On Digital Badges, Participatory Learning, Flipped Classrooms

If you read this blog, you have undoubtedly heard about the new interest in digital badging systems. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education have all covered the topic in recent weeks (and most more than once). But to prepare for the level of attention sure to ratchet up come March, when HASTAC announces the winners of the $2M “badges for lifelong learning” grants, we thought it worth taking a look back at the talk that launched a thousand badges: Eva L. Baker’s “The End(s) of Testing.” Back in 2007, Baker gave the Presidential Address for the American Educational Research Association (AERA). After exploring a wide range of problems with the current use of assessments within schools, she focused on her key recommendation: the development of merit badge-like “Qualifications.” Reading her words now in the publication that grew from her talk, or watching the online recording of the original event (she begins speaking at 44:00), one is confronted by the remarkable vision and promise that has informed this grand experiment. Qualifications, according to Baker, “shift attention from schoolwork to usable and compelling skills, from school life to real life.” Accreditation will shift from just schools to a wide range of institutions. Youth will assemble their collections to show their families, adults in the workforce and in universities, and themselves. If you are new to thinking about digital badging systems, there are few better places to start to understand the pedagogical underpinnings of these efforts.

The Monster Infographic of Social Sharing (infographic) 

Monster, indeed! This is a pretty fantastic infographic on information being shared in recent years through the proliferation of social media and social networking.

The Flipped Classroom (video)

The meme of the “flipped classroom” keeps popping up, and we wrote about it late in 2011. This brief video Peer focuses on Aaron Sams, a teacher in Woodland Park, CO, who is writing a book on the subject, and why he flipped his classroom.

Getting In On the Act: How Arts Groups are Creating Opportunities for Active Participation (report)

Nina Simon, Executive Director of The Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, CA, and author of The Participatory Museum, turned us on to this great report from the James Irvine Foundation, which looked at more than 100 nonprofit arts groups and other experts in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Simon writes that the report offers “an argument for the rise of active arts engagement, a framework for thinking about ways to actively involve audiences, and lots of case studies.” For those working in youth media programs, this report can offer ideas to inform our own participatory learning practices.

Seven Rules for Judging Online Learning (blog)

An article in The New York Times, described by Cathy Davidson as “an excellent expose of the contrast between the dismal performance of online schools for the students versus the quite remarkable financial performance, on Wall Street, of these same schools,” inspired here to write seven rules for judging online learning. Before listing them, Davidson asks: “Is the motivation for online learning enriching an online experience more and more of us are having and finding new and inventive ways to learn? Or is the real motive enriching share holders, even if it is at the expense of real learning?” Davidson’s rules include not bring expensive technology into a classroom without changing the rules, models, methods, or content of the learning experience and “Teaching as if face-to-face time weren’t one of the most precious of gifts.” For anyone thinking about the power and perils of blended learning environments, this list should prove both provocative and insightful. 

Global Kids does a great job each month flagging important resources; Joliz Cedeno, Daria Ng and Juan Rubio contributed to this month’s list. Please share what you’re reading and watching, too! Global Kids’ NYC-based programs address the need for young people to possess leadership skills and an understanding of complex global issues to succeed in the 21st century workplace and participate in the democratic process.

Banner image credit: Global Kids http://www.flickr.com/photos/holymeatballs/6419376411/in/photostream/