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PROMISE AND POTENTIAL: Digital Badge Systems Are Promising Learning Tools for Effectively Demonstrating Students’ College- and Career-Ready Skills, New Alliance Report Finds

A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Badge Systems: The Promise and Potential, highlights how the growing use of digital badge systems in and out of school supports professional learning for educators and strengthening college and career readiness among participating youth.

“Like digital DNA, the set of badges earned by any given individual can reflect the interests and experiences that make the student unique,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Emerging systems of digital badges enrich course curriculum for students in both formal and out-of-school environments leaving them with valuable learning experiences that greatly support their capabilities in postsecondary education and the workforce.”

Digital badges are digital credentials that allow students to create a unique learning experience around necessary workforce skills, interests, and achievements. More than a letter grade or grade point average, digital badges improve student learning and outcomes by allowing the student to be the nucleus of their learning experience.

Digital badge systems are generating a considerable amount of interest. The report highlights several examples of systems in early stages of implementation, including those by the Chicago Summer of Learning, the Providence After School Alliance, Young Adult Library Services Association, and the University of California, Davis. With the support of the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and a host of other partners, these nascent efforts are part of a much larger movement toward connecting anytime, anywhere learning opportunities across a variety of formal and informal institutions.

The report offers several policy recommendations for introducing digital badge systems to a greater number of school districts. Strategies include transitioning from seat-time requirements for learning to more flexible models that advance students after they master course content. Additionally, the report recommends safeguards at the state level to ensure competency-based learning does not lead to at-risk students falling behind their peers and widening of achievement gaps. Recognizing the importance of student privacy, the report emphasizes the importance of clear protocols around how student data is collected and how student privacy is protected within a badge system.

“Given the potential of digital badge systems for improving college- and career-ready skills, more schools and school districts should consider their use to support a more rich and well-rounded learning environment for students,” said Wise.

Digital Badge Systems: The Promise and Potential is available at
https://all4ed.org/reports-factsheets/DigitalBadgeSystems/.

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