Earlier this week I spent two days at the Digital Media and Learning Badge Workshop in New York City. It was a tremendously stimulating and useful session.
First of all, it was remarkable to hear how much is going on right now around badges as a form of alternative assessment and learning. Carnegie convened a meeting late last year and Gates/MacArthur held one last week (in which top game designers taught top assessment researchers what they knew). The MacArthur learning networks, at the national and local level, is interested in exploring badges, as is a number of government agencies. Things, clearly, are happening.
At the same time, I ended up facilitating a session to map the history of badges and learning, in large part because I know so little about this and wanted to learn more. It became clear that while badge systems have been in use for some time (by the scouts, military, judo practitioners, etc.), research on their educational effects and current examples are hard to find.