After hearing a fabulous presentation on GBL (Game based Learning) and rewards badges from Mr. Hyle Daley at the recent Edmodocon 2011 I began to take a second look at badges. I have heard arguments for and against GBL and Badges. Those against say it doesn't really promote student learning and creates unhealthy competition. Those in favor say having students earn badges to further their learning is no different than companies like Starbucks who offer Starbucks rewards to encourage customers to keep buying fraps and lattes. Until recently I was on the former side of the fence but now I am on the other side- not because I necessarily agree with the way companies help nudge customers to buy their products. No, my philosophy is quite simple- I believe there is nothing wrong with a student feeling good for something he/she has earned. If that is through the medium of a badge or sticker than so be it. Reward systems in schools have been in place for decades. Just because they are 'Rewards 2.0' doesn't make them bad. You can see some of the badges I created for my Edmodo classes here.
Besides think of the powerful culture you could create through badges. I recently created a 'Champion of No-Bullying' badge, awarded to students who promote anti-bullying in their school. We always talk about no-bullying campaigns but imagine if a student starts receiving badges for his/her actions and really begins to internalize their actions and words and feel good about what they are doing through the badges they earn- now that is powerful stuff! Now I understand you can make the case there is a fundamental difference between badges earned for learning and badges earned for good behavior- to which I would respond let's agree to disagree.