After three full days of workshops and sessions, panel discussions and keynote speakers, ISTE 2012 has officially come to a close. And although it was difficult to leave ridiculously beautiful San Diego behind, I think I have enough new connections with educators, story ideas, and emerging ed-tech trends to last me at least another year.
On the last day of the conference (Wednesday), I sat in on a session about digital badges, lead by An-Me Chung, from the MacArthur Foundation. She was joined by Carla Casilli, the open badges project lead for the Mozilla Foundation; Marc Lesser, the education director of MOUSE; Al Byers, the assistant executive director of e-learning and government partnerships at the National Science Teachers Association; and Richard Culatta, the deputy director of the office of education technology from the U.S. Department of Education.
Digital badges are electronic images encoded with data which could be earned for a variety of skills and knowledge acquired in-school and out-of-school. The badges could follow students throughout their lifetimes, being displayed on websites and blogs, and illustrating students' knowledge to future employers or college application officers.
"We need learners to have a way to capture what they're doing outside the classroom," said Culatta, from the department of education, and badges could help pave a way to make that happen. But moving forward, educators should be very careful about making sure that those badges correspond to meaningful skills and competencies, he emphasized.
A main tenant of the digital badges movement is keeping the person earning the badges at the center of badge management, said Casilli, from Mozilla, which has developed an open badge infrastructure, or OBI, to help categorize and host digital badges. "The earner is at the center of the ecosystem," she said. "They get to decide where they earn the badges and where they display them."
Keeping the student at the center of learning (and earning, in this case) was a consistent theme I heard over and over at this year's conference. Personalizing learning for each student, encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning, and putting the power of technology directly into the hands of students were topics that came up in almost every session I attended. What were some of the main takeaways you took from the conference?
For more commentary about the business and marketplace side of things at ISTE, please visit my colleague Jason Tomassini's blog. It was his first time at ISTE (and the first time that we got to meet face-to-face!) so he was able to bring a set of fresh eyes to the entire event.
And in housekeeping news, it will likely be quiet on the blog for the next week or so, as both Ian and I are taking a few days off for some much needed R&R.