Badges: Connectors in Connected Learning

badges-connectorsDigital badges are the “connectors” in a connected learning environment, helping to create opportunities for youth to follow their passions through academic learning within a peer community. (Image inspired from a slide from the Reconnect Learning 2014 Open Badges Summit.)

From tuning into the livestream from the Summit, I had the opportunity to hear MacArthur Foundation’s Connie Yowell speak about the power of badge learning.  She reminded us that digital badge learning is grounded in current research that portrays how youth interact with digital media.  Principles of Connected Learning support youth in”hanging out,” “messing around,” and “geeking out” or (HOMAGO).    Badges serve as feedback in the learning journey, mark milestones and provide multiple pathways.  Powerful learner/mentor relationships are a cornerstone of the badge learning experience, where adults coach learners in their quests to learn.  Badge learning supports multiple purposes, but the connected learning framework is at the heart of the design, which provides highly engaging, purposeful and accessible learning opportunities for youth.  To explore some of the livestream sessions from the Summit , go to the Moziliarian Blog.

News on How Badge Learning is Scaling Nationally
A few weeks ago leaders at the Reconnect Learning 2014 Open Badges Summit shared exciting news and developments around advancing an open badges global ecosystem.  Take a look at the Case Studies from the Reconnect Learning site to explore a variety of badge learning models and initiatives, as well as the Knowledge Bank to learn more about badge learning developments and trends in the field.  Pearson, ETS, and edX are just a few organizations who are adopting the open badges standard.  In addition, Mozilla launched Badgekit, an “out-of-the-box” tool to issue, create and assess badges, and Mozilla announced the formation of the Badge Alliance, a “network of organizations and individuals building and enhancing an open badges ecosystem”.  (Learn more about the purpose of the Badge Alliance here.)  And finally, take a look at the “2M Better Futures” site to learn about the campaign to scale up the open badges ecosystem to a national level, benefitting 1 million workers and 1 million students by 2016.


Badge Program Design: Signature Process


In the fall TAMRITZ visited four schools in the 2013-14 Badge Learning Network cohort to kick off their badge learning curriculum design processes, including Kehillah Schechter Academy, Krieger Schechter Day School, The Moriah School and Seattle Hebrew Academy.

TAMRITZ developed and implemented a unique training program that is process-based and flexible.  The training program supports schools in:

  • Building Team:  Identify values, skills and content; determine badge learning advisory team functions and process
  • Designing Badge Learning Programs:  Constellation, architecture, taxonomy, program guide, curriculum focus
  • Setting Goals:  Work plan, deadlines, monthly check-ins/webinars and ongoing coaching
  • Launching Badge Learning Programs

The Moriah School’s Badge Learning Advisory Team

Training Kicks Off Online First…

Uber-MainSchools enter the badge learning design program after an intensive professional development, badge-based course, “Digital Age Teaching.”  The Digital Age Teaching course levels up the badge learning advisory teams’ skill sets in modern learning literacies; pedagogoical practices; and tools that naturally support learning in the Grades 5-8 classroom.  Digital Age Teaching also provides an introduction to open badges, and a safe community of practice for educators to play, tinker and learn through new media.  Through this immersive experience, teachers begin to understand the multiple layers and components that a badge learning experience might include.  Read more

One Classroom’s Journey

head shot 3(1)This guest post is by Elizabeth Ebersole, Language Arts Teacher, Seattle Hebrew Academy.  She participated in this summer’s TAMRITZ badge-based professional development Digital Age Teaching course, which kicked off her synergy for transforming how learning happens in her classroom this year.  In this post, she reflected at the start of the school year on how she plans on approaching learning with her students.  Tweet Liz @LizTekkie to find out what has transpired in her classroom since this reflection.

In past years, I spent the first days/weeks of school talking about Learning Styles and Project-Based Learning. I would have my students take a Learning Styles Quiz on paper and then we would discuss the results and the project choices they would be able to make in order to show what they know. We would also set up their Readers’ Journals, which were marble composition books. I would distribute the workbooks we would use for Language Arts and the textbooks we would use for Social Studies. I would make copies of countless worksheets. I would introduce (or reintroduce) them to the “black bin” at the front of the room, which was the collection spot for all of their assignments.  Read more

Badge-Based Professional Development: Purposes & Possibiliites

Digital Age Teaching Course

Uber-MainThis past summer TAMRITZ welcomed six schools to the Digital Age Teaching, badge-based online professional development course, including the Epstein SchoolKehillah Schechter Academy, Krieger Schechter Day School, Moriah School, Portland Jewish Academy and Seattle Hebrew Academy.  The course provided educators an opportunity to take on the role of learner within a supportive, connected learning community.  Teachers and administrators were encouraged to embrace the modern learning ethos for the course, which is based on principles of game-like learning, principles of connected learning and project-based learning.

Ethos of Course:

  • Hard fun Challenge yourself, solve problems and embrace interests.
  • Play: Learn through tinkering and welcome a messy process.
  • Flow:  Engage joyously and take satisfaction in creative accomplishments
  • Fail fast, fail forward:  Fail for fun and learn through multiple iterations.
  • Collective wisdom:  Stand on the shoulders of your colleagues.
  • Naches: Take pride and joy in helping others succeed.
  • Curiosity:  Create a “need to know” in learners.
  • Generosity: Share, participate, comment and engage.  Read more

Do It Yourself Badges

badgelearningThere is a great deal to consider when designing your own badge learning program and system.  Here at TAMRITZ, we take these matters seriously, considering elements of instructional design, student agency over the learning, project-based learning, core content, elements of gamification, connected learning principles and digital media literacies.

Connected Learning TV is hosting a series of webinars on digital badge learning, and the latest from this series focuses on “Do It Yourself Badges.”  Whether you are interested in exploring badge learning tools or just want to learn more about how badge learning works, approaches to design and lessons from the field, this webinar features multiple perspectives.

Here are some of the highlights from the webinar…  Read more

Why Should You Care About Badges?

Here is a lively and passionate conversation between Cathy N. Davidson, Jim Diamond and Sheryl Grant, considering the value and learning possibilities that digital badges can offer students.

Watch live streaming video from connectedlearningtv at

Update on Badge Learning


Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges

A a current report on badge learning and its potential in K-12, higher education and in the workforce (from Alliance for Excellent Education and the Mozilla Foundation.)

“Badges can provide a learning ‘map’ to help learners see the skills that matter and the options for gaining those skills.”

Coming soon from TAMRITZ…a series of blog posts on badge learning and professional development in the trenches. Stay tuned!

Badge-Empowered Learning Design at Summer Sandbox 2013

TAMRITZ is virtually presenting at the RealSchool’s Summer Sandbox, July 9, 2013.  Here are the resource materials related to this interactive learning session:


Collaborative Google Doc:  Badge Learning Design Case Study, George Orwell’s 1984

TAMRITZ’s badge learning page for the Summer Sandbox


Slidedeck:  Badge-Empowered Learning With TAMRITZ

What is a Badge?

Here is another succinct explanation of badge-empowered learning:

from the folks at Mozilla (3:37)

Open Badges – Explained!

This short video will help you wrap your head around the concept of open badges and badge-empowered learning. Imagine the possibilities for your own students and for demonstrating what learners know and can do!

“A Short Story About Open Badges” from the folks at Mozilla (3:39)