open badges

How digital badges are shaking up teacher PD

Examining the future of digital credentials and badges for K-12 professional development and professional pathways for teachers.

The topic of teacher professional development has dominated discussions about teacher quality and retention for years. While some progress has been made, there is still no standardized means for teachers to develop a portfolio of credentials aligned with the always-evolving set of skills and strategies they bring to their classrooms.

Digital badging has arrived on the scene as a leading contender to close this gap and help provide teachers with a clear path to professional growth, and the micro-credentials to prove it. This is an important breakthrough for a profession in which a lack of career mobility too often leads to top talent leaving for administration roles or private sector jobs.

The Badging Benefit

Badges provide a unique opportunity to allow teachers to expand their professional knowledge in ways that are relevant, valuable and engaging.

Badges help teachers focus on relevant professional developments opportunities because they support personalized learning. Rather than the old model in which professional development is offered in a seminar or lecture setting, teachers can choose the learning they want to pursue based on what will be most relevant to them and their students.

Moving beyond the traditional credit-hour model of professional development to a competency-based system is another benefit of badge systems. Badges are earned based on learning evidence rather than just seat time. This means that teachers can display the competencies that they have developed throughout their professional careers. Should a teacher choose to move to another teaching opportunity, their badge profile will follow them and help demonstrate their value and abilities as their career progresses.

Badges are engaging in part because they employ game mechanics to inspire collaborative competition. When teachers are able to track their progress, and celebrate the work of their colleagues, excitement levels build to help generate enthusiasm around professional learning. In the Open Badges community at Badge List, we’ve seen many districts reach tremendous levels of excitement because teachers are able to share their experiences and get inspired by the projects and learning evidence of colleagues.

(Next page: Edtech as a starting point; looking ahead at digital badges for PD)

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