Friday, May 31, 2013

Designing a badge to span contexts

Designing badges so they can span contexts is good for badges. The idea being that a badge designed for one context could fit well within another context. This context spanning should work for learning specific skills, informal learnings, accomplishments or attendance within a conference, helping out in the community, or being recognized for something of importance. There are many ways badges can be awarded and designed to be used across contexts. This is well understood through a couple of scenarios;

  1. Soldering badges
  2. There is a growing number of organizations and events that support the hacker ethos. Hacking has also been a hobby of many for generations. The idea of figuring something out and making it better, or combining it with something else, or starting from scratch and creating your own goodness is what hacking is about. Some of these organizations include; hacker scouts, maker faires, hardware hobbiests, and adafruit. They all focus on hacking, making and inventing. Mostly hacking occurs within technical environments, but things are changing where you can pretty much hack anything to better serve your needs. All four of these organizations see the ability of soldering as a skill required to be a successful hacker. And each of them offer ways to develop and recognize the skills of soldering. Hacker scouts provide lab type environment to develop soldering skills, maker faire will have workshops or table setup where a person can prove their soldering skills, home hobbiests could create a short video displaying their soldering skills, and the adafruit organization has learning reasources and toolkist to learn soldering. All these organization and approaches could issue the same badge in this capacity.

    The same badge design, criteria, validation, and endorsements could be used across these different contexts to award the same soldering badge.

  3. Lighting badges
    Many different disciplines include lighting as a part of their learning curriculum. These disciplines include;
    • Landscape architecture where lighting is important for safety and showcasing the landscape at night.
    • Theater lighting where lighting is important to the stage for the particular theater performance.
    • Band lighting where the performance band needs lighting across many different sized and shaped venues.
    • Residential lighting where lighting is designed specifically for the residence.
    • Industrial lighting where lighting is designed for the specific industrial of large public space.

    The importance here is that different contexts have the need for different (yet similar) badges. Each needs a lighting badge and each criteria would be different due to the environments they are wanting to light. Each badge should be designed for each specific environment, while each badge could be reused into another curriculum. As an example, an independent learner may want to learn all they can about the lighting of space, regardless of context or environment. They could earn badges from all five disciplines and create their own lighting specialty curriculum.

    Different badges of the same descriptions, developed for different contexts could be used within a new unique and specialized learning program.
What does this mean to badge design? What design approaches should be considered so a badge could be used across contexts?

There are five main attributes within the badge metadata that describe the badge and how it relates to other things and where its criteria is described. It is within these attributes that the badge can be designed to span different contexts and environments.
  • image - the badge image should remain issuer agnostic. There should be no branding information within the image of the badge and the badge should use universally recognized imagery that aligns with the meaning of the badge. The above soldering badge could serve as an example.
  • criteria - the wording within the badge criteria should describe the learning, achievement, or recognition using a neutral language. Within the badge criteria refrain making reference to the issuer, context or environment. Consider the badge having the abilities being issued by another organization or within a different context.
  • tags - use tags to decribe the badge across contexts. 
  • alignment - if the badge aligns with a standard other similar badge with a well articulated and similar criteria add AlignmentObjects. Keep in mind that official standards are sometimes difficult to find in areas of innovation. If other similar badges exist, add them here, and also link to thier official describtions or critiria URL.
  • endorsement - when endorsement comes available within the OBI. Seek endorsements for your badge. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

OnPhD: Research Methods Learning Plan

Within the OnPhD Candidacy challenge the candidate needs to identify there proved history as a researcher or define there approach to developing the required research skills. The candidates research skills need to be at the level where they will be able to complete the research required to a PhD level. This on an area where I need to focus. I have only taken two research methods courses in my life and I have never participated in or conducted any kind of research beyond reading for school, personal learning, or work. This is what I see as the tasks required to complete the learning I require to become a competent PhD level researcher. The following is how I will approach the three tasks identified in the OnPhD Candidacy Challenge task;

1. Learning plan to develop research skills;
  1. Readings - read two books on research methods. One on educational research methods and the other on big data computational research methods. The two books could be;
    1. Research Methods in Education
    2. Research Methods in Software Engineering

  2. OER - seek out an open educational resource focused on research methods. Review these two Open Courseware's from MIT;

  3. Identify and Review - Identify a number of research projects similar to the one I am intending, and do an in-depth review of approaches, analysis methods, etc...

