Fast forward to the 21st century. No longer do students write on paper - they write on their electronic devices. They turn their work in electronically. The teacher grades their work electronically, too. There is no paper to stick a gold star to (and indeed, the stainless steel refrigerator cannot even support a magnet). How can the teacher communicate to the student that the child's work is exemplary? How does the student relay to the parent that she did really well? How does the parent let the child know that he is proud of her? With badges.
Remember your Boy Scout or Girl Scout badges? (In 4-H, we had pins.) These badges are the same thing. The student earns a badge after completing a series of activities and demonstrating knowledge in a particular area. Only instead of having to sew them -or iron them- onto a uniform, they are posted on the student's digital portfolio.
Best of all, parents, you can tweet and facebook and instagram your pride to a much larger crowd of people than would fit in your kitchen. Now THAT is pinteresting.
"A digital badge is a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest that can be earned in many learning environments." HASTACIn my high school chemistry classroom, I have initiated my own series of badges that proclaim that a student has mastered a skill or achieved a science goal. My badges are a work in progress, and while criteria for issuing them are still evolving, they are my version of the gold star for my high school chemistry students. The lab skills badge on the left, with its criteria listed below, is one example. This badge was created using Credly. I can add the badge to the student's digital science portfolio when he or she has achieved the criteria.
Another type of badge is the Civics Competency badge I put together from Canva; I am obviously not a graphics designer, but you get the idea how this site could be used. I like the idea of having an actual "badge" look, with a ribbon or star, more than a postcard look.
Another is OpenBadges. This product has a badge designer page that is straight-forward, but a bit clumsy and with limited scaling options. My first attempt yielded the Skilled Collaborator beast below. It seemed like the harder I tried, the uglier it got.
One of my goals this year is to create a whole set of badges that align with my curriculum objectives. This includes both the chemistry curriculum, overall science skills such as the lab skills and graphing, plus the stuff like citizenship and tech saavy skills.
Where and How to Make BadgesThere are lots of ways you can make your own badges to give your students. Basically, any tool that can create an infographic can create a badge. I used Credly, Canva, and OpenBadges to experiment with, but you could use Paint or PhotoShop or any number of tools to design a badge for your students. It is up to you to define what it is and how it will be used. Do you need ideas? A conference for educators called the Reform Symposium E-Conference had a variety of badges to distribute to conference attendees, and viewing them may give you some ideas. Or you can use pre-existing badges and criteria, such as those at MakeWav.es.
Why and How to Use BadgesBadges are akin to a certificate of accomplishment, in an electronic, pictorial form, and everyone loves to earn a certificate of accomplishment. I am using badges to show that a student has attained certain goals and has a reasonable understanding of the concepts for a unit. A criteria list is super helpful for answering the "badge or not to badge" question.
My students have a digital portfolio where they store lab reports, digital presentations, and the like. When a student achieves a particular content knowledge or other goal, I will post the badge on their portfolio. The student can then download it and share it on other media. You can see the lab skills badge and criteria above, as examples. The Tech Savvy badge shown here is another example. As I said, I am still in the badge development stage, so I do not have a lot of my own to share.
- Community Service
- Science Team Participation
- Class Facilitator
- Aquarist (I have a fish tank in my classroom that requires cleaning and chemistry monitoring)