My friend Sarah and I have an agreement. The day either of us shows up at work in an apple-embroidered frock or wearing wooden jewelry that features pencils and the like, the other is to have an immediate intervention calling one to hang up the teaching hat. Now, don’t freak. If that kind of teacher-y attire is your thing, bless your sweet heart. Truly. Some of my very favorite teachers were dressed that same way. It just isn’t ours. More than anything, it represents, for us, being in too deep. Not continuing to change with the times. Becoming stagnant and typical in a profession that requires constant evolution and the courage to try that which might push boundaries. I’m midway through my career (oh wow…excuse me while I choke on this realization), and I am constantly on the hunt for new ways to look at everyday things within the scope of solid pedagogy.
Being in ed tech, specifically, I have the need for change smashed in my proverbial face daily. There’s quite literally always something new. Just when you have one site or tool mastered (if there is such a thing), there’s something sparkly ready to replace it. It’s sort of like a twisted version of Whack-a-Mole. However, in this summer of Pokemon Go and its Augmented Reality superstorm, I am finding delight in what changes can mean for students as we provide them with self-directed learning opportunities. We need to quit teaching AT kids. Our kids need to learn how to think and where to find… period.
One of the ways in which I plan to foster this is through the use of Digital Badging. Think of it as your dirt brown Girl Scout sash (is that why we were called Brownie Scouts?!?) or that green blaze of glory across your chest that proudly showed the world your masterful accomplishments. I worked hard on those suckers. HARD. Why? I had started many a campfire before becoming a Girl Scout. Why did I bust my backside to prove it to others? Because of that ding-dang badge, that’s why! It was a sense of pride. Of honor. Badges are visual representations of what we know. In the words of Sheldon Cooper…BAZINGA!
Creating Digital Badges can happen in myriad ways. There are several sites out there that allow a person to create badges. Credly and OpenBadges or even Canva all have badge-creating options. However, creating the physical design of the badge is much less taxing than the thought that must go into creating something that is badge-worthy. I’m also currently reading a few digital texts on the topic, and I suggest the book, Reward Learning With Badges, by Brad Flickinger. I picked it up at ISTE in Denver this year, but it’s available online.
The first thing to consider….are your badges one-time completion or are they a metabadge? Think of a metabadge like those pie-shaped game pieces that come with Trivial Pursuit, where there are lots of different accomplishments (micro-badges, if you will) that comprise the whole. Who are they for? Teachers to show professional development learning? Students to show aptitude for standards and skills? All of that must be laid out in advance to give you the big picture and help you set realistic goals.
The next step is to design the actual BIE site for project-based learning ideas that you can use for badging. If doing metabadges, collect several related, smaller projects that will fit under the same concept umbrella (ie; Digital Citizenship Metabadge).
These projects should be substantial and something that a person isn’t going to accomplish in one sitting. Use a rubric so students can see what the expectations are. (See this list from the BIE or create your own here).
Once you have created your badges, it’s time to roll them out to students. This can be done in a number of ways. Just like the Scouts, you could put them into a booklet (a digital book would make sense here) or a web page where students can always go back to check what’s available and what others have accomplished. Weebly, Google Sites, and Wix are three of my favorites for classroom websites.
Now, get after it. It’s a marathon, not a 50-yard sprint. I’m still in the early phases of this newest endeavor, but I’m excited about its possibilities. I challenge you to join me!