Are digital badges the new ‘disruptive’ technology?

Almost, but not quite

Even with the national movement towards digital badges, some school administrators, such as curriculum directors, say the digital badge may have to wait a bit longer.

“I’m not convinced that it will make the transition [from high school to college and the workforce] occur ‘more easily,’ but I certainly see the value of another measurement of educational achievement, if that measurement is well-defined,” says Joanne Carrillo, curriculum coordinator/instructional coach for St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge.

Carrillo explains that even though the idea of a standard for digital badges is “critical,” it’s not always up to enthusiasts to see disruptive technologies, like digital badges, implemented.

“As a curriculum coordinator and a proponent of gamification, I personally support the philosophy of badges. As an institution, our school has not considered the use of digital badges… As a teacher, I award badges for unit completion. These badges can be redeemed for bonus points on summative assessments. Our learning management system allows activity completion to be recorded, facilitating a record for earning badges. If this were a nationally supported initiative, our school would be willing to consider it; however, as a private institution, we are limited in resources, so the cost for development and maintenance of a badge system may be prohibitive,” she says.

A “nationally supported initiative” is something U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is currently proposing.

Duncan said that competency-based learning would expand access to affordable higher education, and Obama’s proposed FY 2014 budget includes funding through the First in the World program to develop third-party validation systems, or digital badges. The House-passed SKILLS Act also accepts industry-recognized credentials.

The 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America meeting also discussed digital badges.

Meris Stansbury

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