Are digital badges the new ‘disruptive’ technology?

Digital badges for students, teachers, and administrators

Already, Mozilla’s OBI and other institutions’ badge initiatives are inciting state departments of education and district superintendents to start digital badge projects of their own.

A digital badge program created by the National Design Museum and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt integrates badging into a DesignPrep program for underserved New York City high school students.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also got on the digital badge bandwagon this past summer through the “Summer of Learning,” which allowed student to earn digital badges through Mozilla. Teachers then used student digital badge information to help align coursework around interests and capabilities.

Another example is the Providence School District in Rhode Island, which is piloting a badge program and awarding credit to students who engage in badge-earning learning experiences outside of schools. This digital badge pilot is part of the district’s emphasis on student completion of courses needed for graduation based on credit rather than “seat time.”

Examples of digital badge initiatives in higher education include: The University of California Davis, Arizona State University, and Indiana University.

Examples of current badges programs supported by different organizations include TopCoder, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, The Badges Work for Vets program, Planet Stewards, the NASA Content Group, StackOverflow, Khan Academy, and Badgestack.

But digital badges aren’t always student-related–many programs cater to teachers and administrators.

For instance, the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Badges Competition called for “Teacher Mastery” projects, and as part of Connected Educators Month, the U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators Initiative solicited additions for a database of developmental opportunities for teachers to earn badges.

An example of Teacher Learning Journeys’ badges.


Teacher Learning Journeys is another program piloting the use of digital badges for PD in the sciences.

(Next page: National initiatives and concerns)

Meris Stansbury

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