UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired

Posted by Brian Kelly on 31 Aug 2013

An Opportunity For Professional Development

It’s now been a month since I was made redundant from UKOLN. Since then I have had two weeks holiday in Northumberland and had a few days at Whitby Folk Festival. In addition I have been exploring new opportunities which has included submitting an application for the post of Community Engagement Manager at the Open Data Institute. After having recharged my batteries I am now looking to enhance my skills and expertise and further develop my professional connections.

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC has therefore arrived at a timely moment for me. As described by Michal Stephens one of the two facilitators of the MOOC the MOOC is based on a course he has taught at San Jose State University which has been adapted to a larger scale. Michael goes on to explain how the concept of “The Hyperlinked Organization” which was described by David Weinberge in The Cluetrain Manifesto could be applied in a library context:

The Hyperlinked Library is an open, participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. It is built on human connections and conversations. The organizational chart is flatter and team-based. The collections grow and thrive via user involvement. Librarians are tapped in to user spaces and places online to interact, have presence, and point the way. The hyperlinked library is human. Communication, externally and internally, is in a human voice. The librarians speak to users via open, transparent conversation.

The MOOC is based on a number of weekly modules which include The Hyperlinked Library Model & Participatory Service; Hyperlinked Library Communities; Engaging Hyperlinked Communities; Planning for Hyperlinked Libraries; Transparency & Privacy; User Experience; Mobile & Geo-social Environments; Creation Culture and Learning & New Literacies; Reflective Practice.

As the MOOC begins on Monday I am not yet in a position to comment on the content on the MOOC. However As I have registered on the MOOC I am in a position to give my initial thoughts on the MOOC environment,

MOOC badgesAfter joined the MOOC I subscribed to a number of discussion fora or, to use the terminology of the MOOC, joined number of tribes. I looked at details of others who have subscribed to the MOOC and sent friendship requests to people I knew and accepted a number of requests which I have received. I then updated my details and uploaded a portrait and created a blog for use on the course.

For each of these actions I was awarded a badge: a Join a Tribe badge; a Send a Friendship Request badge; an Accept a Friendship Request badge and an Update your MOOC avatar badge. I also received an Update your MOOC avatar badge for collecting five badges!

As illustrated, I now have eight badges. It seems that there are still many other badges which I can acquire, including checkpoint badge, master badges, blogging badges, peer review badges, personal learning network badges and À  la carte badges.

Thoughts on Badges

I have to admit that I found this rather cheesy; I felt the system was patronizing me. I found my initial reaction somewhat strange. After all, I had invited Doug Belshaw, Badges & Skills Lead for the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, to give a plenary talk at the IWMW 2013 event on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy“. The Storify summary of the open session at the IWMW 2013 event described how:

Doug Belshaw gave an introduction to the Open Badges infrastructure and how these could be used to communicate a wide range of skills that are not currently communicated by traditional degree certificates.  He explained the different levels to which institutions can integrate Open Badges into their accreditation, and outline how web managers can get involved both with Open Badges and a new web literacy standard.

As I subsequently reported “gauging from the comments on Twitter, an audience which is intrigued by open badges and their potential relevance for both personal use and to support departmental activities“. Indeed I recall suggesting at the event that I should consider whether open badges should be provided for speakers and participants at IWMW events. But having been a fan a few months ago, why was I skeptical when I received my first badges on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC last week?

My skepticism was compounded after I deleted the default blog post which had been created when I set up the blog and received a Post Trasher badge! I felt patronized: “Congratulations, you now know hoe to delete a blog post. Have a badge“. It seems as though the MOOC is awarding badges after every distinct action: registering; updating one’s avatar, joining a group, creating a blog; publishing a post;, etc. There is no notion of quality associated with such badges. But perhaps that is to come, as badges are awarded based on assessment and peer review.

Post on unlocking badgesIs there, then, a point to badges for completion of simple tasks? In a recent post Michael Stephens suggested that “Happiness is unlocking a badge!” and one fellow student responded: “I’ve always been an intrinsically motivated kinda person, but this having little nuggets to ’win’ is stepping it up a notch!”.

So perhaps my cynicism is inappropriate. Alternatively, there may be cultural differences based on nationality, area of work, gender, etc.

The question of differing perspectives and approaches for a global MOOC audience occurred to me after befriending other participants on the MOOC. I responded to friendship requests from the MOOC organisers (one of whom, Michael Stephens, I know) and then befriended a small number of people whom I am in contact with on Twitter. However I have not befriended any ‘strangers’ although I number of people I do not know have befriended me (and I have accepted such requests). Will we see differences in participants willingness to initiate and respond to friendship requests, I wonder. It should be noted that at the time of writing the Google Map of participants’ locations shows only three British and one Irish participants. As can be seen from the map below which shows the location of participants from the northern hemisphere (note bone participant from China is omitted) the MOOC has attracted participants from North America and Europe. Other participants are from Australia and New Zealand, with one participants from South America.

