Welcome! Login | Register
 

Happy Thanksgiving Central MA—This holiday season, be sure to give love,…

25 Ways to Give in Central MA this Holiday Season—The holidays are a time of giving -…

Celebrate Thanksgiving Weekend at Old Sturbridge Village with Your WOO Card—The weekend is fast approaching, and GoLocalWorcester brings…

Harr Motor Group Donates Coats to Families in Need—Worcester”s Harr Motor Group’s Coats for Kids program…

The Cellar: Thanksgiving Add-Ons—Thanksgiving is upon us and if you’re into…

Paul Giorgio: The Political Roots of Thanksgiving—Tomorrow we celebrated Thanksgiving, the most political of…

Newport Manners & Etiquette: Thanksgiving & More—Last minute Thanksgiving etiquette questions you may also…

Three Holy Cross Football Players Make All-Patriot League Team—Three Hol Cross football players receive All-Patriot League…

Rob Horowitz: Obama’s Immigration Executive Order; Good Policy and Good Politics—President Obama’s carefully calibrated, but still truly impacting…

Saul Kaplan: Thankful Innovation Junkie—I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. What’s…

 
 

Julia Steiny: Digital Badges Bust Out of School-Defined Learning

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

 

Damian Ewens sits in his snazzy office at BetaSpring, a Providence business incubator. He's mother hen to Achievery, a business that provides a platform for building "digital badge" systems.

And they are? Well, they're basically a high-tech version of Boy Scout badges, certifying that the young man sporting one of the iconic patches on his sash actually knows something about knot-tying, canoeing or cooking over a campfire. The Scout manual explains what skills that badge certifies and the criteria for getting one.

Okay, but a "digital" badge?

Ewens takes his diploma, a Masters from Stanford University, opens the leather-like cover and starts swiping and touch-screening it the way you would an iPad. "Stanford gives you accreditation. But what you've got is a static piece of paper." With his fingers failing to get more information out of the diploma's image, he says, "My daughters wouldn't understand a static diploma." They'd be looking for the "About" or "Who we are" buttons to find out what the thing is.

While few would question the value of an M.Ed. from Stanford, in math no less, really, what does it mean? Exactly? Can he manage a classroom? Teach algebra through computer coding? Map lessons to the Common Core Standards? We don't know. A digital badge might tell us. We take the famous credential on faith, but badges give detailed backup to credentials with less name brand. Furthermore, how does anyone verify valuable skills and knowledge that have nothing to do with schools?

Mozilla Corporation re-booted proficiency-based credentialing.

Ewens says that in the 1970s, educators struggled with how to reward academic competency and mastery, instead of seat time. Today most high schools still hand out diplomas based on sticking it out and completing so-many Carnegie Units. A "D" is passing. No big competency there.

So after teaching high school in both California and Rhode Island, Ewens took over The Hub, a cool hang-out and alternative-learning center for high-school-age kids. Its motto is: "Learning happens anywhere, anytime." The Hub conscripts community partners -- businesses, arts organizations, individuals -- to act as mentors and internship sites so Hub kids can have "Expanded Learning Opportunities" (ELO). Ewens needed to figure out how to arrange real high-school credits for these skills acquired out of school. And even if a high school does grant credit, where does it go on a transcript? What would a college make of it?

As Ewens pondered his challenge, the Mozilla Corporation developed OpenBadges, an infrastructure for organizing what they call a badge "ecosystem." To populate what they hoped would be a diverse and ever-growing world of badges, they offered 30 grants to developers to make badges for specific purposes and to collaborate on creating the online universe to support them.

Two years ago Ewens landed one of those prized grants, launching him into a cyber-world that allowed him to marry real-world skills to a credentialing system that validate kids' mastery and competencies. Now he's an entrepreneur building Achievery with a partner, Kerri Lemoie, a self-taught developer.

