Attending the Digital Media & Learning Conference leads to more badging ideas

Exit strategy image of Chicago skyline as approached by Amtrak train (from south)
Exit strategy by bagaball on Flickr. CC BY license.

It was inevitable, taking the train to Chicago and spending 3 days with a super-diverse crowd of learners, educators, hackers, makers, academics, and civil servants was going to lead to a badge-fest of some sort. Open.Michigan has spent some time working in the badge-o-sphere, helping with advisory on the Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure, piloting badges for our open community at the University of Michigan, and proposing some research on making badge systems more tuned to differences in cultural capital. Day One of the conference, Mozilla’s entire Open Badges team showed up and launched Open Badges 1.0, after a couple of years of hard work pulling together specs and building an incredible backpack display service. No matter what people actually do with badging, this system is slick, simple to use, and has loads of potential for peer and professional recognition of identity, skills, and engagement. Given the passion, organization, and money behind badging, I’d say it’s going somewhere and its our job to make it useful.

And that’s when I learned the newest high school in my area is gearing up for badging. Led by a forward-thinking group of students, educators, and academics, the Skyline High School is exploring how badges can be used to recognize learning and skill development both inside and outside the classroom. One of the content areas they’re interested in is Health and Medicine (warning: auto-audio on this page!). As I looked closer, I noticed that Skyline students can participate in a summer camp focusing on health and biomedical engineering. As an official employee of the University of Michigan Medical School my jaw dropped. Badges! For medicine! For everyone!

I’ve since reined in my excitement slightly, but I’ll be talking with the Skyline badging group in the coming weeks to see what’s going on there. Here’s where I think Open.Michigan and the Office of Enabling Technologies (within Medical School Information Services) can help:

  • provide infrastructure for awarding and displaying badges (through Mozilla’s Open Badges Backpack and through Open.Michigan’s platform: OERbit)
  • connect Med School faculty with Skyline teachers
  • develop mentorship opportunities through the badging system or in conjunction with it
  • provide guidance on identity-based learning development in health and medical education
  • bring awareness of badging to Med School admissions and faculty
  • provide infrastructure for Skyline students to develop and share artifacts of learning (evidence behind earning associated badges)

The list could go on, but these seem like immediately possible avenues of congruency. Honestly, there’s nothing more exciting than traveling long distances only to come upon something cool happening in your own backyard. A win for the DML Conference. A win for community.

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