In the classroom, teachers rely on test scores to measure students’ skills and achievements. But how can students receive recognition for skills and experiences gained outside of the classroom?

Students attending after school programs develop skills, gain knowledge and cultivate interests through engaging learning experiences. Program leaders use digital badges to document students’ achievements in the after school space. Digital badges are online records of accomplishments, skills, qualities or interests that can be earned in any learning setting. They provide a comprehensive view of the student that goes beyond the classroom and grades.

In a recent article in Learning in Afterschool and Summer, Sam Piha discusses why digital badges are important:

  • Learning accountability. When issuing badges, program leaders must be specific about the ways in which students can earn each badge.
  • Extrinsic motivation. Once students have earned a badge, they can share their achievements with family, friends and even higher learning institutions.
  • Program Validation. Digital badges help define the learning that takes place in programs, providing visible evidence that after school and summer learning programs take learning seriously.

Digital badges are great tools for encouraging innovative, student-centered learning after school. To see how other programs are incorporating digital badges, check out this article from Youth Today.