Category Archives: Digital Badges

Designing a Hive Badge Ecosystem – Attributes

Previous posts in this series have discussed the structure and contributors to a Hive digital badge ecosystem. In this post, we will explore the attributes that will define these badges.

A Hive is a beautiful, complex, busy thing. Activity in a Hive, or #hivebuzz, takes many shapes and forms from the serendipitous or programatic connection between two educators at a local Hive meetup, to complex multi-organizational, cross-city partnerships pursuing big-budget funding, to Maker Parties: local community catalytic events with a Global connection. So, how do we focus and narrow down a Hive Global Badges Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for Summer 2014?

What We Value Most

Working within the Community Badge framework allows us to balance those global community attributes with the very unique local activities that express them. Focusing our attention on the professional activities of our practitioners further narrows the playing field. But what specific attributes will we tackle?

In order to test this model and to minimize the need for new design or spin our wheels on badges that are only marginally valuable to our members, we need to identify those connected learning attributes that are already the most clearly Hive-y.

STEP 1: Attribute Strands

We began our conversation at the 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning (#SRL14) by considering all of the Connected Learning attributes and voting (+1) on those that the Hive delegation at #SRL14 viewed as the most critical to Hive success: 

Learning Principles

    • Interest-powered +1+1+1
    • Peer-supported+1
    • Academically oriented

Design Principles

    • Production-centered +1+1+1
    • Openly networked +1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1
    • Shared purpose +1+1+1+1+1+1

Core Values

    • Equity +1+1+1
    • Social Connection +1+1+1+1+1+1
    • Full Participation +1+1+1

The clear winner was Openly Networked, followed closely by Shared Purpose and Social Connection. Those attributes are not surprising if you’ve ever spent time in a Hive. The established networks have all grown through a process of member mission/vision alignment and relationship building. Hive meetups feel like a friendly gatherings and places where our communities normalize their work with each other. This is done through information sharing in an openly networked fashion, person-to-person and online.

STEP 2: Attribute Expressions

So what does “Openly Networked” mean? Connectedlearning.tv offers the following description:

Connected learning environments are designed around networks that link together institutions and groups across various sectors, including popular culture, educational institutions, home, and interest communities. Learning resources, tools, and materials are abundant, accessible and visible across these settings and available through open, networked platforms and public-interest policies that protect our collective rights to circulate and access knowledge and culture. Learning is most resilient when it is linked and reinforced across settings of home, school, peer culture and community.

So what does this mean for a Hive professional learning community? Well, much the same. We asked our representatives at #SRL14 to contribute how they see this attribute was expressed in their local Hives. The most popular were:

    • Inviting peers to observe programs and practices+1+1+1+1
    • Understanding and communicating partner organization’s functions (what they can do for the Hive and how can we scratch each other’s backs) +1+1
    • Able to identify who is within the network and what their contribution level is+1
    • Intentionally including others / networking with intention / collaboration ecosystem +1+1+1
    • Integrated approach of participating in cross-sector possibilities e.g. digital media, STEM, STEAM, arts, youth development, etc.+1+1
    • Clearly articulating resources your org can share with the network +1+1+1+1
    • Transparency+1+1
    • Sharing your work – outcomes and challenges+1
    • sharing data / creating structured data collection systems +1+1+1
    • Documenting and sharing useful processes – curriculum, brainstorming and design process, outcomes +1+1+1+1

STEP 3: Summer 2014 Attributes

The recurring themes of  linking, sharing, cross-sector collaboration, visibility and preserving the rights of equitable access are reinforced in both descriptions. So while “Openly Networked” is a very broad concept that would be matched by extensively vague criteria, the most popular community attributes above are more concrete:

    1. Inviting peers to observe programs and practices.
    2. Clearly articulating resources your org can share with the network.
    3. Documenting and sharing useful processes – curriculum, brainstorming and design process, outcomes.

These three attributes will become the foundation of the Summer 2014 Hive Global Community Badges. A Community Badge diagram for our top 3 Connected Learning Attribute “Strands”, and our top 3 Openly Networked Attributes is displayed below.

A schematic representation of how local Hive member contributor badges create pathways to Hive Global community badges.
A schematic representation of how local Hive member contributor badges create pathways to Hive Global community badges.

