A contemporary way of contributing to a professional portfolio that is more reflective of learning in today’s world
Looking for new ways of collating and showing your professional learning? Or, thinking about new ways to support your learners to set goals? If so, open digital badge certification might be the answer.
What are Open Digital Badges?
Badges, also known as micro-credentials, are gaining global momentum as modern evidenced-based certification. Why is this? At a first glance, digital badges appear to be a visual representation of a person’s skills, knowledge, competencies and achievements. However, part of the richness to open digital badges is the evidence that sits in behind each badge detailing the learning. This ‘metadata’ displays information that records the badge issuer, the date issued, and the criteria required to earn the badge. Furthermore, open digital badges enable the badge earner to link to artefacts that contributed to the badge such as research, inquiry, reflections and videos thereby adding robustness to the badge. Selecting the displayed badge showcases the basic requirement information and any evidence of learning that the holder has chosen to share.
Types of badges
There are multiple types and levels of digital badges. Some are more light-weight than others perhaps recognising attendance at an event, such as ULearn15 or an Educamp. Other badges have stronger requirements, representing learning over a period, such as active participation in a research programme such as the eFellows.
Badges can be designed to be ‘stacked’ so that a series of smaller badges – steps in learning – result in an ultimate overall badge. The criteria sitting behind each badge indicates the level of work represented by the badge. No matter how lightweight a particular badge is, it becomes part of a learner’s journey and could have the potential to represent visually a distinct shift in learning direction when viewed over a period.
Earners earn their badge and store it in a repository, called a backpack. From the backpack, users can take and display their badge across their online profiles and evidenced-based resumes.
A holistic portfolio of learning
Badges can be earned from a range of sources, including formal and informal settings, presenting a broader and detailed record of each learner and their learning pathway. Not only can a wide range of expertise and knowledge be recognised, students can showcase their capabilities and competencies from a variety of settings such the Khan Academy, Kapa Haka, field assignment or community project.
Thinking of exploring badges for your learning environment?
Badges are still evolving, but there is a lot of information about how you can use these to showcase your learning, or to provide motivation and recognise achievements in your learning environment. As a starter, check out these sites:
Chicago Summer of Learning: The community of Chicago provides a range of hands-on learning for students during the summer holidays.
Smithsonian Quests: Experiential learning for the classroom and beyond.
He Tohu Oranga: Earn some badges for being a Connected Educator, with the Connected Educator Starter Kete.
As we begin to think more about new forms of assessment, how do you think badges might support your learning or that of your students?
“Re-imaging credentials for a new culture of learning”
– Badge Alliance, Megan Cole
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