On Education, Badges and Scouting

Aaron Silvers, Weblog, Jul 28, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout (we don't have Eagle Scouts in Canada) and collected my share of badges. And so I can certainly see the applicability of the badges idea to education. Aaron Silvers writes, "If you’re a fan of what Foursquare and other gamification approaches to badges, then it’s simply a rewards or achievements layer that you slap on top of an existing experience." Now the system in Canada was a bit different, but the idea was the same. "Merit badges were/are focused on key skills.... evidenced by a subject matter expert who was your coach in that domain." The key here, notes Silvers, was that "we have to really think about what it means to have experts to coach and mentor the different badges we might want for public education. 500 badges to choose from, as Thomas Vander Ark poses even hypothetically, requires a level of coordination that is difficult for teachers, administrators and parents alike to imagine, even if both groups could agree that this is the right idea."

Related: long and detailed article from Mashable on gamification; recommended as a way to get the lay of the land.
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