High school students in Providence, R.I., will now receive school credit for learning experiences outside the classroom through a new digital badging initiative launched by the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) and the Mozilla Foundation.
According to the alliance, the Providence district is the first in the country to give academic credit for digital badges, which can be earned by completing out-of-school work ranging from participating in an urban debate league to taking a studio-arts course at a local museum, it reports.
For those unfamiliar, “digital badges” are virtual commemorative patches that recognize work, activities, or tasks, much like Girl and Boy Scout badges, only digitized. The idea is to encourage connections between in- and out-of-school learning and get students more engaged in school by recognizing how their interests and pastimes can be academically enriching.
In the new project, PASA’s expanded learning initiative for high school students, called the HUB, will award students digital badges for out-of-school academic work that can then be approved for credit by the local school system. The learning experiences are evaluated by PASA to ensure they align well with school day content and are academically beneficial.
“Digital badges allow our students to get recognition for their learning that happens anytime, anywhere. Badges provide a way for students to manage and connect their skills that can potentially open up new opportunities,” said Damian Ewens, PASA’s director of high school initiatives, in a press release.
To launch the new project, PASA applied for and won funding through a digital badging grant competition sponsored by Mozilla, a nonprofit that supports open-source Web content and the Firefox Web browser, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation has spent more than $80 million to date to support innovative digital learning work that targets and affects children and young adults.
I have written about PASA’s expanded and extended learning work in the past, particularly its middle school After Zones program, after-school campuses of connected community resources, and the new expanded learning project with local schools launched last year. I also discussed some of the MacArthur Foundation’s other digital learning work in a story I wrote several months ago on digital learning in out-of-school spaces.
My colleague Katie Ash covered the digital badging “movement” in an article we featured in June of last year.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.