Trust in education

Trust in the school context, especially around the use of technology.

Archive for the tag “Australia”

Trusting badges

Earning badges for achievements is nothing new. Organisations like Scouts and Guides have been doing it for years.



Digital badging is newer.


With the rise of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), there has been a rise in the use of digital badges as a recognition of the holder ‘s achievement and a proof that the holder has done what he/she claims to have done, although the use of badges is not confined to MOOCs.

Grant and Shawgo  have annotated a bibliography of sources which offer information and opinions on different aspects of the badge system.

A major issue associated with the badge system is the notion of trust, i.e. whether an employer or person authorised to grant accreditation for prior learning can trust the validity of a badge and the rigour of the learning behind it.

So far there is little evidence of the badge system in use in Australian schools although schools of distance education are diversifying their offerings beyond the traditional provision for remote students.  In time a badge will perhaps replace a certificate upon completion of the course.

Proponents envision a robust, valuable and open system of accreditation.  Leslie (2013) writes, “the value of the system overall increases as more nodes join and a large, robust network emerges over time”.

I have been experimenting with badges in the classroom this year – they’re not digital and they’re linked to behaviour outcomes rather than academic outcomes.  The primary school system in Australia is not quite ready for that yet!


Our classroom system works this way:

  1. Students earn a card for displaying a particular behaviour that I want to encourage (e.g. good listening, following instructions, being kind to someone)
  2. When a student has five cards the same, they “cash them in” to earn a badge which they display on their desk.  They also earn a sticker for their chart which is the school wide reward system.
  3. Another five cards earns a badge of a different colour, which is higher in value.  Bronze is followed by silver, then gold, platinum, pearl, emerald…

Trust is involved when:

  • I tell a student that he/she has earned a card and they collect it from the box on my desk at a convenient time.  I am probably not near the box when they collect the cards.IMG_0084
  • A student cashes in their cards and writes on a post-it note which badge they have earned.  Again, I am probably not near the box so I don’t see how many cards they have deposited or what type they are.

The system is ripe for abuse but very little is happening.  I have assumed that I can trust the children in my care and I believe they have acted in a trustworthy way because the non-tangible rewards for being trusted are better that the tangible rewards for betraying trust.


Photo credits:

“US Navy 081004-N-5345W-021 Cub Scouts prepare to parade the colors” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 081004-N-5345W-021 Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“Openbadges” by Anyashy – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


What does your clothing say about trust?

In Australia we are in the middles of an election campaign and a controversial former Prime Minister this week caused a bit more controversy through his choice of necktie.

A blue tie suggests the wearer is trustworthy.

A blue tie suggests the wearer is trustworthy.

Kevin Rudd wore a blue tie while he was out campaigning with another candidate.  A lot  has been said in the media about what the choice of colour meant.  The day before, our female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had warned that after the coming election, the country could be run by men wearing blue ties.  Note that blue is the official colour of the Liberal Party who are currently in opposition but likely to win the election.  Some viewed Kevin’s blue tie as a threat to Julia (even though they belong to the same political party).  Kevin claimed that he wore it only because his wife had packed it in his suitcase for him.

A bit has also been written this week about what our choice of clothes says about us.  The agreed upon view is that blue signifies dependability, trustworthiness and loyalty.

Red suggests aggression and emotion, black authority, pink compassion.

All this talk was about politicians but the same applies to people in any job, including teachers and school leaders.  Maybe this is why police officers’ uniforms are blue in many cities.

Trust develops over long periods of time and through repeated interactions.  Once we have established a trust relationship with someone, it shouldn’t be affected by our choice of clothing.

But our first impression of someone or their first impresssion of us could be affected by the colour of our clothing, not only by our words and actions.

When the next school year starts, I think I’ll wear something blue on the first day and whenever I’m in the position of trying to convince a group of teachers or parents that technological change is a good thing, I’ll definitely wear blue!

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