Learning, whether formal or informal, is a lifelong experience that goes on anytime and anywhere throughout the life of an individual. Researches indicate that there is increasing number of students learning life skills. However, the current system of capturing the skills that a person has acquired through the process of learning does not give a clear picture of the knowledge that one has acquired. For instance, it is not possible to capture the curricula and other non-classroom activities that a student engages in outside a formal learning environment. The use of technology in education is thus a promising venture to help educators capture the soft skills of their students that are not taught in class but which they acquire in their individual studies. This paper discusses the use of digital badges by educators in bridging learning experiences that occur in and out of school and how digital badges will shape education in the future.
Most of learning experiences in the formal sector are presented on a certificate which students do use while seeking for employment after school. This certification does not reflect the skills and knowledge that the student may acquire out of class or after schooling and thus fail to give a true picture of the student. Furthermore, learning is a continuous experience that can occur even away from the formal educational setting in pursuit of personal interest or intellectual curiosity. However, such knowledge and other soft skills are not captured in the formal papers of the students. Hence, it is necessary to analyze the need of using digital badges that capture the skills of the student that are acquired outside class.
Impact of Digital Badges on Education
Digital badges are ideal technological innovations that will help in tracking and capturing the learning experiences of students outside formal educational settings. In this way, a database of experiences and skills of a student can be placed in a central place for employers and other interested groups to view. Additionally, Ash (2012) notes that digital badges will effectively contribute to the capturing of fragmented learning experiences not reflected in the certifications. For instance, it will be possible for educators to track the activities of their students on the Internet and thus assess the areas that interest them.
Through digital badges, admission officers and employers will be able to assess the learning process of their prospective student or employees during the transition period. As indicated byAsh (2012), most people acquire many soft skills during the transition period like in the engagement of social activities where they get to learn and provide leadership. Digital badges can capture such skills by recording. The recorded information is then availed to the interested persons during admissions or employment. This will enhance the visibility of the skills of students to interested groups rather than the usual method of providing formal papers that most of the times do not reflect the true capability of a student.
The technology will also enhance the level of seriousness by the students towards the curricula activities since they are aware that whatever they are engaged in will be reflected in their badges (Ash, 2012). This is important because it will make many students use their personal time properly.
How Digital Badges will Shape Education in Future
Modern education depends on the assessment of students in class through a formal system of examinations and tests. Therefore, it does not pay regard to the personal interest and intelligent curiosity of the student. For instance, in the current form of education, a student may be poor in arithmetic or even grammar but he/she is good at other activities like leadership, sports, or a more remote area of specialization though not in the formal educational setting. Digital badges will thus change the overall assessment of students by including the more personal areas that a student may be interested in. The technology will also widen the number of subjects or activities assessed for students and thus increase the level of creativity and competition between them.
Another aspect of digital badges in enhancing education will be the increase in the number of areas of interest in which students participate through increased learning pathways. Since digital badges will provide a lifelong record of the activities that students engage in during their learning process, students are likely to pursue their area of interest to the end. Thus, they feel of being in control of their learning process.
Technology has provided more ways of teaching and learning to educators and students. The use of computers and the Internet has eased the way in which students can access information. It has also led to the acknowledgement that learning does not only take place in the formal setting or end after a student completes their schooling. This has pointed to the need for continual recording of the skills and knowledge that a student acquires outside the educational setting. The use of digital badges will thus provide a solution to this problem.