What’s a Digital Badge?
A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned, a class you’ve taken, or a task you’ve mastered. Earn badges and then display them online on your website, blog or on your social media accounts (like Facebook and LinkedIn). Digital badges make learning visible.
Digital badges are currently being used by libraries in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:
- Many libraries now include a Summer Reading component incorporating digital badges; see Poudre River Public Library District and DC Public Library, for example.
- Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of ALA, is developing a badge system to help library staff gain skills based on YALSA’s Competencies for Serving Youth in Libraries.
- A high school media specialist in New Jersey created a system for teachers to earn digital badges by learning about technology tools and applications.
- The Brooklyn Public Library received an IMLS grant and is partnering with BiblioCommons to create and pilot an online badging system.
Badges and Professional Development
Infopeople is exploring the potential of digital badges for professional development. How could digital badges be connected to professional development for library staff? What is their potential as a way to motivate learners and also as a way to document and validate professional development? To consider this, let’s look at a scenario.
Karen graduated with her MLS several years ago and is employed as a Reference Librarian. She has taken numerous online Infopeople courses for professional development. She downloads a Certificate of Course Completion after each course and shares it with her supervisor. Karen would like to become a library director and has also been taking online Infopeople courses to develop some of the skills and knowledge she will need in that role. She recently applied for a director position and on her resume, she listed the relevant Infopeople courses she has completed.
What if digital badges were issued instead of (or in addition to) Certificates of Course Completion? One of the things that badge advocates are excited about is that, unlike a Certificate of Course Completion, a badge can contain links to evidence of learning, such as artifacts produced by learners.
Digital Badge Scenario
Karen would receive a digital badge for each of the courses she has taken. She could include these on her website, blog, or social media sites (like Facebook and LinkedIn). When her supervisor or a potential employer clicks on the badge, they will see an outline of content covered in the course and examples of work Karen completed for the course.
There are, of course, numerous questions and issues that would need to be addressed. For example, Karen may take advantage of professional development opportunities beyond Infopeople. Will other organizations offer badges, too?
As we explore the possibilities, we’d like to hear your thoughts about digital badges! Please take a few minutes and respond to the questions in this brief survey. Your input will not only help us better understand how badges could support learners in Infopeople courses, but will also help us identify training needs that exist. We’ll share what we learn in a follow-up post. Thank you for your time!