Click, Learn, Earn: Digital Badges the Next Education Game-Changer

By March 12, 2013January 27th, 2023No Comments
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Smithsonian Quests Digital Learning Badges

Leaders from education companies around the world will gather May 5-7 for the 2013 Ed Tech Industry Summit hosted by SIIA to discuss Navigating “Next,” this year’s conference theme focusing on what’s coming next in the teaching and learning process in a post-PC world. One of the most exciting new developments, that could have a wide-ranging impact on the future of education and will be a topic of conversation and sessions at the conference, is digital badging.

Kevin Carey, director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation, recently wrote in the New York Times that digital badges will soon come of age. The movement is supported by leading technology and education organizations, including Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation. The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sees badges as a way to “broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate – as well as document and display – their skills.”

A digital badge is a new type of credential gaining value among education providers and learners. Many experts believe the new credential will have greater currency with employers in the near future as well, because badges offer a more detailed picture of an individual’s knowledge and skills than do traditional measures. Digital badging is an outcropping of non-traditional learning methods and the broader range of educational settings enabled by technology and anytime, anywhere access. Thousands of K-12 and college students – whether enrolled in online or brick-and-mortar programs – may soon be proving their academic prowess through digital badges.

Several institutions of higher learning and K-12 education organizations offer digital badges. Earlier this year, the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies launched Smithsonian Quests, an interdisciplinary digital badging program for students and teachers. Learners have the opportunity to earn badges by completing project-based learning challenges with real-world applications, and submitting their work for review by Smithsonian education experts. The organization offers 16 badges, and plans to release new ones throughout the year. Another badging program that engages learners in the pursuit of real-world skills is “DIG/IT,” a collaborative effort by the New York City Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Readiness, and LearningTimes.

For more background on digital badging in education, Cathy Davidson, from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California Humanities Research Institute, provides a bibliography of resources on the DMLCentral blog: Why We Need Badges Now.

We’d love to hear how you are embracing this new trend – or why you’re not. Have you earned a digital badge? Are you offering a digital badging program? Share your thoughts with us on our blog or at the Ed Tech Industry Summit.