Friday, December 23, 2011

Badges for teachers (#change11)

It seems to me that there is something vitally important missing from this whole badges concept - the reputation of the teacher. The reputation of the software or human teacher which awards the badge is paramount in determining the value of the badge as a means of showing skills acquired. And the best assessors of the quality of the teacher is the employer, parent and student. There needs to be a badges system for teachers if a badges system is to work at all.

Below is a concept diagram of the inter-relationship between teacher, student and employer in the current credentializing system.

The student is happy with how they have been able to apply their learning to their employment and employment prospects
The employer is happy with skills and knowledge of student
The student is assessed to have aquired skills and knowledge from a teacher
A credential has been given and the teacher's reputation has been enhanced.

I am proposing here a system like the one below:

A "badges for teachers" system would track a person's teachers and then having employers assess the skill set of the employee and then award a badge to that set of teachers and, over time, the teachers of higher quality would acquire more badges and hence a greater reputation amongst employers. Employers would be able to give subject specific badges (eg: math) to indicate that the employee has a good overall knowledge of maths. All of the employee's teachers would receive the collective badge. If an employer sends an employee off to learn something specific then they can award a badge for that skill directly to that teacher. By awarding the badge to the teachers the employer is also reinforcing the credential of the employee.

For school teachers these badges could be awarded by parents up to a certain age, say 16, and then awarded by the students themselves. Parents and students would be able to award badges to individual teachers or to a school of teachers in a given year. For tertiary teachers these badges would be awarded by students only.

The value of the badges awarded by the teacher is related to the number of badges the teacher has received. Earning badges from good teachers becomes more valuable over time as the teacher receives more badges. This would allow for parents to 'invest' in their child's education by selecting teachers they feel would be better for their child in the long run.

Running parallel to this system could be one for teachers awarding badges to teachers to indicate collegiality and professionalism to further enhance the reputation of the teacher.

I'm not sure whether this is a new idea but I am sure there is more work to be done on this idea, so I would appreciate any feedback at all, constructive or otherwise.


  1. Love your thinking here for these ideas must be explored. Questions: How will the employer assess a teacher earning a badge? What evaluation system and based on what standards and assessments, e.g. peer, student, parent, student test scores, student competency, Carnegie Units, Common Core assessments, other performance evaluations, meeting standards (which ones? state, Common Core), Marzano, Danielson, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Center for Educational Leadership's 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning - some of the standard thinking out there? Will the assessment include more forward thinking, e.g. badges, Leading Edge online teaching certification? What role does teacher leadership play,

    Look forward to your feedback, thinking.

  2. Hi Ehvickery. Thanks for the questions.

    First of all, there would be no need for an employer to assess a teacher when awarding a badge. The employer awards the badge via the employee. Basically, all the employer is saying is, "I think this person has had a good education," thus recognising all of the teachers that person had.

    Secondly,we aren't necessarily replacing the credential, as much as we are enhancing it. For example, my wife worked in place that handled chemicals. Some of the employers did a required and accredited chemical handling course and received a certificate to say they attended the course and are now allowed to handle certain chemicals. But most of the employees never followed through with what they learnt in the course. In this instance the employer would not award a badge to the teacher because there was no learning from their perspective.

    The evaluation of the teacher comes via the badges themselves. The teacher is evaluated by the student's, parent's and employer's impression of whether or not the teacher has educated someone. The teacher's ability to teach is evaluated by the output not a standard. The more badges a teacher has the more valuable the badges that teacher gives becomes.

  3. In the end, either the employee has the skills to meet the employer's needs or not. Badges are like Grade 12 diplomas - do they mean anything or not - very difficult to know. Think a student needs to build a learning portfolio and be prepared to demonstrate those skills in a workplace-related scenario.
    A few years ago when my daughter was in university, I would google her lecturers' names. Having nothing show up on a google search was a confidence breaker. Who doesn't have a digital footprint? What would a badge mean if it were issued by someone or some institution that may or may not be legitimate?

  4. All very good questions Ruth. I think it is difficult to know the value of the diploma because there is no feedback on the quality of the teaching that provided the diploma. All Grade 12 Diplomas are created equal. Yet an A+ from one teacher is not the same as an A+ from another. So who decides the quality of the learning and the grade? I'm suggesting it should be the users of the learning - students, parents and employers. There are teachers from my children's schooling that I would love to award a badge or something similar to.

  5. The opportunities for gaming this system are rife, yet I like the idea as an informal measure of how much capacity the teacher is adding to the system. It should never be used as an external motivator. Here is an article that resonates on this idea:

  6. Your article has given me something to think about David, particularly in relation to this idea. I'll have to mull over it and re-read your article over the next couple of days.

  7. Sorry, I mean tellio. I still had the article author's name in my head when I wrote the above.

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