A while back, I saw an online tip about resources for creating certificates for students. As I was reading it, I thought to myself, how 20th century. Paper certificates in this day and age? Kill more trees so students can bring home paper certificates which will just get stuffed away, or lost, or thrown out? It just didn’t make sense to me, so I began to wonder what people in Jewish education could be doing to recognize student achievement in a more digital fashion. If one looks at the secular educational world, one approach that is gaining traction is using digital badges. A digital badge “is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. From the Boy and Girl Scouts, to PADI diving instruction, to the more recently popular geo-location game, Foursquare, badges have been successfully used to set goals, motivate behaviors, represent achievements and communicate success in many contexts. A “digital badge” is an online record of achievements, tracking the recipient’s communities of interaction that issued the badge and the work completed to get it. Digital badges can support connected learning environments by motivating learning and signaling achievement both within particular communities as well as across communities and institutions.” (Source: Open Badges for Lifelong Learning)
The concept of digital badges has attracted attention from all across the educational spectrum. Even the Department of Education is actively promoting the concept (see Digital Badges for Learning). And these are some other great articles on the concept of digital badges:
Coincidentally, I came across this blog post the other day—Are Digital Badges and DIY Learning the Future of Education?
Seems to me that digital badges may be the perfect way to recognize student learning and achievement, both in school and independently. So where can you start creating a system of digital badges? One place is the Mozilla Open Badges Project. Another is the BadgeStack Project. I think it’s certainly worth your time to start investigating digital badges. I’d love to see an initiative in Jewish Education to help institutions create a recognized system of badges. It might be challenging to create a system of badges recognized all across the spectrum of Jewish Education but it’s worth considering. At the very least, it might be possible within individual movements to create a recognized digital badge system. In any case, any institution can create it’s own system of digital badges, and it’s up to each institution to determine if it’s necessary for their badges to be recognized by other institutions or whether it’s simply an internal system for measuring and recognizing achievement.
I’d be interested in collaborating and working with anyone out there who might be interested in establishing a system of digital badges for their institution, or for a broader audience in the world of Jewish education. (Note that this year’s Digital Media in Learning Competition, http://www.dmlcompetition.net/, the 4th annual competition of its kind, focused on creating badge systems that recognize Lifelong Learning. Imagine the posssibilities Jewishly!)
Another issue that plagues educational institutions, whether full-time or supplemental, is behavior. The net has been providing resources for teachers for years when it comes to dealing with behavior matters (my favorite resources has always been “You Can Handle Them All” which also now has iOS and Android apps so you can have its helpful advice right in your smartphone or tablet) but now it provides more than resources. Services like ClassDojo provide tools for positive behavior reinforcement systems, as well as recognizing classroom achievement, in real time.
Google has just introduced Google Drive. Like DropBox and Box.com, as well as the new Microsoft , Google Drive provides a way to share and sync documents between computers and other devices. The advantage to Google Drive is that it is actually part of the Google Docs system, so you have access to all the collaboration tools and office software of the Google Docs system – plus you can upload and download any files to/from your Google drive. Not sure which cloud storage solution is right for you? Gizmodo has a great comparison chart—Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and More Compared: What’s the Best Option?. Not sure how to utilize Google Docs in education. Read this: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2012/04/google-docs-for-teachers-free-ebook.html
Can’t get to Israel? Google Street View is now available for many parts of Israel, including Jerusalem’s Old City, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. Looking for pictures of Israel that you can use legally? Visit Wikimedia Commons/PikiWiki.
Here’s a great new way to share student work. ThreeRing allows you to photograph student work with your phone and upload it to the ThreeRing site, and share it with students, parents, your Board, etc. It’s free for teachers. You can preserve all that student work that often gets lost between school and home in digital format. Parents and supervisors will see real evidence of learning, and you’ll have a record of you students’ work without taking up space in a file drawer.
Diigo advanced bookmarking tool now has a special version for educators which allows you to share links and other information with students safely. Visit Diigo education to sign up and learn more.
Now is the time to start thinking about how to finish your school year strongly. There are many things you could do utilizing technology. How about having students create a podcast or maybe a Wordle sharing their favorite things learned/done during the school year? Or have your students write and send emails to next year’s students. You could create and offer some summer learning opportunities – virtual field trips, online scavenger hunts, web quests, Hebrew learning sites What ideas might you have to extend learning over the Summer? Share them with us so we can share them with others. As you use technology tools in your work, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Do you have a favorite online resource that might be unknown to others, or simply one that’s so useful you want to share it anyway to be sure as many people as possible know about it? I’d love to help you share the love. Need more information, some hand-holding, some translation of techo-jargon?
You can reach me at my contact points for my Technology in Jewish Education consulting work: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @yoeitzdrian I also blog and tweet as @migdalorguy and @havanashira.