You don’t have to speak the same language to adopt badges

Pine cone 

…you just have to adopt the same metadata standard.


I’m not sure where to start with this Inside Higher Education article by Colin Mathews entitled Unwelcome Innovation.

Here are some assertions from the article:

  • “Early on, digital badges often used Boy and Girl Scout badges as an analogy, but the more direct precursor of the current generation of badge solutions is video games.” (Nope.)
  • “Badge adherents aim to address the “value” and portability of badges by attaching proof of skills to the badges themselves. This is the same idea behind e-portfolios…” (No, e-portfolios are fundamentally different to badges)
  • “Credentials, in and of themselves, are a solved problem.” (Ha! If only.)
  • “What’s clear is this: it’s far, far more important to simply document existing credentials than to invent new ones, or a new language to describe them.” (No, that just makes it easier to preserve the status quo.)
  • “Connecting students’ skills and ambitions to the pathways to a career is a big deal, but it doesn’t require a new language that’s based on techno-solutionist fantasies.” (Yes it does: words have power to describe new realities.)

It’s unclear what point the author is trying to make. He assumes that Open Badges is, somehow, solely focused on Higher Education. This is far from the case. He also begins the article by saying that to “better communicate the value and variety of people’s skills to employers” is “very valuable”. This is exactly what Open Badges offers! Oh, and I’m calling B.S. on his claim that he was part of the “biggest, most comprehensive badge experiment that no one has heard of”. 

Ultimately, I don’t think that Mathews, who looks like he’s got skin in the game with a siloed competitor to badges, would know a metadata standard if one turned into a wet fish and slapped him the face. Perpetuating what we’ve got in Higher Education isn’t working in terms of employability of graduates. And for everyone else outside of the ivory tower, what’s the problem with creating a new learning currency?

Ordinarily, I would merely roll my eyes at this kind of article, as it’s the type of thing you find on a startup’s blog that no-one ever reads. But seeing as Inside Higher Ed saw fit to publish it on their site, here’s what I can be bothered to provide by means of pointing out flaws in an article that, unlike the rest of us, is by an author tearing down rather than building up.

Image via Nomad Pictures