Post Flourish Badge Talk Thinking

Flourish 2012 Talk photo by @pdp7

The Flourish talk went well, at least that’s the what the feedback was.  It felt rambly to me, probably because I was having a hard time pinning down what I wanted to talk about.  Badges is a big topic, it’s a not-trivial technical implementation, and it’s a big fat topic in education circles.  I tried smooshing the two things together, a bit about badges role in education (which I’m totally unqualified to do, but I’ve never let that stop me in the past), a bit about where I thought people could fit badges into their own projects, and finally an overview of how to actually issue and earn an OBI compliant badge.

This was the first time I’d talked publicly about OpenBadges, and one of the first times anyone from the OpenBadges team has presented to a technical audience and not an education audience.  It was a good trial of the material.  Luckily, despite my jumbled thoughts, the core of the OpenBadges resonated with people, so that’s positive.  I’m going to have a second chance to present to a technical audience this Tuesday (4/10/12) at Groupon for GeekFest.  Be sure to RSVP if you’re interested in the talk.  I’m going to edit my talk based on stuff I learned at Flourish, a rough idea of the changes are here in convenient bullet form

  • The technical material should go up front, I’m going to drop the speculative section to the tail of the talk, if not drop it entirely.  It didn’t work the way I thought it would.
  • Define “digital” badges right away, they’re not as obvious as I thought they were.
  • The crowd anticipated the roadmap, including cryptographically signed badges, issuer endorsement of other issuer badges (creating a web of trust), lots of stuff. Which means we’re on the right track.  I should put in a slide of the total planned functionality relatively early in the talk, and then check things off that are complete.
  • Not be surprised by education questions, I think I mentally prepared for lots of implementation questions, but it turns out that a technical crowd still has opinions on badges as learning motivator.
  • Stop trying to be funny – I violated an old improv rule, I tried to be funny in a talk.  It totally failed.  I’m funny when I try not to be funny…when I try to be funny…it fails.  It’s a paradox.

If you were at the talk, and have any other feedback, I’d love to hear it.  Also, if you’re interested in diving deeper into the theory of badges, Erin Knight, the director of learning at the Mozilla Foundation, wrote a great blog post that acts as a reasonable primer on the space.  She answers a lot of the questions that came up on Saturday, without hearing any of them, she’s clearly psychic.

  • Avner

    I was at the talk and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    “I should put in a slide of the total planned functionality relatively
    early in the talk, and then check things off that are complete.”

    Absolutely.  Knowing what’s on the roadmap helps us come up with things that aren’t on there yet.  This was the only thing I really felt was missing from your talk.