Sunday, June 24, 2012
Digital Badges for Learning < Remarks by Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
Remarks by Secretary Duncan at 4th Annual Launch of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Lifelong Learning Competition
SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
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I'm excited to be here to celebrate the launch of the 2011 competition, and its potential to propel a quantum leap forward in education reform. We're on the verge of harnessing education's power to unleash the full measure of human potential.
We're excited that, this year, this competition will serve as a catalyst to advance the potential of digital badges. 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.
Badges can help speed the shift from credentials that simply measure seat time, to ones that more accurately measure competency. We must accelerate that transition. And, badges can help account for formal and informal learning in a variety of settings.
Today's technology-enabled, information-rich, deeply interconnected world means learning not only can – but should – happen anywhere, anytime. We need to recognize these experiences, whether the environments are physical or online, and whether learning takes place in schools, colleges or adult education centers, or in afterschool, workplace, military or community settings.
In short, we must begin to see schools, colleges and classrooms as central points – though still very important ones – in larger networks of learning.
As we recognize multiple ways for students to learn, we need multiple ways to assess and document their performance. Students, teachers and administrators are hungry to move beyond fill-in-the-bubble tests, toward assessments that are more varied, immediate, and data-rich. Digital badges are an important step in this direction.
And, badges offer an important way to recognize non-traditional ways of learning. They're a way to give credence – and ultimately, credit – for the skills learners and teachers acquire in a broader set of learning environments, and a wider range of content.
Badges also empower students and teachers to play an even stronger role in their own learning and development – to seek out the right tools among many resources available, and in their fields of interest – and build a record of what they have mastered.
Since we know the best ideas always come from the field, and not from us in Washington, we've launched competitions like the Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, Promise Neighborhoods, and Early Learning Challenge Grants – to help seed and support change, to scale up what works, to increase student achievement, and to accelerate learning.
And that's why I'm so intrigued by the idea of digital badges. We're already seeing the impact of alternative, industry-recognized credentials ... [snip].
In this context, let's also consider the thousands of servicemen and women who return to civilian life each year, from posts at home and around the world. Many of our veterans bring back employable – and even exceptional – skills, competencies and achievements, gained all over the globe. Yet these talents can be overlooked in the civilian workforce, because they may not appear on traditional resumes and transcripts.
Here, badges can be a game-changing strategy. So today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative will join this effort with a commitment to award a $25,000 prize for the best badge concept and prototype that serves veterans seeking good-paying jobs in today's economy. [snip].
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.
With efforts like this competition, we can encourage breakthroughs in the types of free, high-quality online Open Educational Resources that lift educational attainment rates and foster renewed economic growth.
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