Why Badges in School?

For the past few weeks, and for the next few weeks, the YALSAblog is talking about badges. This week our focus is on the positive impact of badge programs in school environments.

An example of a school-based badge program is the New York City Department of Education’s course called DIG/IT. This course prepares students for life after high school. “The DIG/IT course provides a context that empowers and encourages learners to develop new real-world skills and knowledge that advance life goals, while engaging with others in a social give-and-take that builds community credibility and connections. Fun, motivating badges demonstrate to the world what the learners know and can do, and how others value their contributions.”

In June Education Week’s Digital Directions blog included a post about badges in which they discussed what advocates and skeptics have to say about badging within the K-12 environment. The post includes this statement, “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…”

While skeptics might not agree with some of the views expressed in the Digital Directions post, programs like that being piloted in New York City are looking at badge programs and related curricula as a way for students to gain and demonstrate skills and knowledge. As Cathy Davidson wrote on the DML Central Blog, “Let’s imagine a society where the only goal of teaching (it’s a high bar) is to help every child master what they need in order to lead the most fulfilling life they are capable of leading—productive, creative, responsible, contributing to their own well-being and that of their society. No grades. No tests. Just an educational system based on helping each child to find her or his potential for leading the best (Socrates would call it ‘happiest’) life possible.” Badging programs in K-12 environments might be just the way to get to Davidson’s vision.

You can learn more about badging programs and YALSA’s Badges for Lifelong Learning project in previous blog posts.

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