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As you may have read, one of my goals this year is to study different forms of learning credit. By ‘different forms of learning credit’ I mean alternative means of certifying someone has learned something. Degrees and certifications are usually used in formal settings, but what about informal settings? What about badges?

What the heck is a badge?

A badge is a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest that can be earned in any learning environment.

As you may have guessed, the badge concept comes from boy scouts and girl scouts who learn a concept, complete a task that demonstrates their knowledge, and get their accomplishment validated. Today, many social sites use badges to indicate involvement, like Miss O and Friends.

Recently, the concept has sparked some interest in education arena. Although this concept has been discussed before, it is now gaining some traction with the help of Mozilla and the McArthur Foundation. Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is describing this as a game-changing strategy to credit informal learning.

Why would anyone want to earn badges?

Imagine not being able to afford to go back to school in order to get a new position, a raise, or switch careers. You already have experience, but you don’t have enough credit in a certain concentration. Imagine just graduating from college and learning that your employer expects you to know a certain programming language that you didn’t learn in school. Imagine already knowing a portion of the content when you apply for a degree program. With the help of employers and academic institutions, badges can help credit informal learning experiences.

How Badges Work

Want to get involved?

Check out the Digital Media and Learning Competition:

Blog posts and articles about badges:

What are your thoughts on badges? Too hopeful or the wrong direction for education? Let me know your thoughts.


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