Why Badges? Because people LOVE a reward for success! Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H figured this out decades ago, and today many organizations are learning the lesson.
The ESSDACK Badge Platform is designed to connect learners with learning experiences which are meaningful and engaging for students, while at the same time lead to the learning necessary to prepare the student for their chosen education and career paths. In addition, it is intended to help teachers identify the "traditional courses" where the learning fits, allowing schools to create transcripts that meet the needs of postsecondary institutions. These learning experiences are designed so that any individual or small group of students in any school can have the learning experiences they desire.
As Kansans redesign our schools we are developing this platform to meet the Redesign Principles necessary to help each student achieve their desired goals. The following chart identifies the Redesign Principles driving the new system in Kansas.
We believe that badges as learning experiences meet the vast majority of redesign principles most of the time. We hope that educators across the State, nation, and the world will join us in creating learning experiences that can be delivered to any student, anywhere, and at any time and reward students for their work with badges.
Using Badges On The Platform
Using the badges on the ESSDACK Badge Platform is not a silver bullet! In our pilot schools, not every student engaged authentically in the badges they worked on. However, over time even the least engaged students increased their engagement as they became more comfortable using the badges. We also noticed that students are not accustomed to being self-directed in their learning. It takes time for them to develop that skill.
When using the badges on the ESSDACK Badge Platform students perform best when given choice as to which badges they work on. Unfortunately, that isn't always possible. In our experience, the more you allow the students to have a choice in the badges they work on the more likely they are to engage more in the badges they don't get to choose.
A key to successfully using badges as the curriculum is having each student connect with an "expert" on the topic of the badge. Student rigor increases dramatically when they connect with an adult who is interested as they are in the badge topic. These experts can be used to validate student learning when the facilitating teacher does not feel adequate in evaluating the student's skills, knowledge and/or behaviors learned in the badge.
Experts can be other teachers in your school, in your district, community members, teachers or community members in other schools. As the ESSDACK Badge Platform evolves we will be adding lists of "experts" who can be contacted to work with students.