More on Badges and Assessment

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jun 15, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Wiley follows up an earlier post on badges and assessment. Since direct measurement of what's in a person's brain is impossible, he argues, we stimulate external performances in order to provide evidence of learning. This evidence is then used in a number of ways, from allowing a person to performing a job, to enter graduate school (where you will produce more evidence) or skip some other assessment. A badge is a form of evidence. But it is manifestly not the activity that resulted in the evidence. Nor (therefore) is it directly the evidence of your learning. It is a pointer to the fact that some such evidence was, at some time, produced. "You see that a badge is a proxy for evidence, which evidence itself is a proxy for what a person 'actually knows or can do.';" It saves other people the effort of checking the evidence directly. Why is all this important? Wiley argues, "I hope that as a community we will commit to being agnostic with regard to (1) the activity, (2) the evidence, and (3) the judgment." I agree.

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