“Badges ruin intrinsic motivation!”
How many times have we heard this? But what about Grades? Grades can also do much to damage the intrinsic motivation of a student and is often very limiting in helping students understand where they failed an assignment or subject. This is where badges could help.
Badges can be a nice addition to the grading system by demonstrating academic accomplishments and providing more specific feedback to students, all within a hierarchical playing field. By leveling up through achievements and collecting badges along the way, students can visualize their standing in competencies and calculate their steps to the end goal of mastery.
Global Kids, Inc. notes that badges “support learners to give language to and value what they are learning, by offering names for their new competencies and providing a venue that recognizes their importance.”
But badging can fail epically if not used in the right way. Global Kids looks closely at badging systems designed for learning and offers six ways to inform understanding in our emerging badging ecology. It’s worth a full read if you’re seriously considering badges for your classroom.
Why do you want to use badges? The following list might help answer that question:
Badges as Alternative assessment—Badges are viewed as a vehicle for providing evidence- based assessment and correcting key flaws in the formal K-12 learning environment through a model of alternative assessment.
Gamifying Education with Badges—Badging systems can also be seen as a subset of ways to gamify education and be used in coordination with such things as point systems and leader- boards.
Badges as Learning Scaffolding—Badges reveal multiple pathways that youth may follow and make visible the paths youth eventually take. Scaffolding in a learning environment refers to providing guidance for youth to encounter learning opportunities that engage them at their level of ability before taking them to the next.
Badges to develop Livelong Learning Skills—Badges are viewed as a tool for developing the metacognitive skills required by today’s youth to succeed in the classrooms, workforce, and civic spaces of the 21st Century.
Badges as DML Driver—Badges are viewed as a praxis to undermine the deficiencies within current learning environments and spread Digital Media & Learning Practices practices.
Badges to Democratize Learning—Some badge systems are designed to democratize the learning process, to change who does the assessment and what affect the learners have over their learning environment. Learners can shape the content of their badging system and per- haps even the structure itself.
In conclusion, Teched Up Teacher Chris Aviles, offers this sage advice for those of you still on the fence about it:
“It is clear that intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation isn’t black and white, but gray. The reality is our best students don’t need badges or even Gamification to be successful. Your best students will perform well no matter what system you install in your classroom. . . . Can badges zap a kid’s intrinsic motivation? Absolutely. It happens, but not nearly at the frequency people believe it does. I’m starting my third year using Gamification and I’ve never seen it, but I have seen the power that unlocking an Achievement has on a student’s self-esteem. Gamification is about bringing the bottom up and badges done well are an important part of that process.”
And once you come down off the fence, check out this article on 5 Awesome Resources for Badges in the Classroom to get started!