Chapter 2: Defining Badges

This post is part of the online study group and discusses Chapter 2 of David Niguidula’s book Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges and Portfolios, published by ASCD.

Essential Question:

  • What do we want our students to know and be able to do?

Digital Badges are a declaration of purpose. The badges represent what we want students to achieve, and in turn, where we want to focus our teaching.

Some of the early work with digital badges has focused on defining badges in particular areas, such as community service, or demonstrating tech skills. That’s fine; it gets both students and teachers thinking about what a badge means.

Chapter 2 of the book suggests a more systematic approach. What are the skills, knowledge and habits that we want our students to possess?

It’s easy enough to come up with an initial list: students should be able to read, write, and problem solve. They should be able to work independently and to be part of a team. They should demonstrate good work habits (such as showing up on time) and strengthen their habits of mind. Undoubtedly, your school will have its own list.

One way to generate this list is simply to have all the faculty identify the different ways they see students gain skills and knowledge. You can ask, “In your roles as teachers, as coaches, as advisors, what do you see students learning?” This can create an interesting list.

This list can be a set of the different badges that students can earn. The next question becomes, which of these are required for all students, and which reflect a personal interest? Some things may be very common – for example, you may have the great majority of our students studying a second language. But is that a requirement? Would a student need to complete a World Language badge to graduate? Similarly, which habits are required?

The key here is to look at the set of badges as a whole – not just as individual items on a checklist. The required badges represent a vision of the whole child, in both academic and non-academic skills. If your goal is to have all of your students prepared for the transition to the next level , or to demonstrate college and career “readiness,” then the set of badges should represent the important elements of what it means to be “ready”

Some questions to consider:

  • What skills and knowledge are most important to you?
  • Are they all represented on your transcripts?

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