  4. Volunteer - as a research assistant on a similar research project as my current thesis project.
2. Applicable research methodologies;

This will be completed as I finish the first task of developing my research skills.

3. Commitment to ethical boundaries within my research;

This will also be developed as I complete the first task in developing my research skills. And by working through all the modules found in the research ethics site created by elsevier;

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Add to the rationale for a School of Badges

So we have created three of eight courses toward a School of Badges. If you can add anything further or have questions. It would be most appreciated...

What are the rationale behind creating the school of badges?
  1. Comprehensiveness - provide people a complete set of courses to explore all the aspects of open and digital badges (from getting started through technical implementation). The set of courses should be run and hosted from within a shared platform that facilitates peer based learning.
  2. Learning Pathways - offer a set of courses that provide steps along a learning journey allowing the learner to build an understanding of badges best suited to their needs. The learning pathway should be flexible in that they can develop their own scenarios when deepening thier understanding of open and digital badges.
  3. Collaboration (peer based learning) - utilize a platform that encourages peer based learning and allows people to engage at a frequency and depth best suited for their personal needs. Discussion and collaboration should be a foundational feature of the learning environment.
  4. Promotion - align the school of badges with P2Pu for mutual benefit. Add content, learners and traffic to P2Pu while following the P2Pu approach in building a school. The build-out of the courses within the School of Badges is a volunteer effort; and P2Pu benefits from these added courses (content) and provides a platform for their promotion. The school also aligns with P2Pu increasing use of open badges to recognize accomplishments.
  5. Other - what else can you think of?

Friday, May 10, 2013

OnPhD Supervisory Team

Currently, I want to identify my research methods / approach for my OnPhD research project. Given I have identified a weakness around research methods I believe I need some input into identifying my learning regarding research approaches, and to have people well versed in research would assist greatly. I will reach out to the OnPhD google group and also begin my search for my OnPhD supervisory team. Given I intend my research to be in the intersection of Educational Technology, Heutagogy, and Solution Architecture I would like my supervisory team to fall with a collective expertise in these areas.

One thing important to me is to turn away from traditional academia. This is not due to my thinking there isn't great value available from people with an academic background, and I really hope to have people well versed in academia on my supervisory team. I have two main reasons for looking away from traditional academia and current education innovation, these two reasons are as follows;
  1. I believe so many great open education projects end up looking toward traditional approaches for guidance and support, or end-up leaning toward corporate interests. And through time these initiatives become increasingly aligned with traditional academic approaches and profit (rather than public service) and lose their opportunity to work outside these traditional approaches. I see this as important because I believe global education innovation needs to look more closely towards those who have limited access to education (those who have access to education are already well served). Traditional approaches struggle to comprehensively meet the needs of the 75% who do not have access to continued and tertiary education. I believe the solution will be found with more grassroots and clinical approaches, where the educational needs are localized and focused upon community educational needs rather than global educational trends. Due to environmental and economic factors, I believe the future is localized.
  2. Learning is an individual meta-cognitive effort, and the current educational technology innovation should focus more on individual approaches rather than massive ones. I honestly believe the future of education is about teaching people to teach themselves, everything else is content and tools to deepen, assess and recognize learning. All educational technologies are tools in the individual learners toolkit. There is no significant difference in any one of these technologies being better than another, it is a collective effort.

There are more people unserved by Higher-ed than those being served. This needs to change by increasing the self-directed approaches to the life-long learning mix.
 The people in my dream team of OnPhD supervisors would come from a variety of backgrounds and fall into one of these three categories. My preference would be to also have supervisors who can span two of my three knowledge domains.

1. Educational Technology
Seeking educational technologists with a broad view toward applying technology to education. They would be equally well versed in open source and propriety systems. Though my preference would be toward open systems. They would have strong experience with rich and mixed media, and will have deployed these media on a variety of open platforms. They have good experience with implementing geographically disbursed systems and would have worked in public education.

2. Heutagogy / Pedagogy / Autodidactic
Seeking accomplished life-long learners who have reconciled within themselves how to best learn what interests them and what they need to be successful. These learners have differing depths of understanding the theories and approaches of heutagogy, andragogy, pedagogy and autodidactism. What is most important is they are self-directed life-long learners and/or help others to be self-directed life-long learners.

