Increasingly, many states are encouraging the integration of computer science across all the grade levels. One of the best guidelines for organizing this work is from the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). CSTA’s recently revised K-12 computer science standards introduce the fundamental concepts of computer science to all students, present secondary-level computer science as part of STEM credits, and increase the availability of challenging computer science for all students, especially those who are members of groups underrepresented in technology-driven fields of study and work.
The CSTA computer science standards are organized into five strands:
Tens of thousands of teachers are going through professional development to bring computer science into their schools. Hundreds of school districts have embraced computer science in their curriculum. New York City and Chicago Public Schools — two of the largest districts in the country — have announced that computer science will be in all schools, and in Chicago, it is a required graduation credit. And in the past three years more than 30 states have responded to this growing interest by passing policies to boost computer science.
As your school moves toward computer science implementation, RicherPicture can help. Within RicherPicture, teachers can link assignments to the CSTA standards and create digital badges that define what students need to be able to do to demonstrate any of these expectations.
Digital badges are emerging as an exciting tool to assess student proficiency and integrate student interests with attainment of standards. Digital badges help increase student engagement, record achievements and measure students’ skills and readiness. But how does a school community come to agreement about what it means to earn each badge, and how do badges connect to school and state requirements?
A digital badge is a credential that students earn credit toward graduation requirements through their accomplishments. Most of us are familiar with badges in the context of scouting, and that’s a useful basis of comparison, because those badge represents proficiency in a specific skill, not just time spent learning.
In the context of schools, digital badges allow students to show their progress and for schools to implement competency-based teaching and learning. Digital badges can represent work completed within or outside traditional classes–for example, a student can earn a digital badge that demonstrates her mastery of biology standards through a science investigation completed in an afterschool community service experience. The same goes for music, dance, video production, or many other achievements that might easily count for academic credit. Well-defined digital badges allow students to measure their accomplishments via standards, and the flexibility that this provides can make those standards matter much more.
The key to successful digital badge implementation is agreement among school staff members about the specific requirements of a digital badge, and that badges need to be approved by a teacher as acknowledgement that they demonstrate learning aligned with academic goals. The upside of digital badges is that they are very flexible, but definitions need to be clearly understood by students and teachers. In addition to deepening personalized learning for students, digital badges fit elegantly into Richer Picture and other existing digital portfolio systems.