Why Edtech Badges, Why Now?

20120906-063729.jpg #edtech #edchat This past summer at a technology conference I attended a session on edtech badges, I found it to be very interesting and in-line with the work I had been doing with my own students for the past year. Then the woman next to me whispered to her friend in disgust, “This is ridiculous, students should learn for the love of learning and not for some silly badge.” The friend mumbled something back in agreement and then promptly left the session. I was left sitting at my skinny little conference table in shock.

How can teachers be so naïve? Do we really thing this generation of students want to learn for the sheer joy of learning? Who are they trying to kid? Research (1) shows that this new crop of students are motivated by three things; choice, effort and persistence. All three of which are part of a solid badge program, joy of learning is not.

Choice: when I recently announced to my students all of the optional edtech badges they could earn (30 plus badges now), they cheered. They love the idea of being able to choose there learning path. Some students loved the idea of a videography strand, where others were more interested in the LEGO engineering strand.

Effort: Students want to know that their effort will be recognized. This is something that badges do really well. Every badge has an element of “sharing” so they get a chance to show the world what they have done as well as a badge they proudly wear on their backpack.

Persistence: Students truly, deep down inside of themselves, do not want badges to to easy to earn. They want them to require some persistence -- this is what gets the respect of their peers. One of the hardest badges to earn in our school is the coveted Director's Badges, which is really hard to get since we only make three movies a year.

So my teachers who sat next to me at that convention, I hope that your little “Badges! We don't need stinkin' badges!” world you live in is working for you, but for the rest of us, badges could just be the thing to get our students the tech skills that they so desperately need.

(1) http://www.uww.edu/learn/motivating_students.php