District Administration September 2017 - 49

BADGING

Breakthroughs
Digital microcredentials show a
bigger picture of students' and
teachers' abilities

By Matt Zalaznick

N

ext time you want to reward
students or teachers for going
above and beyond, consider
how you might turn that
recognition into something substantial-
something a high-achiever can add to a
résumé or an e-portfolio.
Give them a digital badge for excelling
in a skill such as teamwork or leadership,
and they can take it with them as evidence after they graduate or should they
seek advancement in their careers.
A growing number of districts now
award digital badges to students who
demonstrate creativity and critical thinking, and even for noteworthy experiences

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in after-school programs. "We have report
cards and exams that tell us how students
are doing with hard skills," says Amanda
Rose Fuller, a manager of one the nation's most extensive badging programs
at Aurora Public Schools outside Denver.
"What we want to know is about 21st
century skills-that really gives us a narrative about our learners."
Districts have also found badges give
educators extra motivation to progress
through professional development units.
Teachers now display badges by the doors
of their classrooms, in email signatures
and on their websites.
"A microcredential acknowledges the

professional in every educator," says Cate
Tolnai, an academic technology specialist
who oversees a PD badging program operated by the Santa Clara County Office
of Education in California, which covers
districts across Silicon Valley. The initiative even led one district to give a $250
stipend to teachers who complete a series of microcredentials. "It allows teachers some personal choice in their own
growth," Tolnai says. "It also creates cultures of celebration."
While badging may not yet rank as
highly as blended learning or makerspaces
among today's powerful edtech trends,
they are gaining momentum as a tool
September 2017 49


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration September 2017

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