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By Julia Falkowski, Balboa Park Online Collaborative
Learning takes place everywhere, throughout a lifetime—and museums are an important part of the informal learning ecosystem. But how do we make these learning experiences count? How can we convey to future schools and employers that lessons outside the classroom provide valuable skills? The concept of digital badging, being explored throughout the worlds of education and credentialing, seeks to answer these questions.
Most people are familiar with the concept of badging from the scouting world, in which Boy Scouts' and Girl Scouts' physical patches match up with accomplishments, projects completed, and lessons learned. Digital badges are awarded online, but like scout badges, they represent a fun, moderately competitive way to track progress. Organizations like LRNG and the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub are developing online systems to formalize and support communities dedicated to digital badging.
Badging programs have come and gone over the past few years, but examining the badging programs that have lasted and those that have not provide valuable lessons about what successful badging looks like. This paper looks at museums’ past and current involvement with the emerging world of connected learning and digital badging, through the examples of San Diego’s Art and Science of Vision and the Pittsburgh Galleries Project.
It compares the models of these, and other digital badging projects, highlighting successes and challenges, and placing them in the larger context of current educational philosophy. Museums pride themselves on being public resources, with plentiful primary source materials and educational content. Museums are also in a constant search for relevance. By finding ways to incorporate into, and help advance digital badging, museums can take a more active role in shaping and supporting the future of education.