I have to admit I have some degree of cynicism regarding some of the badge schemes that are out there – I’m waiting to be convinced that something like the Mozilla OpenBadges can service as an effective form of certification – allowing users to effectively advertise their skills, knowledge and abilities with the badges or to be useful to employers when trying to choose employees or contractors. Compared to a portfolio of work, a reference or an accredited certification scheme, the advantages of badges is somewhat lost on me.
Where badges have long been successful is at motivation – particularly for children. Hence the badge schemes of boy scouts and girl guides. A nice current example is that the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are planning a badge on Game Development. Which led me to wondering if there was something OpenBadges like more aimed at kids – with a good range of technology activities. I’m glad to say there is, and the activities look great and very varied…
At diy.org, kids can sign up to earn badges for a wide range of maker type activities – covering a really wide and nice range of interests. From Block Builder to Tape Ninja or Fashion Designer, or from Illustrator to Hardware Hacker or Gardener, the badges really do cover a fantastic range of interests, and nicely put all of these on a level with each other. There has been some thought into this that all these activities are for kids, any kids, and there is no need to filter activities by gender roles or some perceived coolness. So while there are a lot of technology oriented badges, the real common ground between all activities is simply making – whether a cake or a computer program, all forms of creative endeavours are encouraged. Each badge requires completion of three challenges out of a list, and these tend to all include something simple to get started with and move onto more complicated or involving tasks.
Safety issues have been considered as well. At sign up, a parent’s email address is required, and the parent then gets to authorize accounts and has oversight of posts made, photos or videos submitted to complete challenges and any comments/communications through the site.
From my very limited experience so far with it with children, as soon as they have completed the first activity, kids will be straight into planning and working out what badges and challenges to tackle next.
And in a nice touch, there is a badge for starting a DIY club and getting friends involved too.