Digital badges are emerging as an exciting tool to assess student proficiency and integrate student interests with attainment of standards. Digital badges help increase student engagement, record achievements and measure students' skills and readiness. But how does a school community come to agreement about what it means to earn each badge, and how do badges connect to school and state requirements?
A digital badge is a credential that students earn credit toward graduation requirements through their accomplishments. Most of us are familiar with badges in the context of scouting, and that's a useful basis of comparison, because those badge represents proficiency in a specific skill, not just time spent learning.
In the context of schools, digital badges allow students to show their progress and for schools to implement competency-based teaching and learning. Digital badges can represent work completed within or outside traditional classes--for example, a student can earn a digital badge that demonstrates her mastery of biology standards through a science investigation completed in an afterschool community service experience. The same goes for music, dance, video production, or many other achievements that might easily count for academic credit. Well-defined digital badges allow students to measure their accomplishments via standards, and the flexibility that this provides can make those standards matter much more.
The key to successful digital badge implementation is agreement among school staff members about the specific requirements of a digital badge, and that badges need to be approved by a teacher as acknowledgement that they demonstrate learning aligned with academic goals. The upside of digital badges is that they are very flexible, but definitions need to be clearly understood by students and teachers.
In addition to deepening personalized learning for students, digital badges fit elegantly into Richer Picture and other existing digital portfolio systems. For more on Digital Badges, we invite you to view our recent webinar on Digital Badges and Portfolios [LINK], a half-hour overview presented by Richer Picture founder David Niguidula.
Increasingly, many states are encouraging the integration of computer science across all the grade levels with guidance from the Computer Science Teachers Association’s recently revised K-12 computer science standards. These standards introduce the fundamental concepts of computer science to all students, present secondary-level computer science as part of STEM credits, and increase the availability of challenging computer science for all students, especially those who are members of groups underrepresented in technology-driven fields of study and work.
These revised standards come at a time when many school districts are in the process of computer science implementation. As your school moves toward computer science implementation, RicherPicture can help. Within RicherPicture, teachers can link assignments to the CSTA standards and create digital badges that define what students need to be able to do to demonstrate any of these expectations. Visit our blog [LINK] for more on the increased urgency of adopting computer science standards and best practices for implementation.
For more on Digital Badges, School Administrator magazine’s January 2017) cover story on Digital Badging by Sheryl L Grant offers a narrative of the ways California’s Corona-Norco school district is implementing digital badging. Grant also provides digital badging’s backstory--helpful for those seeking to understand how this form of academic credit has emerged.
The Alliance for Excellent Education’s 2013 report, Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities through Digital Badging , provides a more in-depth exploration of the practicalities and possibilities of digital badges. This report defines badges; examines their functionality in K-12 systems, higher education, and the workforce; provides examples of digital badge implementation; and considers the future for digital badges.