Ewens says, "The way we've structured school, there's no bridge from there (to the real world). The idea is to create an open global certification system that enables us to capture, enable and verify skills that happen anywhere. If there were a digital badge that replicates any academic achievement, we could get away from the Ivory Tower. A badge is a verified, data-rich product, better than a resume and endorsements from LinkedIn. The person on the street can click the badge and see exactly what it certifies and what evidence backs it up."

The anatomy of a badge

To qualify for display on Mozilla's site, a badge needs certain specifics, which Achievery explains here. An icon is essential, of course, but when the college or employer clicks it, they need to know what the badge means -- its name, issue date, the party issuing it, the criteria for earning it, and so on. Achievery works with clients to develop badge systems to capture employees' trainings, workshops and achievements. But Achievery also has a nifty do-it-yourself online kit that includes a free logo-maker.

Mozilla users can store badges in their own online backpack, effectively a hip, high-tech Boy Scout sash. A 10 FAQ will get you going both if you want to issue badges or earn them as supplements to your education credentials.

Mozilla's site emphasizes that it's not an either/or -- go to school or make your own education with badges. Education is evolving, but right now it badly needs to bust out of its rigid 4 walls and 6-hour day as the only source of learning. Schools can't teach everything, nor should they try.

So if you're applying to college and you're an expert sailor, rapper or elder-care worker, those skills deserve to be credentialed, with a whole lot more punch than a mere self-reported list on an application or resume.

Especially for people who are highly talented but no good at school, badges are a godsend.

Julia Steiny is a freelance columnist whose work also regularly appears at EducationNews.org . She is the founding director of the Youth Restoration Project, a restorative-practices initiative, currently building demonstration projects in Rhode Island. She consults for schools and government initiatives, including regular work for The Providence Plan for whom she analyzes data. For more detail, see juliasteiny.com or contact her at [email protected] or c/o GoLocalProv, 44 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI 02903.

 

Related Slideshow: Central MA School Districts with the Highest Teacher Evaluations

During the 2012-2013 school year, Race to the Top (RTTT) districts in Massachusetts were required to implement the new Educator Evaluation framework with at least 50 percent of their educators district-wide. Of Central Massachusetts’s 52 school districts, 26 implemented the Educator Evaluation structure. These 26 school districts are listed below ranked from the lowest teacher evaluation score to the highest. Keep reading to see where your district’s teachers rank, as well as to view the state and regional averages.

Prev Next

State Average

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 7.4%

Percentage with proficient scores: 85.2%

Percentage that need improvement: 6.8%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.7%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 37,940

Total number of educators evaluated: 61,441

Prev Next

Central MA Average

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 5.1%

Percentage with proficient scores: 88.2%

Percentage that need improvement: 6.4%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.04%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 8,843

Total number of educators evaluated: 5,987

Prev Next

#26 Quaboag

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 6.3%

Percentage with proficient scores: 75.0%

Percentage that need improvement: 18.8%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 131

Total number of educators evaluated: 80

Prev Next

#25 Oxford

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 8.7%

Percentage with proficient scores: 73.9%

Percentage that need improvement: 17.4%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 168

Total number of educators evaluated: 46

Prev Next

#24 Uxbridge

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.0%

Percentage with proficient scores: 84.2

Percentage that need improvement: 15.8%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 162

Total number of educators evaluated: 19

Prev Next

#23 Fitchburg

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 8.6%

Percentage with proficient scores: 77.3%

Percentage that need improvement: 13.3%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.9%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 456

Total number of educators evaluated: 233

Prev Next

#22 Westborough

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 1.5%

Percentage with proficient scores: 86.6%

Percentage that need improvement: 10.4%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 1.5%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 335

Total number of educators evaluated: 67

Prev Next

#21 Lunenburg

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 1.4%

Percentage with proficient scores: 87.7%

Percentage that need improvement: 10.9%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 1,209

