Digital Badges | News

Penn State To Create PD Badge System for Educators

Penn State University has landed a $500,000 subcontract to build a digital badge system for teachers receiving professional development in the use of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content from NASA.

The subcontract was awarded by Texas State University, which received a larger grant from the space agency to provide the professional development.

"We're very excited to help Texas State University provide personalized professional development for educators in this country," said Kyle Peck, professor of education and co-director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL), in a prepared statment. "Penn State has been working with digital badges for about a year and a half now, so we knew we could provide value to this project."

Peck and others, along with Penn State's Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT), have already been working "to construct a badge platform to support this effort and received seed funding in the 1st round of COIL Research Initiation Grant program in 2012," according to information on COIL's site.

A prototype of the system has already been built and TLT will create the infrastructure within the university to move the current content onto and will then "support the creation, review and distribution of new badges," according to information released by the school.

The system will allow teachers to choose from among skills and badges they're interested in, such as bringing engineering into school curriculum or teaching students about the solar system, according to a news release.

Teachers will also be able to choose between stamps or badges. Stamps look like passport stamps, while badges, which require more work, look like embroidered badges. Both require educators to complete certain tasks and the work must be reviewed before either is issued. Clicking on a stamp or a badge will take the user to a Web page listing the credential's requirements. Teachers will also be able to print out hardcopies of certificates or "compile reports to show which badges they've earned, hours it took to complete, feedback and other useful information," according to Peck.

Peck said he hopes the system will be available to as many as 250,000 teachers across the United States.

"Not only will we be helping people learn, but we'll be promoting digital badges, as well," said Peck, in a prepared statement. "Promoting the concept of digital badges as a new form of educational credential in its early stages will help Penn State become recognized as a leader in digital badges."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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