Digital Badges to Encourage Learning
Gamers and users of “check-in” apps like foursquare and GetGlue, may already be familiar with the concept of earning digital badges for their online activities. Now, the Department of Education is partnering with Mozilla and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to develop a system for recognizing learning with digital badges. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said of the initiative:
“Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate — as well as document and display — their skills. By promoting badges and the open education infrastructure that supports them, the federal government can contribute to the climate of change that the education, business and foundation sectors are generating. We can build new avenues for entrepreneurship and collaboration, and spark economic development at home and around the world.”
The Digital Media and Learning Competition challenges major organizations like NASA, Microsoft, as well as other designers, researchers, and entrepreneurs to develop and implement badges and badge systems. Badges would be housed in an online platform developed by Mozilla that could be accessed by any user, school or other organization and would represent a sort of “digital backpack… showcas[ing] the skills, knowledge and competencies [users] have gained.”
For younger students, this could mean that they earn badges for mastering concepts in school, learning multiplication, for instance, or being able to identify the parts of speech. For older students and adults, the badges might recognize life experience, or skills learned on the job, as well as academic accomplishments. In addition to sharing accomplishments, the badges may represent a better gauge of users’ skills, potentially leading to real-world academic and employment opportunities.
What do you think of the digital badge initiative? Do you think earning badges would be effective in motivating you/your students to learn?