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Career/College Readiness: Digital Badges

T.H.E. Journal Volume 40, Number 5, ISSN 0192-592X


March was a big month in the world of digital badging. The MacArthur Foundation showcased winners of its Badges of Lifelong Learning competition at the Digital Media and Learning Conference in Chicago--one year after awarding those winners $2 million worth of development grants. The city of Chicago itself announced that badging would be a key component of its Summer of Learning program, which is being called the largest citywide learning campaign in the country.After 18 months of development and testing, the Mozilla Foundation, maker of the Firefox web browser, unveiled version 1.0 of its Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) specification. These developments signal the fast approach of a tipping point for digital badging in K-12 education. On its Summer of Learning website, the city of Chicago defines a digital badge as "a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest that can be earned in any learning environment." The badge, itself, is an interactive image posted on a web page and connected to a rich source of information such as criteria, evidence, issuer information, time of issue, and expiration date. In this article the author describes how badges are currently being used in K-12 schools, assesses the impact of Mozilla creating an open standard for digital badging, and questions whether a method of acknowledging extracurricular learning and creating an alternative pathway can find a place in the traditional K-12 merit system--a system that measures its progress by seat time rather than competency.


Waters, J.K. (2013). Career/College Readiness: Digital Badges. T.H.E. Journal, 40(5), 14-19. Retrieved November 29, 2020 from .

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