Over the past few weeks, I’ve had lots of in-depth conversations with many people about the badges project. The conversations have been helpful in terms of clarifying the purpose and value of badges, as well as defining a product roadmap for the near term future.
I’d like to share a summary of where we are now.
PART 1: VALUE
First, a reminder of the value of badges to learners and mentors:
- Structure and self-tracking—badges provide clear pathways for learning and contribution
- Professional development, reputation, and career advancement—badges provide clear pathways for increasing skills and knowledge, are perceived as evidence of mastery and expertise, and are connected to specific projects of which the recipient is proud
- Recognition—badges provide a concrete way to recognize people’s contributions and accomplishments
- Motivation—badges can keep people engaged and desiring to progress through a pathway. Badges can also be used to engage new/bashful learners
- Relevance—badges are connected to things people care about
And the reasons badges are important to the Webmaker program:
- Pathways—badges provide primary navigation for people entering the fold
- Proof of learning / metrics — badges provide a concrete way for us to measure learning in our on-the-ground programming and online trainings
- Partner strategy — when paired with a rigorous curriculum, badges provide a framework for certifying a learner’s digital literacy skills and competencies. This has significant appeal to many of our partners.
- Growing user base — badges provide a significant incentive for learners connected to a ground game effort (e.g. Maker Party, Club, or Hive) to join the broader community (and be made aware of the full range of our offerings)
- Recognizing local leaders — the “Mentor,” “Super Mentors,” “Club Captain,” and “Hive Community Member” badges convey social status and legitimacy
PART 2: BADGE OFFERINGS
As a team, the next thing to do is get on the same proverbial page about our canonical badge offerings, as well as consider changes to our issuing scheme to allow us to scale. Based on input from many people, I’d like to propose the following for our suite of Webmaker Contributor badges for 2015:
(Please note: this list is not finalized)
Contributor badges issued by staff:
- Event Host
- Teaching Kit Remixer
- Club Captain (New!)
- Hive Community Member
- Super Mentor
(At least a couple of the above might eventually be automatically awarded by the system based on a user’s activity on the site)
Contributor badges issued by Mentors, Super Mentors, and Club Captains:
- Mentor (issued by Super Mentors and staff only)
- Skill Sharer
- Participation badges (this is a collection of badges Club Captains may want to issue to their Club members to recognize participation and effort. We’ll be examining these requirements during the rest of Q1.)
We also need to finalize a canonical list of Web Literacy Badges. The current list needs refining, based on upcoming changes to the Web Literacy Map. More to come on this soon!
PART 3: PRODUCT ROADMAP
Thanks to these rich conversations with stakeholders, I’ve become familiar with the tooling we have around badges now, as well as some of the desired changes to the user experience and functionality.
A high-level version of the product roadmap for badges is as follows, though it’s unlikely we’ll build in the exact order presented below:
a) Clearly present our badge offerings and highlight learning pathways
Once we finalize the badge offerings, we’ll build a landing page that showcases and clearly differentiates the several types of badges we offer. The landing page will illustrate the progressive nature of our badge offerings, and serve as navigation through our program offerings.
b) Improve user experience for badge earners
We’ll make a few key improvements to the badge application workflow, including allowing applicants to view the status of their pending applications, and edit their submissions while they’re pending.
We’ll create a Badge Manager page for mentors and learners. From the Badge Manager page, people will be able to:
- see the badges they’ve earned, including the evidence that was provided
- share their earned badges, and invite or nominate others to also earn them
- see their pending applications, and respond to any questions from reviewers
- see recommended badges (based on previously earned badges and our pathways)
c) Improve user experience for badge issuers
We’ll also make some improvements to the badge issuing dashboard:
- Allow badge issuers option to receive notifications or emails about new badge applications
- Show counts of outstanding applications, and provide multiple views of outstanding applications (e.g. by submission date, by badge type)
- Provide search tool for issued badges, with criteria such as issue date, badge type, or reviewer (the search results will be exportable, enabling us to contact everyone who’s received a certain badge, for example)
We’ll improve the design of the application reviewer pane by including (in addition to the applicant-provided evidence):
- badge criteria
- information about the applicant, including other badges received/applied for
d) Let Club Captains issue badges to their Club members
With the launch of the Clubs program, we’ll have a need to grant badge-issuing privileges to Club Captains. The permissions may be limited in two ways:
- They’ll be able to grant badges only to members of their Club (this will require creating a connection between individuals and Clubs on the backend)
- They may only be able to grant Web Literacy and participation badges
All of the above is now reflected on the Badges wiki page. Would welcome feedback in the comments.