3. Solution Architecture
Seeking solution or enterprise architects with an interest in continued professional development within all subject domains of computer and information systems architecture. In particular, people who are familiar with open and standards based approaches to architecture with focus on TOGAF and software architecture.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

WANTED: OnPhD Mentorship

What would provide you incentive to mentor someone (me) through to a PhD level of knowing a subject domain?

The commitment would be small and I would guide the process. Every four months I would provide a 15 minute video update with a collection of readings and other media for you to evaluate if you had the time or inclination. The subjects would be focused on educational technology, self-directed learning, and solutions architecture. If you had an interested in any of these subject domains I would be happy to deepen my knowledge by researching a subject for you.

So, what incentive would you require to share your knowledge and provide me assistance?

What is an Open and Networked PhD (OnPhD)?
I consider an OnPhD to be a self-directed exploration into a domain of knowledge. The mastery of the knowledge domain would be to a PhD level of knowing. The learning journey would be done completely in the open (for free) and would utilize a persons social and learning network (both online and off).

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Badge System Design for Communities

During the P2Pu community call it was suggested I tie the badge system design rubric more closely to communities (within which the badge has currency). Consider how the badge system represents skills, practices, participation, and habits of an existing community? How much does the community identify with the badge?

I believe this is a good suggestion and an excellent couple of questions. I took it on to deeply review the rubric and make adjustment to increase alignment with community based learning. Fortunately the adjustments required were small as the rubric had already considered community. The adjustments I did make made the rubric a better guide for individuals, communities, groups and institutions.

The vocabulary that ties the rubric to community;
I see it as very important that the rubric works well at guiding different individuals, groups, communities and organizations. I harvested some of the vocabulary associated with community and am grateful for this additional focus and increasing the rubrics ability to guide badge system design for communities.
  • attending an event, or participating in a community
  • encourage outstanding participation in community or event
  • people who have earned the full collection of badges are considered masters by their peers
  • earning one or many badges from within the system is considered an accomplishment by peers and community members
  • multiple learning, achievement or recognition contexts and applies well across communities, events, curriculum and cultures
  • it describes different learning, achievement or recognition approaches, associated tasks and outcomes
  • for accrediting a subject, community or event domain
  • endorsements from cross-industry / cross-subject organizations, communities and/or individuals
  • team requires strong community building, pedagogical, and/or curriculum development skills
The badge within the community;
I believe the two questions can be answered together; how does the community identify with the badge? and does the badge represent the skills, practices, participation and habits of the community?

These are questions best answered by the community itself. And the rubric is well aligned to help groups and communities ask and answer these questions. The rubrics purpose is the guide and prompt thinking about the badge system being designed. It is not used (though it can be) to evaluate existing badge systems.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A critical look at the OnPhD Candidacy badge system

As a heutagogue I currently have three main learning activities; Creating challenges into the P2Pu school of badges, learning all I can about open and digital badges, and in developing the Open and Networked PhD. These three currently come together in my building of both the P2Pu challenge on Badge System Design and in developing and completing the OnPhD candidacy challenge. I am using the badge system I have designed for the OnPhD candidacy as the badge system I am using as I work through the badge system design challenge. For a good description on the OnPhD candidacy badge system follow the embedded link. Below is my critical review of this badge system, with my assessment of where each criteria is against the badge system design rubrics performance levels;
  • Purpose: working - The badge system represents a significant accomplishment. Given it is wanting to award an equivalent to the PhD Candidacy it is unproven and unrecognized within any community.
  • Graphical Design: introductory - The mono-color badge design is very simplistic with little branding or curriculum recognition. The graphical themes are very simplistic and have no relation to the broader community within it exists.
  • Organization: notable - The badge system is well organized and progress to completion is easily understood. The organization and progression is well supported by the graphics of each badge. The images of the whole badge system ease understandability and being awarded each badge demonstrates an individual accomplishment toward the final goal of OnPhD candidacy.
  • Criteria: notable - the criteria of each badge allows is to be considered an accomplishment within itself. Each badge could also be used within a different badge or learning system with similar goals. The criteria of each badge is timeless and would apply equally well at a future time.
  • Technical Integration: introductory - the badge system has been implemented within a 3rd party badge issuing system and only has integration within the related curriculum system through the final badge within the whole system. The big risk here is the 3rd party badge issuer may not exist into the future.
  • System Integration: notable - The open and networked PhD badge system and related criteria aligns very well with the candidacy requirements found within the traditional PhD. The badging approach also integrates well the open and digital badging approaches. The choice to use both wikiversity and P2Pu was conscious due to their alignment with open and networked learning. The meta-badge issued for completing the challenge will be issued by P2Pu, further deepening the badge system integration with the learning platform.
  • Assertion: introductory - the issued badge(s) resolve back to URLs that can be confirmed within the issuer and the evidence URL's are baked into the badge.
  • Endorsement: working - the issued badges are endorsed by the OnPhD community. Both Wikiversity and P2Pu have implied endorsement of the OnPhD candidacy badge system. More official endorsement will be sought once one or two candidacies have been completed from this challenge.
  • Validity: introductory - Validity of learning is determined in how the badge evidence aligns with each badges criteria. It is to early in the badge system design to determine depth of learning for the badge earners as there are too few people who have earned the badge(s). Once a number of people have completed the OnPhD candidacy challenge, validity will be determined.
  • Development Team: working - team has two main developers, both with strong technological and pedagogical backgrounds. Development of badge criteria included input from other strong subject matter experts.

