In December 2020, WordPress launched its new “Learn” platform with free courses, workshops, and lesson plans. Since then, the Training Team has continued adding more material. The latest proposal is an open discussion for the community on adding participatory badges for completing coursework.

“I’d like to nail down what kind of thing we would like to see regarding recognising learner achievements on profiles,” wrote WordPress community manager Hugh Lashbrooke in the announcement earlier this month.

The proposal, which now has a GitHub ticket, includes showing the following on a user’s profile page:

  • A course’s completion in the activity stream.
  • The user’s average grade from Learn WordPress.
  • A new “Learning” tab for displaying completed courses with dates and the possibility of individual completed lessons, relevant grades, and other learning data.
  • A new “Learner” badge for anyone who has completed one course.

Currently, there are only two courses available. “That is changing as we develop new content,” wrote Lashbrooke in the post. “So my hope is that we will have these rewards in place now, and as content is created, the rewards will flow naturally.”

One downside to the proposal may be publicly showing a user’s grades. “I’d be against showing the learner’s average grade publicly because it could lead to anxiety, stress, etc., and maybe even stop some people from participating in the courses,” wrote Stephen Cronin in the comments. “Eg: ‘What if I only get a C, will anyone take me seriously? Will it harm my chances of getting a job in the WP space?’ etc. Some people will thrive on that sort of competition, some people … not so much. And I feel like we should be as inclusive as possible.”

Lashbrooke responded that showing grades could be an opt-in feature. However, I would question why it would be necessary to show grades at all. Bragging rights? Maybe. If we could somehow make it shareable via social media, it might be a fun way to get more people to participate.

Several people in the comments were encouraged by the idea of social sharing. Adam Warner even proposed adding the Learn badges to the oEmbed WordPress block, making it easy for users to share their accomplishments on their sites.

However, the first step should be to provide badges for completing a course. It is an easy win and could be automated.

Most user profile badges are for direct contributions to the project, such as writing code or working on a team. However, at least some user-based participatory badges are available already. For example, there is a “Test Contributor” badge for providing feedback on calls for testing.

One side advantage of a Learn achievement system could be for employers who are looking through an applicant’s history. It may help potential employees show off their competency in specific areas of the WordPress platform.

Courtney Engle Robertson, Web Design and Developer Advocate at GoDaddy, questioned Matt Mullenweg during 2020’s State of the Word Q&A session on the role of the Learn platform as it pertains to the job market.

Mullenweg said the first step is organizing the platform and making high-quality educational material available. However, he seemed open to the idea of having a self or administered certification down the line. It would allow people to show that they have completed or tested out of a course.

“It wouldn’t be a perfect system, but it could be a nice way for people to learn more about WordPress,” he said. “And, hopefully, as they go through, since WordPress is open-source, improve the materials as we go through it, both from the point of view of making it more intuitive or easier to understand and also translating, as well. Because there is a huge demand for WordPress really all over the world now.”

View the clip below from the State of the Word Q&A:

“As someone who hires WordPress professionals, I would love to have a request in the job application to link up their WP profile so we can see competency through that learning platform,” commented Chris Badgett, the founder and CEO of LifterLMS, on the proposal.

He also agreed with Mullenweg that people should be able to test out of a course. It would not make sense for those who have already acquired specific skills or knowledge to go through the motions of completing coursework they are already proficient in.

“Creating quizzes or ‘post tests’ in the LMS with a standard minimum passing requirement to earn the achievement badge would help fulfill this,” he said.

For now, some simple gamification via profile badges could boost participation and, perhaps, get more people involved in contributing to the Learn platform. This could also be the first step toward a WordPress certification system.

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