Digital badges promote information literacy skills in distance learning environments

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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Digital badges are a way for Penn State students to recognize skills and knowledge gained through self-paced achievement. In today’s virtual and socially distant learning environments, these micro-accreditations, including a series of badges offered through Penn State University Libraries – Provide a concrete way for students to prove their learning to instructors and potential employers.

Through the University Libraries Digital Badges Program, instructors can partner with libraries to offer badges on 10 different Information Literacy topics that their students can earn.

“We are working with faculty to assign our badges to their courses and encourage their students to participate,” said Emily Rimland, Information Literacy Librarian and Library Learning Technologies Coordinator, who runs the digital badge program. . “Instructors see value in helping students understand their academic research skills and receive proof of their knowledge. “

Since 2013, when the digital badge program was implemented, libraries have issued more than 9,200 badges in 152 course sections. Professors work with their students to help them complete the requirements, which are then assessed by one of 16 librarians from four campuses who serve as assessors.

“Now that many courses are delivered remotely, this is a great option for faculty to add in-depth information literacy skills to lessons in a way that can be done virtually,” Rimland said.

For those who remember earning badges as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, digital badges provide micro-certification for discrete skills in the same way. Each badge has three to six steps required for completion, which serve to expand students’ understanding of a topic in three ways: (1) break down large, intimidating concepts into small, practical tasks; (2) combine elements of games to tap into learner motivation; and (3) translate recognizable elements of face-to-face learning into an online environment.

Students complete most of the required steps by writing written responses to questions about the content they have learned. The badge is issued after a librarian has assessed the student’s responses to verify that they understand the topic. Participants can then post the badges on personal websites, online resumes, and social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, to share their accomplishments.

“Presenting these skills in a non-traditional way gives badge holders another topic to discuss in job interviews,” Rimland said. “Many companies and organizations place great importance on digital badge programs for the professional development and lifelong learning of employees. “

Badges cover a variety of skills that support the academic success of all students, such as citations, academic integrity, and web credibility assessment.

“Badges provide learning opportunities that help students improve their skills and give them confidence,” Rimland concluded. “They also introduce a new way of teaching into the curriculum, benefiting both faculty and librarians. “

Professors wishing more information on integrating university library digital literacy badges into their course content should contact Rimland at [email protected]

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