Your Work Speaks for Itself

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

You might wait for someone/something to condone your credentials. To me, it is of even more importance that you always be doing that effort yourself to make sure there is evident of what you are capable of. Why wait passively for some sticker?

Yes, I am side stepping the badges wumpus. With my travel, I’ve honestly not had enough time to try and parse out the bits, so I am holding off judgement. But my gut says there is a whole lot of excitement over something that is still conceptual. Not that there is anything wrong, but look how Tim Berners Lee went about his miracle creation of the web- he built the thing and made it visible before trumpeting it. If he ever did trumpeting.

I digress. Again.

Even if badges turn out to be meaningful, viable, and in my optimist view, I’d prefer that they do and not flop– what the heck are you going to do with them? To me, putting all your future chips in badge means you are waiting on some other entity to confer some status upon you.

But where will people go to see your badge collection?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by iirraa

This all circles back to what you can (and ought to) be doing now- crafting your own corner of the internetz that documents what you can do- that is the being public with your work (not just tweeting your own horn), but having a space where people can really get a sense of what your potential is, how you think, how you write.

It’s not conceptual; in fact, its at least 10 years old.

Get a domain of your own. Hoist a blog/web site. Keep reflecting, all the time- Always Be Reflecting. Do that narration of your work.

Badges may turn out to be important decor for your personal web space house, but its on you to build and maintain the house.

And really, for all the powerful messages Jim groom has done over the past few years, is it really only at the University of Mary washington is there a place in higher ed that encourages this “domain of their own” for students? Everywhere else, wrapped in control or FE(a)RPA, we take away this critical opportunity for students to be prepped for the world outside the walls.

UMW Blogs is focused on giving students control over their own learning process, reflections, and take back ownership of their data. What could be more FERPA compliant? I think it is time to reclaim the FUD around FERPA and reinterpret it as it was intended: an act that encourages universities to give students more control over their own data, and by extension their own teaching and learning. Fact is, FERPA is in many ways a parallel to Gardner Campbell”˜s idea of “student as sysadmin of their own education” “”that is what we should be actively pursuing as a community dedicated to teaching and learning in the open rather than heading down a road of prohibition further alienating higher education from its mission.

At UMW we are FERPA compliant because we are actively making students sysadmins of their education. What’s more, we are encouraging them to interrogate the questions around privacy, digital identity, and the data landscape that will frame their future rather than precluding this conversation all together””what could be more anathema to higher education?

Why the _______ is this not spreading among other institutions? I’d say they are doing more harm than good by running in a maternalistic mode.

While badges may eventually provide a piece of the process for students to have evidence of their abilities, I for one do not see much use in a house of badges. You gotta do the building yourself.

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by bunnicula


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by tomswift46 (No Groups with Comments)

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Great post, Alan, and I would call it more than a rant. I think there needs to be some serious questioning of the “badge” movement, and you’ve nailed some of my discomfort with that idea. “Your work speaks for itself” goes with “seeking instead of searching” in my catalog of cogdog quotes to keep.

    And I do want to point out that UMW is not the only place where this kind of student engagement and student ownership of their own work and its value happens. We’ve got a very similar philosophy at Macaulay, although we haven’t gone as far with individual domains. Our students’ eportfolios are their own–the content, the structure, the growth…none of that is predetermined or assigned. And the same goes for the decisions about private/public. Those decisions belong to the students, who decide for themselves. We don’t “protect” them from making decisions, we ask them to make conscious and informed decisions. And to keep examining and remaking those decisions, too.

    It’s great that it’s happening at UMW, and it’s been going on there longer than most other places (thanks to Jim), and we have to give respect for that, but we shouldn’t get too caught up in UMW-exceptionalism. Lots of us in higher ed are walking these paths these days, and there are more and more all the time.

    1. Thanks Joseph for the kind words. And yes, of course Macauley belongs on the list of pro-active institutions. Yours was one of those early pioneers with using wordpress in the eportfolio space. I am eager to hear more exceptions.

  2. I’d quote “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” but I’m sure it’s been done. The badges thing leaves me cold, so far, for just the reasons you articulate.

    By the way, the unsung hero in the UMWBlogs story is Chip German. And it’s no coincidence that Chip’s a champion builder himself.

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