“Digital Badges” by John K. Waters

I think the main thrust of this article is the following:

People are very excited about the possibility of opening up new pathways for learning, of making it possible for students coming out of high schools—but not necessarily going to college—to show competence,” says Alexander Halavais, associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “The college career path is a very narrow one, and it’s expensive. Everyone shouldn’t have to go down the same road, and digital badges have the potential to provide a system for giving credit for doing valuable, marketable things outside of school.” (p. 15)

It is an interesting idea and argument, but Halavais’s comment about (and conflation of) “valuable, marketable things” concerns me. I’m no pie-in-the-sky liberal arts militant, who thinks that learning should only ever be for learning’s sake, and any considerations of marketability or jobs in an educational track can only be profane. However, Halavais does seem to go—or land, or exist—too far in the other direction, I think. I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there thinking about the difference between, the issues surrounding, education and/vs. credentialing.

Ultimately (as it’s presented in this article, at least), I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between the OBI and “[some] third-party issuer who says you have a diploma or a degree” (p. 17). And, while I definitely think higher ed (and contemporary society, in general) needs to find ways to think more about decentralization, wouldn’t such a credentialing system (as framed by the OBI) potentially be even more centralized and authoritarian than the current system of transcripts and resumes?

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One thought on ““Digital Badges” by John K. Waters

  1. Pingback: Jordan Shapiro, “Here’s Why We Need Video Games In Every Classroom” | DMDL blog

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