The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access recently hosted “Rewarding Museum Participation and Learning: New Approaches,” a symposium that explored the use of digital badges and certifications in educational programs across the institution and its affiliates. Speakers at the symposium shared best practices in the design and use of digital badging programs and valuable insights into the evolution of this growing trend.
Speakers included Maxwell L. Anderson, the Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art; Jonathan Finkelstein, founder of Learning Times and Credly, and director of the BadgeOS Project; Stevie Engelke, director of programs for the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access; Amy Homma, manager of digital learning programs for ARTLAB+ at the Hirshhorn Museum; and Caroline Payson, director of education for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. They offered overviews of the programs they are operating at their respective institutions, and the following wisdom:
- A digital badge offers key advantages over its embroidered counterpart of yesteryear—no limitations on the number a person can acquire, easy to access, shareable and mobile, and provides insightful data about the learner.
- New standards for digital badges are helping to verify learning, ensure consistency, promote portability, and build value across institutions and organizations.
- Badges can reinforce desired behaviors, celebrate achievements, and provide meaningful rewards, such as advancement to a new position or level.
- There are a variety of badge types with varying benefits and purposes on the Gold Star to Gold Seal spectrum to consider when creating a badging program.
- Assess learners’ values before designing and developing a badge program. Don’t assume they just want a badge for participation.
- Badges can connect a learner’s real life interests with school (or afterschool) activities and foster self-directed learning.
- By helping learners visualize a pathway to success, they become more motivated to achieve.
To learn more, check out the archive of the symposium at http://museumstudies.si.edu/.