How can teachers empower students to demonstrate autonomy in setting and achieving learning goals through the utilization of technology?
ISTE Standard 1 and Developed Solution
In the first module of our EDTC 6102 course, my cohort and I were asked to explore ISTE student standard 1 through a developed inquiry question, using the QUEST Model for course design. ISTE student standard 1 is listed below.
- Empowered Learner – Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
1a. Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
1b. Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
1c. Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
1d. Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
When exploring this ISTE student standard, I began thinking about how technology can be utilized to build autonomy and empowerment in goal-setting. As I began to research methods by which to empower learners in their goal-setting autonomy, I came across several strategies and tools to support this growth. Through this research, the digital technology digital badges emerged as an innovative solution for empowering learners.
Imagine a digital technology that provided students with the opportunity to feel empowered in the learning process, to have autonomy in selecting their learning goals, and to show mastery of essential skills, through the submission of evidence-based artifacts. This is the innovative potential that digital badges offer.
What are Digital Badges?
Digital badges provide educators with a new avenue for assessing their students, and they offer an alternative for demonstrating understanding of a concept or showing mastery of a skill. By storing badges in an online system, students are able to display their digital badges and collaborate with their peers over shared skill mastery. When accessing digital badges, viewers can identify what essential skills were mastered within the badge and see correlating artifacts. As Kristin Fontichiaro (2015) explains:
“Digital badges have the potential to be the effective and flexible tools teachers have long sought to guide, recognize, assess and spur learning. And they can recognize the soft skills not captured by standardized tests, such as critical or innovative thinking, teamwork or effective communication” (n.p.)
Example of Digital Badges in Practice
During my research of digital badges and how to implement this digital technology into the classroom, I had some underlying questions that arose. First, how could digital badges be utilized in a way that promotes autonomy and scaffolded goal-setting, but did not have a negative influence on motivation of learning? Several of the case studies I researched focused on digital badges in higher education, so additionally I wondered what this digital technology looked like in a primary education setting. Navigation through my inquiry question eventually led me to an example of this digital technology in practice, that answered both of these derived questions. Aurora Public Schools Digital Badge Program exemplifies the utilization of innovative, empowering methods for digital badge practice. APS has not only partnered digital badges with essential skills connected to state standards, but through their digital badging program they have also collaborated with businesses in the community to develop digital badge partners. These community partners endorse Digital Badges, providing credibility to these essential skills and connecting this work to real-world experiences. Students work to achieve several “Journey Badges,” which are skills corresponding to an essential “Summit Badge.” As Aurora Public Schools Badge Program (2020) states, “When students earn a Summit Badge, they unlock an opportunity to connect with one of Digital Badge Endorsers for a Career Exploration experience” (n.p.) APS has developed a badging system that allows students to explore 21st century skills through a creative digital technology. In addition, their badging system differentiates tasks required to show proficiency in the badges at each grade level, but maintains cohesiveness in the terminology usage and essential skills.
Why Digital Badges?
With digital badges, students are given the flexibility to be creative in the ways they demonstrate their growth. Through the autonomy of selecting which digital badges they want to pursue, students develop empowerment and ownership in the learning process. Digital badges create the opportunity for students to have an active role in goal-setting. This digital technology can also serve, as seen in the example of Aurora Public Schools, as an opportunity to connect students to community partners. As educators look to explore answers solutions for strengthening student autonomy and empowering learners to achieve learning goals, digital badges offer an innovative solution.
Abramovich, Samuel, et al. “Are Badges Useful in Education?: It Depends upon the Type of Badge and Expertise of Learner.” Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 61, no. 2, July 2013, pp. 217–232., doi:10.1007/s11423-013-9289-2.
APS Digital Badge Program. (2020). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/aurorak12.org/badge/
APSK12Video. (2017, January 4). APS Badging Tips. Retrieved January 18, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2_fz4DHeNs&feature=emb_title
Bates, A. W. (n.d.). Fundamental change in education. Teaching in a digital age. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/chapter-1-fundamental-change-in-education/
Cheng, Z., Richardson, J. C., & Newby, T. J. (2019). Using digital badges as goal-setting facilitators: a multiple case study. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. 1-23. doi:https://doi-org.ezproxy.spu.edu/10.1007/s12528-019-09240-z
International Society of Technology in Education. (2016). Redefining learning in a technology-driven world: A report to support adoption of the ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/docs/Standards-Resources/iste-standards_students-2016_research-validity-report_final.pdf?sfvrsn=0.0680021527232122
ISTE Standards for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students
Jovanovic, J., & Devedzic, V. (2014). Open Badges: Novel Means to Motivate, Scaffold and Recognize Learning. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 20(1), 115–122. doi: 10.1007/s10758-014-9232-6
Tomaszewski, J. (2013). 21st-Century Student Assessment: Digital Badges. Retrieved from https://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/schools-students-digital-badges.shtml.