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Digital Badging Grants Offered to 'Push Envelope' on Micro-Credentials

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A nonprofit that brings together vendors, funders and schools to fill gaps in education has launched a search for four teams that will help improve digital badging. The Education Design Lab announced the application process a year after releasing the first version of its "21st Century Skills Badges" as an open toolkit. Now, the organization wants expert assistance to improve the next version of that toolkit and "push the envelope" on the use of micro-credentials.

Grantees, or "Badging Fellows," are expected to lead institutional or community teams in "recommending enhancements" to digital badges and "testing those ideas" in actual education programs. Each team will receive $25,000 for the work. The deadline for proposals is Aug. 12, 2019.

The process will work like this: EDL will choose the fellows in early September. Those individuals will convene in Chicago for training during the Educause Annual Conference and receive additional support throughout the year. The kinds of enhancements EDL is hoping will come out of the activities could take one or more forms:

  • Scaling the earning of badges online at a low cost;
  • Using "authentic, 'tech-enabled' simulations" to let learners practice their badging skills to make them more valuable to employers; or
  • Enhancing badging-related curricula, assessments and online collaborations.

Or it may be something completely different, "that will surprise and excite us," the nonprofit stated.

One stipulation, however, is that cohorts used for the badge enhancement pilots must be made up of at least 50 percent "historically underrepresented learners or workers." Also, the work must be able to award at least 200 badges during the grant period and build the capacity to influence a "large student/employee population over a two- to three-year period."

An information packet on the RFP is available with registration through the EDL website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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