Badge-Based Learning Competition Names Winners

The growing badge-based-learning movement, which provides students with digital credentials that challenge traditional measures of achievement like college degrees, got a boost yesterday. Winners of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, which began in September, were announced at the Digital Media and Learning Conference, in San Francisco.

The contest is run in collaboration with Mozilla, developer of the Web browser Firefox, which is working on a digital “backpack” that will allow learners to collect and display the skill patches they earn. It’s part of the fourth Digital Media and Learning Competition, supported by the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation.

Submissions were judged by criteria including the effectiveness of the assessment process and the likelihood that the badges will be accepted by institutions and employers.

Among the winners was Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Student Network badge system, which aims to teach computer science online. Students and hobbyists track their progress from beginner tutorials all the way up to industry-level certifications.

Design for America, a network of student-led studios pursuing social good through design, was selected for its badge community, which will let undergraduates track their design projects and share their stories with one another.

In addition to selecting the best badge-project proposals, the judges chose winning platforms for issuing and displaying the digital certificates. Winners included a partnership of two open-source tools: the learning-management system Moodle and the e-portfolio software Mahara. The collaboration will allow badges from outside sources to be displayed in Moodle’s grade books.

Open-source infrastructures will allow the badges to be visible and interactive, says David Theo Goldberg, a co-founder of the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (Hastac), which administers the competition. “We don’t want a proliferation of platforms that don’t speak to each other,” he says.

The 30 winners, selected from among 91 finalists, will receive development grants ranging from $25,000 to $175,000 and have one year to complete their work. The badge systems will be introduced early next year.

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by Bekathwia]

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