Digital badging: What do high school students think of digital badges? – Part 2

Youth participating in 4-H Renewable Energy Camp were issued digital badges for the content and skills demonstrated at camp.

Recently youth participating in 4-H Renewable Energy Camp were given the opportunity to earn digital badges for their work in solar energy, wind energy and bioenergy. Students identified and researched a problem, designed a solution, and presented their findings in front of the entire camp. Through this exercise students demonstrated problem solving, critical thinking, communication, team work and public speaking skills while gaining new information in renewable energy.

While digital badges are a new online mechanism to validate knowledge gainned and accomplishments they can also be used to demonstrate core competencies learned outside of school time. Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-H, and partners Michigan Department of Education and Michigan After-School Partnership are investigating how K-12 teachers and administrators could use digital badges earned outside the classroom and apply them as credit toward their high school degree. If a student demonstrates competency in a standard, but does it outside the classroom in an organized 4-H program, should it be acknowledged within the formal classroom? That is one of the questions that are being pursued. Another question is if digital badging is used to convey additional knowledge, skills and abilities possessed by a student, should they be used by college admissions or future employers to determine admission and employment?

Digital badging has potential, but what do students think of the concept? Youth participating at 4-H Renewable Energy Camp were asked a series of questions to learn their thoughts about digital badging. The results are:

  • 87 percent of students felt that receiving a digital badge validates the knowledge and skills gained at camp.
  • 92 percent of students reported that receiving a digital badge helps document all the knowledge gain; including which takes place outside of school.
  • 89 percent of participants are interested in earning more digital badges in the future.

Results indicate that high school students who have attend after-school programs are in favor of earning digital badges. This is part two in a series of articles by MSU Extension on digital badging. Other articles include Part 1: A bright new way for students to showcase their skills and knowledge, Part 3: Could earning digital badges help young people get a job,  Part 4: Could earning digital badges help your child get into college? and Part 5: Could digital badges be designed to represent different levels of learning?

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