Educators: School or Program Administrators

Recruitment – Program or School Administrators.

(Teachers, Program Leaders or Instructors: please see this page)

June 2013

Dear Colleague,

My name is Angela Elkordy. I am a doctoral candidate from the College of Education, Educational Leadership department, at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI. Like you, I am interested in exceptional learning experiences for youth, and for that purpose, I am conducting a research study about digital badges for learning in STEM subjects. I would like to invite you and your team to participate in this for learners in grades 6-10 in science, math and associated disciplines.

About Digital Badge Assessments

Digital badges are already being used successfully in a variety of environments and communities in which our youth participate, particularly in social media, gaming as well as the girl or boy scouts. In these contexts, badges are used to assess, recognize and communicate learning and achievement. Importantly, if the learning objectives or badge criteria are supported by rubrics or performance standards, digital badges can scaffold the learning process. Also, by functioning as a metacognitive tool and formative assessment, badges can encourage the self-directed learning behaviors as an educator, you would like to see.

Digital badges can be very effective and flexible tools for teachers to guide, assess and recognize and motivate learning. Digital badges can provide data of evidence-based impact in a wide variety of subjects not currently assessed or measured. As a former school administrator, I understand the challenges of effectively evaluating both staff effectiveness and student learning. Digital badges can help to scaffold, guide, measure and communicate the learning you know is valuable and going on in your buildings or programs, but which may not currently be assessed and hence, remains unacknowledged.

Administrators working in K-12 contexts already understand the need for continuous improvement and reaching for excellence. Digital badges present a great deal of promise for educational practitioners working in a variety of formal and informal learning contexts – for their students as well as for their own professional growth. It’s essential, however,  we need to have a research base to substantiate the use of digital badges. By participating in this study, you are advocating for the potential badge earners by supporting research into alternative assessments, which acknowledge and value learning within and beyond the frameworks of state and national standards.

Educators can work alone or in teams to create their own badges which could possibly motivate students while teaching them important skills to enhance their own abilities to learn (as well as content!). As another measure of learning, digital badges could also evidence the learning occurring in the classroom or at home, which isn’t captured by standardized tests, such as capacities for critical thinking, innovation or soft skills such as team work or good communication. As an administrator, you are looking for multiple measures of the effectiveness of your programs and/or curriculum and instruction.

The Need for Research in Implementing Digital Badge Programs in K-12 Contexts

The use of digital badges in education, which is creating significant interest nationwide, can be powerful for both students and teachers. We often hear how much our students like badges, but as of now, there isn’t much research on how they might work to motivate students or to scaffold mastery learning as instructional or cognitive tools. The purpose of my study is to collect data which can inform educators about the use of digital badges to recognize learning in both formal (classroom) and informal environments.  The badge study is designed, as much as possible, to be content independent so that participants can teach their own units which are aligned with digital badge criteria. When learners evidence achievement at a badge level, teachers will award badges.

Participant Responsibilities

If you decide to participate in this study, you will be asked to provide support and minimal resources (planning time) for your teachers. They will be asked to take two surveys themselves (before and after the badge program), to administer the badge program within the context of your existing curricula and programs and after the badge program concludes, the teachers will be asked to take another survey and facilitate the administration of a surveys to their students/ program participants. It is anticipated that each survey will take approximately 15-20 minutes each to complete. The survey questions are designed to measure various kinds of motivation, self-efficacy, Internet and digital media use, as well as interest in science and math subjects.

Professional Development – Digital Badge Design

Your assistance in this innovative project would be greatly appreciated; the study has been designed to minimize the impact and time commitment of participating groups. Educators who participate will be able to earn an Educational Innovator: Digital Badge Edition themselves and attend an online training event on designing digital badges for their own programs.

When 4 or more educators from the same building participate in the study, there will be an option to train up the participants plus an equal number of guest teachers on-site, within 100 miles of Eastern Michigan University. (Please inquire about arrangements for distances greater than 100 miles).

If you would like the program(s) or classroom(s) you oversee to be included in the digital badging program, or if you have any questions about the study, please email or contact me, Angela Elkordy, at aelkordy@emich.edu.  For more information, please visit the project web site: http://goo.gl/5LxEN

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Angela Elkordy