Next Steps

At #SRL14 our team moved on from here to discuss the value of badges to our community, which is detailed in my previous post.  Our next steps here will be to define the criteria of these three community badges, detailing the local contributor badges and resolving the logistical issues of hosting and issuing badges on badgekit.org

Designing a Hive Badge Ecosystem – Contributors

In my previous post on designing a Hive badge ecosystem, I focused on the Community Badge model as a possible structure for badges and pathways. In this post, I will describe the formative work of determining the audience and value of these badges. Given that the attributes of our Community Badges will be drawn from the Connected Learning theory… then who gets them and for what?

In February, a dozen representatives from Hive Networks across North America met at the 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning to discuss a badge ecosystem that would recognize Hive Global member contributions. The goal was to start modestly: identify a single key attribute of connected learning, as well as 3 of the most essential expressions of that attribute – the elements that make Hives… well, Hive-y? These would become our first badges, but who are they for?

Contributors and Target Audience

A Hive, whether it’s a network, a community or a learning event, generally consists of member organizations: museums, educational non-profits, government agencies, for-profits, foundations, community based organizations, schools, etc. Yet, the individual staff members of these organizations are the people who breathe life into the Hive. Their professional commitment and peer-to-peer learning is what ultimately translates into amazing opportunities and experiences for young people. They are the core audience of the Hive.

Even still, if Hive badges are for adult members – serving as experience designers and mentors for young people – should they be used to assess design practice, recognize facilitation of quality connected learning experiences or evaluate mentoring relationships?

If we expect high quality Connected Learning experiences for young people to emerge from the Hive, then Connected Learning has to be the way that we work in the Hive. By using and modeling these attributes in our peer-professional communities, as part of our peer-professional activity, we can expect that those same attributes will naturally emerge in the learning experiences we design.

Therefore Hive badges will initially focus on Connected Learning as expressed through Hive member engagement as opposed to the emergent results of that engagement. However, the experiences that we craft for young people are the ultimate goal of this work, so though we may begin working with the assumption that form follows function, we cannot ultimately ignore the products of our work; we should keep that layer in mind as we proceed.

Members of Hive Chicago take a "dotmocratic" vote on the network-relevance of challenges their peers voiced in their work.
Members of Hive Chicago take a “dotmocratic” vote on the network-relevance of challenges their peers voiced in their work.

Hive Global Mini-Badge Summit

The 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning #SRL14 was the perfect place to talk Hive Global badges – because it was all about badges – but most importantly because we had great Hive representation from NYC, PGH, TOR, CHI and SFO! The roster was filled out by:

  • Kathryn Meisner // Hive TOR
  • Leah Gilliam // Hive NYC
  • Marc Lesser, MOUSE // Hive NYC
  • Robert Friedman // Hive CHI
  • Sam Dyson // Hive CHI
  • Chaya Nayak, Sweet Water Foundation // Hive CHI
  • Emmanuel Pratt, Sweet Water FDN // Hive CHI
  • Rik Panganiban, California Academy of Sciences // Hive SFO
  • Eric Hannan, San Francisco Public Library // Hive SFO
  • Ingrid Dahl, Bay Area Video Coalition // Hive SFO
  • Katie Levedahl, California Academy of Sciences // Hive SFO
  • Jennifer Collins, San Francisco Public Library // Hive SFO

And though they were unable to be seated at our table because they were running the show in Redwood City, most of Hive PGH leadership was around too. This was the team that contributed to the conversation up to this point.

STEP 4: The Value of Community Badges

I started this blog-thread in the last post with a pledge and a precedent, but I should have started with what really matters: why do we need Hive Global badges anyway? What is the value of a badge system for Hive members? This will be at the forefront of our members thoughts when we present this work.

The group had a pretty rich discussion about this, which resulted in the following top-level takeaways: Hive badges will help us to…

  • Define a Hive culture and identity;
  • Facilitate peer recognition;
  • Illuminate new contexts to sharpen our skills;
  • Demonstrate that we are achieving our mission;
  • Facilitate more equitable access, exposure and opportunity;
  • Provide clarity around expectations and requirements;
  • Help members demonstrate the value of Hive externally;
  • Make visible activity deserving recognition;
  • Earn community status for contributions to shaping the Hive;

I could wax poetic about this list, but I think it speaks for itself. Taking a moment to ground ourselves in the value of a badge ecosystem can help us to prioritize what goes into it first.

