Sunday, June 24, 2012

'Digital Badges' Would Represent Students' Skill Acquisition



Katie Ash /  June 13, 2012

Initiatives seek to give students permanent online records for developing specific skills

For many adults, the thought of earning badges evokes childhood memories of sewing Boy Scout or Girl Scout patches onto sashes and vests.

But some educators are hoping that the current generation of children will associate the word with something new: digital badges.

In this vision, electronic images could be earned for a wide variety of reasons in multiple learning spaces, including after-school programs, summer workshops, K-12 classrooms, and universities. And once earned, the badges could follow students throughout their lifetimes, being displayed on websites or blogs and included in college applications and résumés.

The concept originated at the end of 2010 at a conference held by the Mozilla Foundation in Barcelona, Spain. The idea is getting a toehold in higher education and is being tried with some youths at the precollegiate level.

Advocates of this vision for K-12 contend that such badges could help bridge educational experiences that happen in and out of school, as well as provide a way to recognize "soft skills" such as leadership and collaboration. Badges could paint a more granular and meaningful picture of what a student actually knows than a standardized-test score or a letter grade, they say.

But not all educators are convinced of the merits of the idea. Because badges are still being developed and have not yet been introduced into classrooms, how they would fit into the structure of K-12 education and whether they could actually fulfill the goals that proponents have described are still up for debate.

Other skeptics argue that introducing digital badges into informal education settings—where most agree they would have the greatest impact initially—could bring too much structure and hierarchy to the very places students go to seek refuge from formal achievement tracking. And many point to research that suggests rewarding students, with a badge for instance, for activities they would have otherwise completed out of personal interest or intellectual curiosity actually decreases their motivation to do those tasks.

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Source and Fulltext Available At

[http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2012/06/13/03badges.h05.html]

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