I recently published an article about the many reasons people are using digital badges, so here is the flip side…reasons why people are not using them.
1. “Open what?”
The entire concept is still in its infancy and most people still don’t know anything about digital badges.
2. “Why would I use them?” (Unaware of the Possibilities)
For those who have heard about digital badges, most still have limited understanding of their affordances and limitations. There are not many resources that explain different usage scenarios in a quick and easy to understand format. We have the cases from the Digital Media and Learning Competition a few years ago, but beyond that, there are not many places to go and look through examples of how badges are being used.
3. “I’m not sure how to get started.”
This is true from a technical and a planning perspective. What tools are available to help me get started with digital badges? I put together this list to help a bit. However, then there is also the challenge of figuring out how to design a badge. Many of the writings and guides so far are extremely helpful for those of us with a team of designers and lots of resources. However, these same guides can also be intimidating for the classroom teacher wanting to try a small and simple badge design. For example, Sheryl Grant’s newly published text is an excellent guide, but it might it may be too much for an individual wanting to dabble with badges. So, we still need to add some simple guides that address everything from the technical to the strategic…guides that are substantive but directed at multiple user levels. With that said, issuing options like Credly.com make it pretty easy to get started. By the way, the MozillaWiki has some suggestions for getting started.
4. “I don’t want to look like a fool.”
Educators are usually pretty adventurous people, willing try new things granted that they have relative confidence and competence with it. As a rule, people don’t like trying things only to have them break in the middle of a lesson. Because badges are new and many (but not all) of the early options for issuing badges are early versions, people still hold back because they don’t want to be embarrassed if things don’t work out. Or, even with the user-friendly options for issuing badges, there are unanswered questions about security and privacy. There are answers to these questions, but it takes time to work through them and find a single source to help with all these answers in a quick and easy way.
5. “I’m not a techie.” (It is still largely a do-it-yourself movement)
As I’ve mentioned, there are several easy use options, but a number of the technical solutions still require comfort with the technical side of things, especially if you have a specific usage scenario in mind. This is being addressed in learning management systems like Blackboard, Moodle and Canvas; as well as with options like BadgeOS (a WordPress plug-in…but there is still a small measure of technical know-how needed to get things set up with this option). As more apps and software solutions build the option of badging into their systems, this will definitely help move the movement beyond the DIY stage.
6. “Where do I go for help?”
The Badge Alliance is a growing and vibrant community of people interested open badges. Yet, it largely consists of people willing to geek out a bit. There are still fewer one-stop options for the beginner with little to no budget. Again, there are options available, but not a large number of them.
7. “I don’t like carrot and stick tactics.”
Some think of badges as mainly an extrinsic motivation tool. When they hear about badges, they conjure up images of behaviorist, Pavlovian classrooms, where students are behaving to get an educational equivalent of a dog biscuit. This is in direct opposition to the educational philosophy of many of us as educators. I try to tackle this issue in a recent post titled, Beware of Badges as Biscuits.
8. “People Don’t Value Them.”
I’ve heard well-known and respected speakers propagate this one, noting that badges as credentials are not valued by companies, so there is question about their value. This is understandable. Badges are a new currency and there is still need to but trust networks around badge systems.
9. “I’m using badges already. Is there a difference between what I’m doing and open badges?”
Some are using badges in systems like Schoology, but they are closed badge systems. Many don’t know the differences, but there are huge ones. Check out this blog post for the distinction.
10. “I have trouble taking them seriously.”
I still find more than a few people who giggle when I talk about badges with a straight face. They explain that it conjures up images of Boy Scout and Girl Scout sashes, and it seems a bit childish to them. So, some quickly relegate badges to something fit for the elementary school classroom. This conversation is part of what has sparked debates about whether to use the term badges or micro-crdentials. As far as I’m concerned, the word “badges” is here to stay and this perception will change. It is just going to take time and a few more highly successful, high profile badge systems. Or, just browse the list of badge issuers at Credly for a sense of the diverse organizations are taking badges seriously (YMCA, Modern Museum of Art, Dartmouth and dozens of Universities, NYC Department of Education, Educause, The Smithsonian, etc.).
11. “What do I do with them?”
I know that I already got to ten, but here is a last one from the user perspective. Some people are using open badges, but what do the badge earners do with them? There are many answers to this, but there is still confusion around the subject. Plenty of people remain a bit confused about how their backpack works and where/how to display their badges, and how to do it. By the way, here is the Mozilla Open Badge answer to this question.