Badge System Compare and Contrast

One of my current tasks is in developing the Badge System Design challenge for the P2Pu School of Badges. This course is based around a rubric developed for badge system design. In task three of the challenge it is requested the learner reviews, compares and contrasts a number of existing badge systems, this post answers this following request from the challenge.
  1. Write a blog post or task discussion item describing what you found when exploring the different badge systems listed above. Compare and contrast the different badge systems. If you write a blog post be sure to provide the link to the post in the task discussion thread.

    • foursquare - provides a very engaging flat badge system. A great example of earning badges for simple accomplishments. In general, foursquare badges are about visiting locations. Some badges are fun accomplishments, like visiting a location of global significance. The simple graphical appeal of the badges bring a cohesiveness to the badges. The foursquare badges are not focused on accomplishing learning goals, this is not to say people would learn if they visited a museum or hardware store a number of times.
    • khan academy - provides a very comprehensive and integrated badge system. The badges are issued stealthfully when the learner completes an activity or lesson. Different scores are given for different badges, and badges are awarded for completing a number of related tasks. Khan Academy has effectively used objects in the universe (meteors, moon, earth, etc.) as the badge design theme. Badges are also grouped into programs and badges are issued for completing courses. The learning journeys associated with badge systems is not easily apparent.
    • mozilla webmaker - provides a great set of badges well aligned with their digital literacy initiative. Badges are earned stealthfully and by completing accomplishments. Their badge system is well articulated and earning pathways are easily identified. The badge design is attractive and encourages engagement and the desire to learn.
    • wikipedia - has been issuing badges (or barnstars), and should be considered one of the first online organizations to offer digital badges. Barnstars are awarded based on contribution and peer review / nomination. Most of the barnstars are stand alone and are not a part of a learning journey. Barnstars represent single accomplishments.
    • carnegie mellon robotics - provides comprehensive learning journey toward computer science use within robotics. The program includes badges awarded along the way with completed tasks. The strength with this project is the good use of learning pathways, which are easily understood.

    • compare and contrast - I believe the creation and use of learning pathways will become recognized as an important design principle when creating badge systems. These pathways can be created using traditional curriculum pathways, used during events and conferences, and by self-directed learners who are creating their own pathways. For the self-directed learner the idea of pathways aligns with personal curriculum mapping. I digress.

      Of the five badge systems above, two provide well visualized and easily understood learning pathways (mozilla webmaker & carnegie mellon robotics), one provides for ongoing learning (khan academy), and the other two are flat and provide recognition of accomplishment (foursquare & wikipedia).I believe all are successful with implementing the purpose of their badge system. I do believe the khan academy could do more with visualizing pathways for their learners for it is not immediately apparent what would be accomplished by pursuing which badges. The differences between the badge systems that support pathways and those focused on individual accomplishment show how both can be valuable in their own way, fun for the earner, have good visual appeal, and fit within the many different aspects of badge earning.