…my thinking about comments in  Re: More hack, less yak!

Badges, streams, oh my… As a long time advocate for open, self-directed learning, I have been concerned about learners figuring out where they are and what they might reasonably learn next – a path (aka stream). If learners aren’t being directed by instructors, how are they going to know what they don’t know? You have to understand the math before you will understand the physics, for example but this might not be obvious to the adventurous independent learner.

Is this another aspect of badges in the question Verena’s colleague asked? What does the badge represent? Looking at the descriptions for badges created to date, there isn’t much meat or direction.  I can look up a comprehensive list of requirements for a Boy Scout badge.

BSA Aviation Merit Badge requirements

Where is there work going into the conventions for defining requirements and streams that will make this endeavor meaningful? So far there isn’t any way to distinguish between a weekly attendance award badge, a high school graduation certificate, a military area of specialization and a college degree. Today, badges are … well, badges.

Badges could be the driver for creating “paths” as I envision them. Learners may be willing, but they still need guidance. Whether it is defining required pre-knowledge or offering alternative strategies for approaching a complex idea,  learners will always need this level of support. “You only learn what you almost know.” But how do you know when there is a gap? That’s where the path idea comes in. Until that gets rolling, the Boy Scouts have this badge thing sewn up.


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