Learning in the 21st Century is no longer about using the same methods that were known to work to accomplish the same goals. With the changes in generational perspectives including motivation, relevancy and purpose, it has become vital that the way education is approached changes as well. Digital badging, differentiated and personalized learning all engage learners where they are.
“Digital badges are digital indicators of achievement and are most closely related to badges that may be obtained in scouting organizations, or the ribbons and medals that have long been standard in many militaristic organizations” (Fanfarelli, 2018, p. 2). Badges are used in many different settings such as workplace, professional credentialing, and education. There are three main components of badging: signifier, completion logic, and reward (Fanfarelli, 2018). Learners are looking for the motivation, in a busy world, to take extra time to complete a task. Additionally, the badges, similar to scouting and the military speak for themselves of the work ethic and ability of a person based on how many badges they have achieved. While badging sounds like a great concept to incorporate into learning objectives, it is essential to point out that the design and purpose of the badges is the most important. “Digital badges offer additional metadata and transparent representation of the skills, abilities and experiences valued by the badge user” (Gamrat & Bixler, 2019, 14). The variation in the badge design is determined by the organization. Learners can obtain a badge for attending a one-hour workshop or the badges can be aligned with successful completion of courses in an undergraduate or graduate level program (Gamrat & Bixler, 2019).
Differentiated instruction is defined by the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum as,
“a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is . . . rather than expecting students to modify themselves for the curriculum” .(Hall, 2002)
Using differentiated learning allows all students at all levels to be engaged in the activity and assignments for the classroom because the instruction meets them where they are. This tasks does not have to be overwhelming for teachers, they can incorporate differentiated learning by adjusting one thing: content (what), the process (how), or the product (demonstrates learning) (Huebner, 2010).
Bloom’s Taxonomy provides the model for learning, teaching, and assessing. Taking into consideration 21st Century skills needed and when used properly instructors can design curriculum that is learner-centered, incorporates badging, and meets the students where they are.
Differentiated Learning – Educational Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb10/vol67/num05/Differentiated-Learning.aspx
Fanfarelli, J. R. (2018). Designing Digital Badges to Improve Learning in Virtual Worlds. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 11(3), 1–10. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=shib&db=ufh&AN=134120991&site=eds-live
Gamrat, C., & Bixler, B. (2019). Chapter 4: Six Roadblocks to Designing Digital Badges: Three Internal Reasons. Library Technology Reports, 55(3), 14–16. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=shib&db=eue&AN=135677023&site=eds-liv