Learning Pathways, Badges, and Models in the Web Literacy Map Development

Learning Pathways, Badges, and Models in the Web Literacy Map Development

TL;DR: In this post I provide an overview of the work conducted on the web literacy map learning pathways, specifically the privacy pathway and associated badges. At the bottom of the post I give the link to review the notes from the #openbadges call on 1/28/2015.

Work on the web literacy map is progressing at a good pace. At this point in the new year we’re taking time to review the work conducted over the past year, and make real decisions about what we’d like to close the case on, and what should be reopened.

Before the end of 2014 we knocked out a lot of work quickly in the working groups because we had a deadline imposed on our work. We had to decide what deliverables to produce, and as a result got stuff done. In hindsight it appears the working groups model had some merit because (I can speak for our group) we got it done.

Learning Pathways

What we accomplished during that time period was to develop a learning pathway for one of our competencies, specifically the privacy badge. For example, if you start with the Web Literacy Map, my advice is to immediately start drilling down, in this case we’d focus on the connecting strand. From there we selected the privacy competency. We selected privacy because it’s honestly at the top of our minds as we conduct this work. More importantly, I’m very much concerned about the privacy and security of students and educators that I help work with digital texts and tools.

For the privacy competency, we developed a learning pathway. A learning pathway, as it applies to the web literacy work is defined as follows:

Web Literacy Map badge pathways highlight opportunities to develop deeper understanding about reading, creating, writing and participating in the web. Each pathway corresponds to a concept within the map and contains a small number of experiences (and a small number of relevant examples of where the competency is used) recommended to support learning about the central concept.

What is important about learning pathways, is that any individual can learn what they want, when they want, how they want. In professional development and conference planning, we would talk about a common assured/shared experience. Basically, what is the one thing that someone will definitely get from this their time with us. Learning pathways takes this a step further and tries to document how and what you should learn. The purpose is that a learner might want to some guidance on what this all means, but not want a scripted curriculum.

Privacy Learning Pathway

My thinking about the web literacy map is that we’ve got a good chunk of the initial framing completed, I think the best way to understand what works and what is missing is to field test, and build in assessments for the work. This is why I love the idea of learning pathways for each competency. I also value the addition of badges for the completed learning. The badges would serve as a marker of accomplishment, assessment, and marker of identity all in one.

The ultimate deliverable for the working group was the learning pathways and five badges for the privacy competency. You can review the deliverable by clicking here…I’ll embed it below. I recommend reviewing the deliverable…it’s interesting stuff. You can read more about this work at Doug’s post. We advocated the creation of five badges:

  1. Identifying rights retained and removed through user agreements
  2. Taking steps to secure non-encrypted connections
  3. Explaining ways in which computer criminals are able to gain access to user information
  4. Managing the digital footprint of an online persona
  5. Identifying and taking steps to keep important elements of identity private

Digital Badges for Digital Achievement

While we were completing the privacy learning pathways and badging ecosystem, we had dialogue about the “so what” of our work. None of the regulars on the call wanted to see their work/time wasted. We wanted to see some good come of this work. We want to offer these badges in the wild…and start building up the other learning pathways and badges for all of the competencies on the web literacy map. The discussion about how to offer these badges raised some debate…and it still continues. In my naive understanding of badging lore…this is interesting stuff.

We could have the privacy learning pathway badges be offered by Mozilla. They would no doubt have Mozilla cred, and look sexy…or as Doug would call it…shiny. We could offer the badges ourselves…as the members of the working group. We’d build them and issue them somewhere online. Earners would look at the badges and try to evaluate the value and relevance of this credential, and whether or not they want to spend the time earning it. I wrote a bit about these evaluations in an earlier post. The challenge (and opportunity) is that we own and issue these badges. We’re (somewhat) credible, we know about the content because we’re writing it. People also know Doug, and he has street cred. Me…no one will care about badges from Ian. 🙂

The third model, the one that I’m the most intrigued by is a federated system of badges. I’ll write about federation later on, for now, the best definition of federation comes from the EFF. With a federated model, you’re relying on the connections and context of your digital content. To understand how this relates to our badges and the learning pathways…we would take our privacy pathway badges to a group that would promote these ideals. As an example, we’d go to EFF or Cory Doctorow and explain our motives. We’d ask them to issue the badges, or at least put their stamp of approval on the badges. That way the cognitive authority, rigor, and relevance of their name gives our badges a little more credibility. As an added bonus, we also expand the web literacy work a bit more, and make more connections online.

Open Badges Community Call

I was on the open badges community call last week to discuss this work, and the potential for these badges. You can review the notes and listen to the recording here. I realized that I need to spend more time back on the open badges calls. 🙂 I have been thinking a lot about values, badges, and the federated model after the badges calls. I also believe that our inertial thinking about a federated model of badges for the web literacy map was not naive at all…and might offer a future alternative of badging ecosystems.



Image CC BY 1.0 Wikipedia


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