What Role Do Digital Badges Play in Personalized Professional Development?

Where and when does learning take place?

The correct answer is…anywhere at any time! The way in which people retrieve, communicate, and distribute information has transformed over the past couple of decades. As we thrive in 21st century instruction, the school building from 8:00-4:00 isn’t necessarily the ideal place or time for learning to happen. This is true for students as well as teachers. For now, let’s focus on teacher learning and development.

Remind me about personalized professional development

As the sit-and-get style of teacher workshops become outdated, educators are engaging in more individualized, innovative learning opportunities classified as personalized professional development (PD). Through this means of enrichment, teachers align their goals, academic standards, interests, and schedules with quality training that is focused on relevant content and collective participation. Within the educational setting, personalized PD can assume a plethora of avenues, audiences, and arrangements as teachers participate in ongoing training and development through personal learning networks (PLNs) such as Edutopia, PBS TeacherLine, TeachingChannel(Tch), Digital Is, EdCamp, and Twitter.  

What are digital badges?

Digital Badges offer one route to personalized PD for educators. In simple terms, digital badges are virtual representations of skills mastered online. According to the MacArthur Foundation, “Digital badges are an assessment and credentialing mechanism that is housed and managed online. Badges are visible and validate learning in both formal and informal settings, and hold the potential to help transform where and how learning is valued”. Through this system, teachers acquire badges, also called micro-credentials, after accruing proficiencies and new skill sets through the internet. Badges are easy to share and showcase through a variety of social media websites.

How are digital badges effective in promoting personalized PD?

Digital badges provide a way for education to modernize credentialing methods and foster the personalized PD desired by teachers. Educators can heighten their instructional knowledge and strategy while accurately reporting their mastery simultaneously. Micro-credentials can be employed for numerous purposes. Through flexible pathways presented by badges, educators can cultivate their teaching identity and leadership capabilities, showcase their skill set for future employers, and spearhead a continuous cycle of learning and growth.

In conclusion

As the paradigm of how teachers earn and showcase credentials transforms, cultivating badges to assume and maintain objectivity and rigor is paramount. As educational leaders work to foster school cultures that value and encourage customized teacher training, school districts need to promote personalized PD opportunities that are flexible enough to meet the needs and interests of all teachers. With relevant, meaningful learning available for educators, students are sure to benefit with equally purposeful and motivating instruction.