Friday, April 1, 2016

AERA and Open Digital Badges

by James Willis

The 2016 conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) will happen next week (April 8 - April 12) in Washington, D.C. There are some events related to open digital badges, so I'll discuss them briefly along with links to additional information. There is also an interesting disparity between the growing embrace of badges and the relatively little coverage at AERA.

Open digital badges are emerging in numerous educational programs and contexts. Badges provide the capability to make specific claims to learning and then provide evidence to substantiate those claims. Many communities are recognizing the current and future potential of badges; just recently, the American Council on Education (ACE) released a report, "Quality Dimensions for Connected Credentials," which features open digital badges prominently. Organizations like the Lumina Foundation, IMS Global, and LRNG are leading conversations about how badges support changing credentialing systems.

In an emerging body of scholarly literature, researchers study badges in a variety of qualitative and quantitative papers. The on-going work of the Badge Alliance continues to support the growing community, and groups like our own Open Badges in Higher Education help individuals, schools, groups, and organizations build high-quality badges.

This is all to say that despite the growing interest in and adoption of badges, there is a disparity in the number of sessions available about badges at the national AERA conference. A search for "badges" in the online session finder yields five results. This includes one major structured poster session, "Democratizing Learning through Digital Badges: Theoretical and Analytical Frameworks to Advance Design and Research," which will occur Saturday, April 9th from 12:25-1:55pm in the Convention Center, Level One, Room 101. Other sessions feature badges, like "The Role of Social Media and Technology in Education," on Monday, April 11th from 11:45am - 1:15pm in the Convention Center, Level One, Room 141 and "Learning with Static and Dynamic Visualizations," on Monday, April 11th from 11:45am - 1:15pm in the Convention Center, Level One, Room 144B.

Hopefully, in coming years, there will be additional interest and coverage of the growing badges movement at the AERA national conference.

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