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Badges for Personalization

Posted on February 25, 2023 by Bill Carozza

Richer Picture Founder and President David Niguidula says, “Digital portfolios are a nudge in the direction of personalization.” Why should schools work toward providing personalized experiences for students?

A 7th-grade student quoted in the book Learning Personalized, the Evolution of the Contemporary Classroom states, “I’m constantly going through the motions down a path that has been chosen for me by others. When is it gonna be my turn?” Typically, schools have focused on what adults want to teach, believing that students should have limited choice in their daily learning activities.

Yet, if educators follow the pedagogy of personalization, students can meet the same educational outcomes we support while engaged in authentic and meaningful learning pursuits.

To some, personalization is instruction solely by a computer, as in B.F. Skinner’s teaching machines essentially replacing human instruction. Or, one could cite John Dewey’s progressive education perspective, where personalization means project-based learning utilizing “change the world” assessments where students solve real-world problems in the context of learning.

The advantage of digital portfolios is their inherent flexibility to meet the personalization needs of every student:

  • Students can earn digital badges in various instructional areas, including those selected by the student.
  • Reflection and choice are inherent qualities of digital portfolios. Students can include artifacts of their own choosing to demonstrate evidence of proficiency. At the same time, students reflect on why they chose that artifact.
  • Teachers have a full view of the student’s digital portfolios and can quickly provide feedback and direction.

As David describes in an upcoming podcast, digital portfolios particularly support the educational personalization of those students “in the middle.” These kids may not acquire the accolades that popular athletes or the highest-achieving students receive, and they also don’t qualify for the attention our struggling learners rightly demand.

But, the “middle children” may need to be heard and supported in their passions – digital portfolios can be the personalization answer for them.

As Zmuda, Curtis, and Ullman say in their book Learning Personalized “personalized learning is a better way to grow children. We don’t teach subjects – we teach children and young adults. Personalized learning is the best way we know to grow these people into the best versions of themselves with all the skills and mindsets needed to succeed and contribute to our shared future.”

Thus, why must we “nudge” our instructional practice toward the pedagogy of personalization?

We have powerful tech tools at our disposal, and thanks to remote learning, a faculty and student body unintentionally experienced using technology to promote understanding. It’s time to use that leverage to empower all of our students to gain the knowledge and skills to change their world for the better.

What Are Badges For?

Posted on January 10, 2023 by Bill Carozza

A student’s school career moves quickly through their youthful years. As David Niguidula says in his book Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges and Portfolios “…each day is supposed to add up to something bigger–days become quarters, which become years, which become school careers.” Digital badges connect the short and long-term of a student’s school […]

The Rise of CTE Programs

Posted on November 30, 2022 by Bill Carozza

Real-world scenarios are the heart of a Career Technical Education (CTE) school. Programs abound in areas as diverse as agriculture, culinary arts, health, business management, TV broadcasting, and hospitality. Well-known corporations often partner with CTE programs, such as Toyota, Verizon, Chevron, and John Deere. Given the tight labor market, small, local companies are also often […]

Welcome Back!

Posted on September 30, 2022 by Bill Carozza

Welcome back to the Richer Picture blog! From the beginning, our work is to let students show what they know and to provide the Richer Picture of what each student knows and are able to do. We have learned much from our schools – both in terms of ideas and of implementation. In earlier blog […]

Curriculum and Assessment Resources

Posted on July 20, 2020 by David Niguidula

As schools get ready for a new school year, we face a great deal of uncertainty. Even in communities where schools say they will be back in business full-time, it’s clear that some percentage of families will want to stay with the social distancing for at least a while longer. Given that, there are ideas […]

No Final Exams? Use Portfolios To Capture the Year of Learning

Posted on March 20, 2020 by David Niguidula

It’s becoming increasingly likely that some schools may not re-open before the end of the school year. So what can schools do instead of having a traditional final exam? Digital Portfolios can achieve the same goal as your exam: to demonstrate what your students have learned in your course. The portfolio can honor and reward […]

Personal Entries: How To Capture Home Learning Moments

Posted on March 19, 2020 by David Niguidula

With students spending lots (and lots!) of time at home, they are probably looking for things to do. Families are getting creative; kids are learning to cook or helping more with younger siblings or finally picking up the musical instrument. So even if they are not in the classroom, students certainly are learning new things – […]

Personalizing Assessment with Digital Badges

Posted on February 26, 2020 by David Niguidula

“Personalization” is one of those things that educators all agree is important, but have found it hard to do in practice. The structure of schools is designed to work with students in large groups, and to essentially treat all students the same. There are a few strategies that can help with personalizing assessments. Some have […]

Creating Effective Tours

Posted on January 23, 2020 by David Niguidula

One of the most powerful uses of digital badges occurs when students present their work. To earn a badge, students can submit a “tour” of their best work to show that they are meeting the requirements. For example, to earn a badge in Spanish, a student could prepare a tour showing their skills as a Listener, Speaker, […]

Demonstrating the Whole Child with Digital Badges

Posted on December 18, 2019 by David Niguidula

Digital Badges can help students show all the ways in which they are learning and growing. Schools can set up badges that represent a student’s academic knowledge, work habits, social skills, and personal interests. All of these areas of growth can be present in any entry of student work. Consider a group of students working […]

The Latest ASCD Book from David Niguidula
Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges & Portfolio

Step by step, this book lays out how your school can become more personalized and achieve higher degrees of mastery simultaneously

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