Designing A Hive Badge Ecosystem – Structure

This is the first in a series of posts describing the process of designing a Hive digital badge ecosystem that began at the 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning.

Just about a month ago at the 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning in Redwood City, Sam Dyson, Director of the Hive Chicago Learning Network representing Hive Global, made a pledge to issue badges that recognize Hive member contributions by summer of 2014.

Around the globe, city-centric Hives bring together organizations with a shared vision for anytime, anywhere learning. Together, they serve young people with educational and career development experiences provided through innovative opportunities that develop 21st century as well as digital media and web literacy skills, which are essential to success in our increasingly connected world.

The Hive Global model is based on three tiers of engagement: Learning Networks, emergent Communities, and groups of local organizations that collaborate to host Learning Events. There are now more than a dozen cities that have taken a step up this engagement ladder, and almost half are now full-fledged networks: NYC, CHI, PGH, TOR, and an emergent SFO.

So then, what should a badge ecosystem for this diverse network of networks look like? How do we recognize activity around a common set of values, while also preserving the unique qualities of local Hives?

Community Badges

To begin with, I took a cue from Chicago STEM Badge Ecosystem #CSTEMBE initiative, a local working group – expanding nationally this summer – supported by the Chicago Hive Fund for Connected Learning. Their goal was to create a set of learning pathways in STEM that bridged the gaps between their many unique organizations: museums, community based organizations, out-of-school time providers, cultural institutions, etc. Each of which had it’s own programs, pipelines, and unique participants.

An inspiration came from Karen Jeffrey of ForAll Systems: if the collaboration could rally behind a single, unifying pedagogical framework that defined essential STEM attributes – core values, skills, and practices – then the badges could easily follow using a Community Badge* model, even if every collaborator hadn’t already designed programs explicitly to that framework in advance.

Community Badges are developed to represent the essential attributes – core values, skills and practices – that represent a community. The criteria for these badges are kept simple, only to provide some definition of what those elements mean and what they might look like in practice. Then, it’s up to the community to interpret and respond to them semi-independently.

Interpretation and response from community members takes the form of Contribution Badges that identify and recognize relevant contributions – participation in activities, creation of artifacts, or peer engagements – that best illustrate the community attributes.  The message being: badge what you already do instead of re-designing your community experience. Community members who then earn the Contribution Badges also work towards earning the Community Badges by design.

Issuing and earning Contribution Badges within or across various community organizations becomes a natural way to build pathways. Community members could choose to issue the Community Badges directly as well, but it is assumed that those badges are earned through the contributions.

Community badges are based on shared community attributes and build pathways through community member contribution opportunities.

Community badges are based on shared community attributes and build pathways through community member contribution opportunities.

Identifying Community Attributes

The Community Badges framework sounds simple in principle, but in practice the main challenge lies in defining those essential community attributes that provide foundation.

For the STEM community, this has been a complex process, awash in national learning frameworks from AAAS 2061, to the 21st Century Learning standards, to NGSS, etc. The #CSTEMBE group was fortunate to catalyze around a popular local, research-driven framework: the Project Exploration Youth Science Matrix.

For Hive Global, this part is actually quite simple: the most significant unifying element of all Hive networks, communities and events is an alignment with Connected Learning – a set of core values, design and learning principles that drives the practice of all Hive educators.

A good starting point for a Hive Badge Ecosystem is therefore a set of Connected-Learning-based Community Badges with supporting Contribution Badges coming from each local instance of Hive Global, be it network, community or event.

In my next post, I will describe the first steps completed in this effort at the 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning: isolating the most essential Connected Learning attributes and articulating the value of this ecosystem to community members.

*Note: the language, definitions and descriptions used for Community Badges are my own and adapted to be *more consistent* with Mozilla Webmaker speak. However, the concepts are inspired by conversations and meetings with Karen Jeffrey and  #CSTEMBE.