It will be interesting to see if the global audience (although predominantly from the western world)  engages with the online MOOC environment in ways which reflect cultural differences. The map itself may reveal some clues, as participants have been invited to add their own information. Will participants from North America be more willing to provide geo-location information, I wonder? I’d welcome your thoughts.

Map of hyperlinked library MOOC participants




9 Responses to “Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired”

  1. Ian Hunter said

    Just to say I was at Whitby Folk Week too!

    Kind regards,

    Ian Hunter
    BIALL PR & Promotions Committee
    [Description: cid:038121414@10082012-01B0]

    Library and Information Manager
    Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP
    Broadgate West
    9 Appold Street
    EC2A 2AP
    D: +44 207 655 5798 | M: +44 784 132 4694 | F: +44 207 655 5226 |

  2. Badges: When I was in the Cubs (reaching the dizzy heights of Sixer of Brown Six, I’m happy for everyone to know) I was quite chuffed to earn badges like this. I can still remember one of the first I gained, which was “book reader” – tested by the fearsome District Commissioner. They were all much harder to get than any I’ve been ‘awarded’ by any sort of Web forum, and were presented in front of the whole Cub Pack at a parade to which my Mum and Dad were invited. By the time I had become an Assistant District Commissioner in the Scouts myself (now also long in the past), I guess I had got a bit more cynical about it – but I still presented quite a lot of badges to quite a lot of Cubs, Scouts and Venture Scouts who had worked hard for them, and congratulated them genuinely. I can manage the rest of my life entirely without any ‘badges’ that I get from websites – especially the ones focused on online democratic participation or IT ‘skills’. Your cynicism about them is entirely appropriate!

  3. CogDog said

    I echo the cynicism of micro badging for every possible task; I would go beyond and find it revolting and demeaning. But as noted, there is a pitfall of expanding one’s own perspective to the many.

    If we roll back to the intended purpose of badges, is there seriously a need to publicly demonstrate my skills in friending, updating an avatar, deleting content? It seems like system designers are madly badging things that are easy to badge, not things that are worthy of badging. A more comprehensive system might aggregate a series of actions, like all you have done to get this account set up, and perhaps badge something in a large skill, like establishing and online community presence.

    At this rate you will emerge with perhaps 900 badges from this MOOC. I wonder what that adds up to.

  4. Margaret said

    I am the classmate who commented on basically being intrinsically motivated and ‘surprised’ (to say the least) at the little thrill of pleasure acquiring a badge gave me. I am not without my skepticism, but am currently enjoying it. I know there is great controversy about badges, and I agree with CogDog and others that to really be worthy, badges should indicate that some significant learning has taken place. I am thinking that in this MOOC instance, the micro-badges (or Checkpoint Badges) for the little tasks are set to feed into the actual learning badge (Master Badge). In this initial instance, the Master Badge is entitled The Networked Personality, which implies that all the Checkpoints along the way (adding friends, updating avatar and profile, etc.) introduce one to the various ways one can communicate and express oneself in the networked world. While some of this may seem trivial, it’s a new experience for others. I guess all I can say is that I’m open to where the badges lead and how it feels over time, having never been a Cub Scout, I don’t have that same experience.

    • CogDog said

      Thank you very much Margaret for that clarification and emphasis if your perspective. I appreciate the value of small motivations; teachers provide that all the time.

      I do wonder if smaller micro skills cumulatively add up to broader ones. When I think of someone skilled at being a networked individual I don’t see that as knowing how to follow people, click buttons, but more of having proven their ability to navigate unknown spaces, share and encourage others, to critically analyze information.

      If I am looking at that badge, do I just accept it as proof of those skills?

      Maybe this metaphor will fall flat… like my own baking. But in cooking I am successful at following instructions and acquiring all the ingredients, preheating the oven. All badgeable. But if I add all those together does it demonstrate I can make a good cake?

      We need as well ways to demonstrate our skills, in something more tangible than badges.

      I do not discount their potential but I see them more as part of an ecosystem of skills and knowledge demonstration.

  5. […] An Opportunity For Professional Development It's now been a month since I was made redundant from UKOLN. Since then I have had two weeks holiday in Northumberland and had a few days at Whitby Folk …  […]

  6. […] I described when I began the MOOC the Hyperlinked Library MOOC arrived at a timely moment for me; following the cessation of Jisc […]

  7. […] after starting the MOOC I summarised my Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired. Earlier this month I described my Reflections on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC. I was pleased to […]

  8. […] in participating in the MOOC useful and felt they were worth sharing and so I published post on my Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired and on my final Reflections On The Hyperlinked Library MOOC. In brief I felt that the Hyperlinked […]

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