Badges in Career Tech Education

Everybody loves some recognition from time to time. Some students prefer to get quiet recognition, whereas others prefer to be on the stage. An electronic badge system can fit quietly in the middle, and could provide the recognition that students need to stay motivated, and apply themselves. Many students play video games, and will work for hours just to get all of the stars, an extra medal, or a badge of honor. These same students are likely to work just as hard when doing lessons in Code Academy. Students in our Multimedia Marketing program were working on Code Academy lessons, and worked for nearly an hour trying to get the top badge for the lesson.

Today I was doing some research about how to get administrators interested in building a PLN using Twitter or some other sort of social media tools. While reading Eric Sheninger’s blog I came across an article about digital badges written by Laura Fleming, Media Specialist at New Milford HS. It looks like Laura has put together the Worlds of Learning webiste for badges.  It looks like NMHS is using these for teachers and PD, not yet for students.

Career Technical education, like what is offered at Ohio Hi-Point Career Center is the perfect environment for badges. CT students are placed in environments each and every day in which they demonstrate the skills they have learned, and build upon those skills to learn even more. If each of our CT labs were to generate a list of 10-15 skills that were major accomplishments (and tied to content standards), each and every student would be able to put together an electronic portfolio showcasing some of those skills. Let me make an example by using an Automobile Technology student and potential skills:

  • Gasoline Engine basics
  • Fuel and Emissions systems
  • Electrical System
  • Transmissions
  • Air Conditioning
  • Brake system
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Shop Management

Over the course of the 2-year program, nearly all students should be able to attain mastery (and badges) in these key areas. Students often work on projects that are hard to take home and show parents. An electronic portfolio would allow students to upload photos of their work, and include the badges they have earned.

Additional badges could be given for students who take on additional leadership roles, advisory roles, or any other area that student’s hard work should be recognized. When designing an environment for this, we need to keep it available for several years after student graduation so potential employers can view their work.

The system that Laura Fleming has put together is based on WordPress, along with the BadgeOS, Credly plug-ins. Laura firmly believes in giving back to the community, and has offered to share her files so the system can be duplicated at other sites. I am helping her to refine the files so other schools can more easily build their own badge infrastructure.

Stay tuned for more info!

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