The other day I was asked if my badges system was compatible with the draft of the new ISTE standards for students. I said absolutely and here is my summary as to why.
One of the main goals of my badges program is to create empowered learners. I want to see students in the driver’s seat of their education, making choices and taking ownership for what they learn. But this empowerment shouldn’t stop at the classroom door. Students’ education should empower them to make changes in the real world. As I designed my badges program, I intentionally built in opportunities for students to use technology as a tool to change the world. The artifacts and culminating projects can-- and I would argue, should-- be designed to make a real impact on a local or global level. Some examples might include fundraising, raising awareness for a cause, event planning, or other charitable activities. This empowerment can be life-changing for students, both as learners and as citizens of the world. (Empowered Learner)
In order to have this world-changing impact, students also need to be creators and communicators. In a world where people feel a sense of accomplishment from “liking” or retweeting a positive message, we need young people who will take innovative action to create their own powerful messages. Instead of simply being consumers and receivers of the messages, videos, and stories that already exist, students should have the ability to bring their own meaningful ideas to life. To make sure their voices are heard, they need to learn how to speak so the world will listen. This means creating high-quality technology products with substantial messages. It means researching, performing, editing, illustrating, speaking, designing based on sound principles, but with the doors of creativity wide open. It also means completing work that will be heard and seen by real audiences, from their classmates and school to wider online audiences. (Creator/ Communicator & Innovative Designer)
With the ability to connect to worldwide audiences, global collaboration is another essential skill that 21st century students should be at least introduced to. As students are encouraged to become communicators, they will see that their messages can transcend national borders. Activities such as blogging, skyping, and working with e-pals easily connect students with a diverse range of people. When students are required to share their work with the world, the world just might respond. This isn’t a possibility when technology assignments are a narrow transaction between student and teacher. The badges program is meant to open up the lines of communication between students and their world. This happens both through the sharing of work with a real-world audience and by requiring research and interaction on an international scale. (Global Collaborator)
On the slightly less idealistic and more foundational level, we also need to help students become safe, savvy, and responsible users of technology. Before they are sharing their inspired creations with the world, they need to have a sound grasp of technology best practices. Today’s students are all digital students, and we have the task of guiding them as they navigate all of the opportunities and pitfalls that technology offers. From the basics of internet safety to the gray areas of copyright laws to the management of one’s online reputation, there are so many important topics that often get overlooked in schools. A badge program can easily, and should, incorporate all of these skills. And, as students become creators and communicators, they also gain empathy and identification with other creators of online material. This naturally leads them to develop respect for other people’s creations and opinions. As they become empowered students, they realize the great potential for good that technology has, helping them rise above the level of mindless, or even negative, uses of technology. (Digital Student.)
Still in the practical realm, the badge program also aims to help students manage, manipulate, and interpret the vast amount of information at their fingertips. As discussed earlier, the challenge facing today’s students isn’t accessing information. Instead, it is learning to find, select, store, use, break down, and share information in meaningful ways. Students need the tools to conduct effective online research, to catalogue their resources in an organized way, both for themselves and others. They also need the means to work with data to record and present it in a way that makes sense. The badge program equips students to make information and technology work for their purposes. (Knowledge Curator & Computational)
- Brad Flickinger
Panama City, Panama
Brad Flickinger is the Technology Resource Facilitator for The Metropolitan School of Panama in Panama City, Panama.