THERE’S A MEME on Instagram, circulated by a group called “Born Liberal.” “Born Liberal” was a creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian propaganda wing
Conversations around the IRA’s operations traditionally have focused on Facebook and Twitter, but like any hip millennial, the IRA was actually most obsessive about Instagram.
the IRA deployed 3,841 accounts, including several personas that “regularly played hashtag games.” That approach paid off; 1.4 million people engaged with the tweets, leading to nearly 73 million engagements. Most of this work was focused on news, while on Facebook and Instagram, the Russians prioritized “deeper relationships,” according to the researchers. On Facebook, the IRA notched a total of 3.3 million page followers, who engaged with their politically divisive content 76.5 million times. Russia’s most popular pages targeted the right wing and the black community. The trolls also knew their audiences; they deployed Pepe memes at pages intended for right-leaning millennials, but kept them away from posts directed at older conservative Facebook users. Not every attempt was a hit; while 33 of the 81 IRA Facebook pages had over 1,000 followers, dozens had none at all.
The report also points out new links between the IRA’s pages and Wikileaks, which helped disseminate hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta
“While many people think of memes as “cat pictures with words,” the Defense Department and DARPA have studied them for years as a powerful tool of cultural influence, capable of reinforcing or even changing values and behavior.
“over the past five years, disinformation has evolved from a nuisance into high-stakes information war.” And yet, rather than fighting back effectively, Americans are battling each other over what to do about it.
A year after the Meme Warfare Center proposal was published, DARPA, the Pentagon agency that develops new military technology, commissioned a four-year study of memetics. The research was led by Dr. Robert Finkelstein, founder of the Robotic Technology Institute, and an academic with a background in physics and cybernetics.
Finkelstein’s study of “Military Memetics” centered on a basic problem in the field, determining “whether memetics can be established as a science with the ability to explain and predict phenomena.” It still had to be proved, in other words, that memes were actual components of reality and not just a nifty concept with great marketing.
While employers increasingly demand that new hires have college degrees, the transcripts supporting those hard-earned credentials are no longer the most informative tool students have to exhibit their skills.
An estimated 1 in 5 institutions issue digital badges, which can be posted to social media, stored on digital portfolios and displayed by other specially designed platforms. When clicked on, the badge lists a range of skills a student has demonstrated beyond grades.
“The reason they’re taking off in higher education is most employers are not getting the information they need about people emerging from higher ed, with previous tools we’ve been using,” says Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of the widely used badging platform Credly. “The degree itself doesn’t get to level of describing particular competencies.”
For instance, a Notre Dame student who goes on a trip to Ecuador to build bridges can earn a badge for mastering the calculations involved in the construction, says G. Alex Ambrose, associate program director of e-portfolio assessment at the Indiana university’s Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning.
Students can be pretty certain when they have passed calculus or creative writing, but they don’t always recognize when they’ve excelled in demonstrating soft skills such as critical thinking, communication and work ethic, says MJ Bishop, director of the system’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation.
Badges have been most popular in the school of education—including with student teachers who, in turn, have created badges for the elementary and secondary classrooms where they’ve apprenticed, says Anna Catterson, the university’s educational technology director.
The campus library is another badging hotspot. Students there have earned microcredentials for research, 3D printing and other skills. These badges are being shared on LinkedIn and other platforms to obtain internships and scholarships.
The university runs faculty training sessions on badging and has established a review process for when faculty submit ideas for microcredentials.
One pothole to avoid is trying to create a schoolwide badge that’s standardized across a wide range of courses or majors. This can force the involvement of committees that can bog down the process, so it’s better to start with skills within single courses, says Ambrose at Notre Dame.
When creating a badge, system faculty have to identify a business or industry interested in that credential.
Badges that have the backing of a college or university are more impressive to job recruiters than are completion certificates from skill-building websites like Lynda.com.
Students won’t be motivated to earn a badge that’s a stock blue ribbon downloaded off the internet. Many institutions put a lot work into the design, and this can include harnessing expertise from the marketing department and graphic designers
Guess what … I searched for Brenda Perea (in hopes of maybe getting some information on how they set up their system) … One of her current positions is with Credly … Do we still want to reach out to her?
