Badges: Working Hard for Professional Development (Winter 2014)

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YALSA's communications marketing outreach badgeIn the winter issue of YALS members and subscribers will have the chance to read about badges as a form of demonstrating knowledge and skills. As the author of the article, Sheryl Grant, states, “Badges for learning are digital
credentials that recognize a person’s skills and achievements” I think that this is something that people often miss when talking about badges and learning. The badge is the “proof” of learning it’s not the learning. What do I mean by that? Well, to earn a badge requires work of some kind, whether that work is comprised of reading a series of books or completing a series of lessons. When it comes to professional development badges aren’t just given out willy nilly. They take work to earn

As readers probably know, YALSA has been working on a badging project for just over a year and those working on the initiative have learned a lot about what it takes to build a successful badging system. This includes gaining understanding of what badge earners will have to complete in order to successfully earn a badge. In the next week or so YALSA is soft launching some of its badges to a group of fearless testers who have volunteered to try out what the association developed. These testers will discover that to complete the different badges they will have to go out into the community, talk to teens, talk to community members, talk to colleagues and staff. They will have to develop “artifacts” that demonstrate what they learned by going into the community and actively learning. These artifacts will range from presentations to Twitter accounts and posts. And, actually, earning a badge could take a few weeks, it’s not just an hour or two and you are done. (Learning takes time, we all know that.)

YALSA wants to build a community for badge earners to join in order to gain support in the badge earning process. That’s why the association is going to ask library staff working with teens to help evaluate artifacts submitted. The team working on the badges developed a set of rubrics for that evaluation and that means that one can’t simply say, “this is awful” or “this is awesome” without taking into account the requirements of the rubric for a particular badge. We hope that leaders in the world of teen library services will act as mentors to those earning badges and provide feedback on artifacts and encouragement in the badge earning process.

The testing period gives YALSA the chance to find out how the badge earning system works, tweaks that need to be made, and how to make sure that the badge process is effective for the entire community of those working with teens in libraries. Don’t miss the article in the winter YALS on badging and stay tuned for more on the YALSA badging project. You can read more about the project on the YALSAblog and in this School Library Journal article.

If you are a YALSA member YALS is a perk of your membership dues. If not a member learn how to join, or learn how to subscribe.

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