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Use Badges To Give Students Control of Their Learning

By Team ISTE
June 7, 2016
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Empowering students to take control of their learning is easier said than done simply because many students would rather focus on getting the answers they need to score well on a test than build the skills they need to succeed in life.

But you can turn that around using a well-developed badging system that will inspire students to enjoy the learning process, which will help them build skills and ultimately get those answers for their tests too.

Brad Flickinger, author of Reward Learning with Badges: Spark Student Achievement, believes that students don’t want to be spoon-fed answers. They want to be empowered learners, and they want their learning experience to be rewarding.

A good badging system that allows students to choose the skills they want to acquire and work toward proficiency engages them in their learning. Seeing kids embark on this process is like watching a lava lamp, Flickinger says. It takes a while for the lamp to warm up, but when it does, the lava floats up and down and expands and is beautiful to watch.

Here are four ways you can implement badging in your classroom.

1. Art class. Rather than have students all draw identical trees, encourage them to acquire basic drawing skills, like light and shadow or the perception of space, and let them earn badges by demonstrating their abilities for each specific skill mastered.

2. Technology class. Allow students to earn badges for demonstrating their use of software and apps at graduated levels of complexity. For example, beginners can use Photoshop to demonstrate use of basic tools like cropper, paintbrush and eye dropper. Advanced users can demonstrate their use of altering light to depict a specific mood. 

3. Projects. Let students use technology to solve design-related problems, like finding ways to grow more crops in smaller spaces. Throughout the design process, students earn badges as they design, build prototypes and implement their ideas.  

4. Digital citizenship. Students operate in an increasingly digital world, so it is important for them to learn how to be good digital citizens. This includes learning how to share their creative works and ideas on social media, speak to a global audience, stay safe online and protect their digital rights. Badges can reward each step along the way to becoming a savvy digital citizen.

Students love games and they love the street cred of earning badges. Implement them in your classroom to nurture a love of learning and build the skills students need to thrive..

Get ideas for using badges to inspire and reward students in your classroom or school in Flickinger’s book Reward Learning with Badges: Spark Student Achievement.