Digital badges are receiving a growing amount of attention and are beginning to disrupt the norms of what it means to earn credit or be credentialed. Badges allow the sharing of evidence of skills and knowledge acquired through a wide range of life activity, at a granular level, and at a pace that keeps up with individuals who are always learning—even outside the classroom. As such, those not traditionally in the degree-granting realm—such as associations, online communities, and even employers—are now issuing “credit” for achievement they can uniquely recognize. At the same time, higher education institutions are rethinking the type and size of activities worthy of official recognition. From massive open online courses (MOOCs), service learning, faculty development, and campus events to new ways of structuring academic programs and courses or acknowledging granular or discrete skills and competencies these programs explore, there’s much for colleges and universities to consider in the wide open frontier called badging.
During this ELI course, participants will:
Explore core concepts that define digital badges, as well as the benefits and use in learning-related contexts
Understand the underlying technical aspects of digital badges and how they relate to each other and the broader landscape for each learner and issuing organization
Critically review and analyze examples of the adoption of digital credentials both inside and outside higher education
Identify and isolate specific programs, courses, or other campus or online activities that would be meaningfully supported and acknowledged with digital badges or credentials
Consider the benefit of each minted badge or system to the earner, issuer, and observer
Develop a badge constellation or taxonomy for their own project
Consider forms of assessment suitable for evaluating badge earning
Learn about design considerations around the visual aspects of badges
Create a badge-issuing plan
NOTE: Participants will be asked to complete assignments in between the course segments that support the learning objectives stated above and will receive feedback and constructive critique from course facilitators on how to improve and shape their work.
Jonathan Finkelstein is founder and CEO of Credly, creator of the Open Credit framework, and founder of the open source BadgeOS project. Together these platforms have enabled thousands of organizations to recognize, reward, and market skills and achievement. Previously, he was founder of LearningTimes and co-founder of HorizonLive (acquired by Blackboard), helping mission-driven organizations serve millions of learners through online programs and platforms. Finkelstein is author of Learning in Real Time (Wiley), contributing author to The Digital Museum, co-author of a report for the U.S. Department of Education on the potential for digital badges, and a frequent speaker on digital credentials, open badges, and the future of learning and workforce development. Recent speaking engagements have included programs at The White House, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Smithsonian, EDUCAUSE, IMS Global, Lumina Foundation, ASAE, and the Federal Reserve. Finkelstein is involved in several open standards initiatives, such as the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Badge Alliance, American Council on Education (ACE) Stackable Credentials Framework Advisory Group, and the Credential Registry. He graduated with honors from Harvard.
In addition to helping Credly clients design credential systems in formal and informal settings, Susan Manning comes from the teaching world. Presently she teaches for the University of Wisconsin at Stout, including courses in instructional design, universal design for learning, and the use of games for learning. Manning was recognized by the Sloan Consortium with the prestigious 2013 Excellence in Online Teaching Award. She has worked with a range of academic institutions to develop competency-based programs that integrate digital badges. Several of her publications specifically speak to digital badge systems; other work is centered on technology tools and online education.
EDUC-441 Mobile Learning InstructionalDesign
Repeatable for Credit: No
Mobile learning research, trends, instructionaldesign strategies for curriculum integration and professional development.
EDUC-452 Universal Design for Learning
Repeatable for Credit: No Instructionaldesign strategies that support a wide range of learner differences; create barrier-free learning by applying universal design concepts.
That’s when the MacArthur Foundation highlighted the winning projects of its Badges for Lifelong Learning competition at the Digital Media and Learning Conference in Chicago. The competition, co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation, had attracted nearly 100 competitors a year earlier. The winners shared $2 million worth of development grants.
Evidence of Lifelong Learning
A digital badge or credential is a validation, via technology, that a person has earned an accomplishment, learned a skill or gained command of specific content. Typically, it is an interactive image posted on a web page and connected to a certain body of information that communicates the badge earner’s competency.
Credly is a company that offers off-the-shelf credentialing and badging for organizations, companies and educational institutions. One of its projects, BadgeStack, which has since been renamed BadgeOS, was a winner in the 2013 MacArthur competition. Virtually any individual or organization can use its platform to determine criteria for digital credentials and then award them, often taking advantage of an open-source tool like WordPress. The credential recipient can then use the BadgeOS platform to manage the use of the credential, choosing to display badges on social media profiles or uploading achievements to a digital resume, for instance.
Finkelstein and others see, with the persistently growing interest in competency-based education (CBE), that badging is a way to assess and document competency.
There are obstacles, though, to universal acceptance of digital credentialing. For one, not every community, company or organization sees a badge as something of value.
When a player earns points for his or her success in a game, those points have no value outside of the environment in which the game is played. For points, badges, credentials — however you want to define them — to be perceived as evidence of competency, they have to have portability and be viewed with value outside of their own environment.