Learning today happens anywhere and everywhere. It happens in
the classroom, on the job, in the community, and online. We can no longer think of learning in one way. Today’s social and economic challenges require learning that engages students, keeps pace with technological change,
teaches 21st century skills, and provides meaningful assessment of our learning. How do we recognize and value the way
learn today? What if we used badges? What is a badge? A badge is an online representation of a skill or achieved you’ve earned. They’ve been used in gaming and online
spaces to motivate behavior, recognize
achievement, and establish credibility. What if we used badges for learning? Badges could be created and issue by
anyone – schools, online spaces, cultural and civic
institutions, community and professional organizations – to represent a limitless set of skills achievements and
knowledge. Badges could be earned by anyone completing programs or projects, or
demonstrating specific knowledge, skills, and abilities. Badges could be shared on web sites,
blogs, social media profiles, online portfolios,
and resumes, leading to real opportunities like
connecting with potential collaborators, earning school credit, or getting a job.
But in order to give badges wide credibility and acceptance, a robust badge ecosystem needs to be
developed. Much work has already been done in critical areas. Mozilla’s Open Badges infrastructure
provides the software and open technical standard for everyone to earn, issue, and display badges across
various contexts. A growing community of badge experts has developed various models of badge systems for anyone to use and adapt. Significant research has been done to
provide a base of evidence about the potential of badges.
A campaign is underway enlisting employers, colleges, and
universities, urban school districts, and after-school programs to expand the
demand for and supply for badiging opportunities. The promises to ensure that badges
give everyone recognition for the learning that happens anywhere, and lets them share it in the places that
matter. So what do badges mean for learning? Badges recognize learning as a lifelong pursuit. For you, badges let us see that learning goes beyond classrooms. Skills like creativity and
collaboration and passionate interests become as
visible as subjects like math and science. Badges show our learning as
more than a collection of test scores and grades, but as learning pathways rich with
detail and information. This empowers students to guide their
own learning, teachers to better engage students, and colleges to expand their admissions
process. Badges continue into adulthood, recognizing the learning that happens in
various jobs, and in personal and professional development opportunities. Badges capture knowledge skills and
accomplishments not found on resumes. This helps workers transfer learning
across different industries and employers find the unique talent and
skill sets in demand. Badges cultivate critical values needed
in learning today. They make learning more open, democratic, and
transparent. They cultivate deeper and connected learning where learning happens through sharing. They make
learning more adaptable to change and open to innovation. Openness. Sharing. Innovation. These are the values needed in learning
today.