we achieved a skill. These sleeves didn’t show levels or progression charts, they simply showed the amount of badges a boy had and let me tell you this, boy were we motivated to gain more badges to show off on our sleeves. I can remember feeling slightly embarrassed by my collection at one point and going through the little book we had of activities to do to gain badges to see which ones I could do to gain more badges.
So my first point about showing progress is that the collection of badges simply becomes your means for assessing progress. It is an easy way to show how much a pupil has done and because the full list of badges is made available before the portfolio starts they can see what they can still do. Tying into what I said further up about different types of badges pupils can also concentrate on collecting badges to suit their own skills (and this is where the teacher can obviously direct pupils who are unsure of their own strengths).
But what about levels? My simple answer to that is how many technology companies ‘level’ their employees one against another? I don’t think many if any do and yet we are preparing pupils for hopefully technology roles one day. A badge becomes a simple metaphor for the acquisition of skills which can easily then be translated into that first CV.
So I think ultimately comparative progress is largely irrelevant for #digitalstudies but certainly one can track the chronology of progress simply through when badges are assigned.
All the best
On 16 Apr 2012, at 11:59, Posterous wrote:
— Reply above this line to comment on this post — IaninSheffield just commented on the post “Assessing pupils work for #digitalstudies – my examination of badges and levels” on Brian Sharland
Hi Brian. Just catching up with what you guys have been discussing on the Badges front. Fascinating!I’m definitely in favour of this alternative way of recognising and celebrating achievements, but with your forbearance I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. Can I ask for a little clarification of how you think Badges might provide more ‘flexibility’ and ‘increased choice?’ Since the Badge represents a token picked up on *completion* of a learning journey, I was just thinking that flexibility and choice might kick in at the commencement of that journey. Or to put it another way, the Badge is the destination, whereas flexibility comes from the routes available?
I too think that Badges might provide a good way of revealing progress, especially to a wider audience than with current systems, but haven’t yet resolved how best to show *rate* or chronology of progress … or doesn’t that matter? Or even comparative progress … or doesn’t that matter either?
Be good to hear your thoughts, as I’m wrestling with these issues internally at the moment … and wrestling with yourself is no fun at all!