Digital Badging in Libraries Transforms Learning

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One of the ways Libraries Transform is by innovating along larger societal trends or the shifting needs and interests of patrons. These trends and their impact on libraries are tracked by ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries. This is the first in a series of articles that will highlight some of those trends and how libraries have incorporated them into the services they provide to their communities.

Digital badging takes an old concept (think Scouting badges) and re-configures it for the digital age. Badging provides a way to recognize formal and informal learning that happens across educational settings. Given the range of learning that libraries facilitate, it should come as no surprise that academic, school, and public libraries are experimenting and innovating with badging.

The University of Michigan Library’s campus-wide mBlem program allows departments or programs to establish learning objectives, then identify criteria and mechanisms to assess learning. mBlem creates a connected community of learners and allows participants to showcase their learning in digital portfolios, resumes or via social media.

The library at Penn State University has created a badging program specifically to recognize mastery of information literacy concepts. Using the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education and feedback from employers, Penn State libraries created a tiered program to scaffold skills that will help students succeed in today’s workplace. Badging, or micro-credentialing, is also available to instructors who wish to supplement in-class learning and traditional assignments.

Librarian Laura Fleming at New Milford High School is setting the standard for badging as a professional development tool with Worlds of Learning, a program offering online tutorials in technology integration that are aligned with state learning standards. Teachers and school staff can select their own areas of focus and set their own pace.

Finally, who says summer reading is just for kids? This summer, Loveland Public Library offers “Move, Learn, Discover,” a program that awards digital badges to learners of all ages. “Move, Learn, Discover” encourages families to participate together in a summer of learning.

Is your library innovating with digital badging? Share your story with the Center for the Future of Libraries by emailing futureoflibraries@ala.org.

Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the Libraries Transform website.

Visit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries.

The Center for the Future of Libraries works to identify trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve; promote futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future; and build connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues. Learn more at www.ala.org/libraryofthefuture.

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