The Quebec School Librarians Network (QSLiN) has adapted the CLA school library standards guide, Leading Learning, into a digital badge professional development program. This digital badge program is an alternative form of professional development for all library personnel to help them with the transition of traditional school libraries into school library learning commons; but first, you may wonder why digital badging and what is digital badging anyway?
Digital badges themselves are a way to display one’s accomplishments online and have become more pervasive, from university courses to travel reviews such as on Tripadvisor. They offer a unique way to learn or improve new skills or competencies often in an interactive and dynamic way.
Why use digital badging for professional development?
- They offer self-paced professional development and are usually free of charge
- Digital badging programs are engaging because they use gamification to motivate the learner
- They allow for innovation and avant-garde ideas through professional development
- Participating in a digital badging program can serve as a model for lifelong learning to other school personnel
- They are a good way to display one’s accomplishments and participation in professional development
- A digital badging program can provide opportunities for community interaction but privacy is ensured as the participant can use a pseudonym if he/she prefers.
- Participants receive credentials that can be displayed or shared
The QSLiN digital badges emulate the notions presented in the Leading Learning guide that reflect the stages of evolving a traditional library into a library learning commons: exploration, emerging, evolving, established and leading. All the bronze level badges (the first level of badges) act as an introduction and exploration of the concepts to be learned. These concepts are presented in a variety of dynamic ways using videos, Prezis, articles, and forms.
Badges can be earned in the following categories that correspond to the ones in the Leading Learning Publication:
- Facilitating collaborative engagement to cultivate and empower a community of learners
- Advancing the learning community to achieve school goals
- Cultivating effective instructional design to co-plan, teach and assess learning
- Fostering literacies to improve life-long learners
- Designing learning environments to support participatory learning
Bronze level badges are the basic badges. They are quick to earn as the learner simply watches short videos, or reads a short article or two, and then takes a 5-question quiz. Then the learner achieves a sub-badge. Once learners achieve all the sub-badges within a given category, they receive a badge for that particular area. For example, if I achieve all the sub-badges for Facilitating Collaborative Engagement, I will get the bronze badge for that area.
Silver level badges are where the action really starts to happen! It is a two step process. First, participants explore the various resources that are contained in a Prezi, usually films. Then, they are guided through the process of filling out a plan of action for that particular area in a Google Form. This allows library personnel to really look ahead at how they can put into practice all the theories and ideas that they have encountered in the course of doing both the bronze and silver badges. A participant would then submit this plan of action, and once approved, would earn the silver badge for that category.
The Gold level badge is the last step. This is where the participant carries out the plan of action and then provides some form of evidence that can be submitted in a variety of ways: a film, podcast, slide presentation, report, etc. When this is approved, the learner earns the Gold badge. It would probably take about a year for a participant to earn that level of badge. What is useful about this kind of submission is that the film or slide presentation, etc. could be reused in a variety of ways within the participant’s own education community to document the achievements of the library learning commons.
These badges are not intended to replace the CLA publication but to be an aid to school library personnel as they work toward moving their libraries toward the library learning commons model. The goal is to give library personnel an accessible and dynamic way to learn,grow and be excited about the work that they do in supporting students’ learning.
Below you will find a tour of the QSLiN digital badges based on the CLA Standards.