Badges: talking at cross purposes?

Apr 02, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The world is a complex place. The only way to deal with it is is to simply - to create abstractions, or as I would say, to identify and recognize patterns in the phenomena. When we teach, we often take the short-cut of teaching these simplifications directly, rather than having students identify and recognize them for themselves. This may be more efficient - there's no shortage of studies that show this - but each time we teach a simplification, we make it harder for students to recognize new or alternative patterns in the same phenomena. But complex phenomena are dynamic, changing, and the simplifications are rarely valid for long. It's better to learn how to recognize patterns for oneself, to cope with this changing phenomena. The use of badges to recognize learning exaggereates that problem, because badges tend to privilege the learning of simplifications. That's the argument - and it's a good argument - you can extract from this discussion if you stick with it from the initial exhange between Doug Belshaw and Dave Cormier, then the follow-up post by Terry Wassall and though to the comments on that post.
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