Badges as a Mark of Mastery

As I read more about badges being used to celebrate earned achievements, the more I think it would not only let others know what you can do and how well but it would reduce the gap in understanding what you yourself know and how well you know it (a problem I wrestle with almost daily).

There’s suddenly become a lot of talk about scouting badges in the gamification arena. I was a Brownie in a troop that didn’t concern itself with badges, but I’d see them in the handbook and want to earn them. I’d pick out skills that sounded cool and wish and wish and wish for the chance to earn the badge. Coincidentally, one of my very first curriculum development projects was creating programs designed to help Boy Scouts earn a handful of science and history badges through a local museum. The thing with scouting badges is that you are given a selection of eight to fifteen projects, of which you have to complete a certain portion to qualify for the badge. It’s project-based. You actually learn something from it. And depending on your troop, it can often be built upon and become the base for higher-level scouting projects, college major selections, or careers. The badge program provides an opportunity to genuinely explore a topic or skill set, and the badge is just the proof to others that you put forth that effort. (From what I understand, this is also how Q2L’s Skill Profile works.)

What makes Global Kids’ program different is that, while the required skills and activities are laid out, you can work on one of three areas for each skill, those areas relating to the famous see-think-do quote that dogs educators. It also contains a scoring rubric to help determine how well the learner mastered a skill, not unlike the class mastery rubric I shared on Gameful a couple of months ago.

And on this same track of “questing” toward skill development and mastery is WoW’s leveling system (and I should check that out for myself pretty soon). You don’t just earn levels because you’re there. You don’t just earn the levels because you put in time grinding. You earn the levels because you complete each little quest, usually designed to build on an earlier quest, as you work toward your next level in that skill. And people do it willingly all the time!

Using badges to assess and motivate students can lead to a better communication between teacher and student of where the student is in the teacher’s view.

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