Total number of educators evaluated: 495

Prev Next

#20 North Brookfield

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 2.7%

Percentage with proficient scores: 86.5%

Percentage that need improvement: 10.8%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 59

Total number of educators evaluated: 37

Prev Next

#19 Millbury

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 3.3%

Percentage with proficient scores: 87.9%

Percentage that need improvement: 6.6%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 2.2%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 158

Total number of educators evaluated: 91

Prev Next

#18 Blacktone-Millville

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 10.6%

Percentage with proficient scores: 81.9%

Percentage that need improvement: 7.4%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 162

Total number of educators evaluated: 94

Prev Next

#17 Southbridge

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 9.9%

Percentage with proficient scores: 83.6%

Percentage that need improvement: 5.9%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.7%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 212

Total number of educators evaluated: 152

Prev Next

#16 Worcester

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 6.2%

Percentage with proficient scores: 87.7%

Percentage that need improvement: 5.6%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.4%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 1,859

Total number of educators evaluated: 1,825

Prev Next

#15 Webster

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 10.9%

Percentage with proficient scores: 83.2%

Percentage that need improvement: 5.9%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 159

Total number of educators evaluated: 101

Prev Next

#14 Hudson

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 3.9%

Percentage with proficient scores: 90.8%

Percentage that need improvement: 5.2%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 288

Total number of educators evaluated: 153

Prev Next

#13 Gardner

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 3.3%

Percentage with proficient scores: 91.7%

Percentage that need improvement: 5.0%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 227

Total number of educators evaluated: 120

Prev Next

#12 Dudley-Charlton

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 6.5%

Percentage with proficient scores: 88.7%

Percentage that need improvement: 4.2%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.6%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 320

Total number of educators evaluated: 168

Prev Next

#11 Northbridge

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.5%

Percentage with proficient scores: 95.5%

Percentage that need improvement: 4.0%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 229

Total number of educators evaluated: 200

Prev Next

#10 Winchendon

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.7%

Percentage with proficient scores: 95.6%

Percentage that need improvement: 3.6%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 139

Total number of educators evaluated: 137

Photo: Flickr/AdmissionsQuest

Prev Next

#9 Bellingham

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 1.0%

Percentage with proficient scores: 95.6%

Percentage that need improvement: 3.4%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 215

Total number of educators evaluated: 206

Prev Next

#8 Quabbin

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 4.5%

Percentage with proficient scores: 92.5%

Percentage that need improvement: 2.5%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.5%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 207

Total number of educators evaluated: 199

Prev Next

#7 Grafton

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.0%

Percentage with proficient scores: 97.2%

Percentage that need improvement: 2.8%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 253

Total number of educators evaluated: 178

Prev Next

#6 Ralph C. Maher

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 2.6%

Percentage with proficient scores: 94.7%

Percentage that need improvement: 2.6%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 79

Total number of educators evaluated: 76

Prev Next

#5 Marlborough

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.9%

Percentage with proficient scores: 96.2%

Percentage that need improvement: 2.8%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 434

Total number of educators evaluated: 423

Prev Next

#3 Auburn (Tied)

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.0%

Percentage with proficient scores: 99.1%

Percentage that need improvement: 0.9%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 202

Total number of educators evaluated: 116

Prev Next

#3 Leominster (Tied)

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 0.0%

Percentage with proficient scores: 99.1%

Percentage that need improvement: 0.9%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 523

Total number of educators evaluated: 332

Prev Next

#2 Wachusett

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 29.1%

Percentage with proficient scores: 70.3%

Percentage that need improvement: 0.6%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 534

Total number of educators evaluated: 334

Prev Next

#1 Douglas

Teacher Scoring Breakdown:

Percentage with exemplary scores: 9.5%

Percentage with proficient scores: 90.5%

Percentage that need improvement: 0.0%

Percentage with unsatisfactory scores: 0.0%

Sample Details:

Number of educators to be evaluated: 123

Total number of educators evaluated: 105

 
 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.