Friday, June 27, 2014

Central Valley Afterschool Programs Earn Digital Awards for Quality

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
The LIAS project/Temescal Associates joined with Public Profit in forming a Fresno Work Group to develop a digital badge project with local OST leaders. They included Fresno County Office of Education, the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation, California Teaching Fellows Foundation, and Johannes Troost from the After School Division at CDE. In this pilot project, we decided to invite a group of middle school and high school afterschool programs to apply for program badges signifying exemplar practice in one or more of the LIAS learning principles.

Six programs applied after attending an orientation to the LIAS learning principles and a workshop which provided an overview of the digital badging project. After completing the application, which included a listing of the learning goals and evidence of learning for each of their clubs, they hosted a site observation by a committee that included at least one youth from their program. Youth who participated as observers received special leadership training from ARC and the Fresno County Office of Education. Awards were based on points earned from a review of their applications and program observations. Congratulations to the programs below which were deemed exemplar in one or more LIAS learning principles. 

  • Roosevelt High School Afterschool Program - earned the Active, Collaborative, Meaningful, and Supports Mastery digital badges
  • Tioga Middle School Afterschool Program - earned the Active, Meaningful, and Expands Horizons digital badges
  • Merced High School C.L.A.W.S. Program - earned the Collaborative and Supports Mastery digital badges
  • Madera High School Coyote V.O.I.C.E. After School Program - earned the Active, Collaborative, and Supports Mastery digital badges
  • Coalinga High School After School Program - earned the Active, Meaningful, and Supports Mastery digital badges
  • Martin Luther King Middle School After School Program - earned the Active and Supports Mastery digital badges

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Digital Badges - Taking Learning Seriously

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
The use and awarding of digital badges in afterschool and summer youth programs is a burgeoning trend that is rapidly moving across the country. This is important to the afterschool and summer program movement for the following reasons:
  • The development of digital badges requires that program leaders think through and explicitly state what learning will go on related to specific badges. This includes the required attendance, the skills and knowledge that will be acquired, and how this will be demonstrated in order to earn a badge. This specificity raises the bar for learning accountability. Also, with digital badges, this information of the learning that took place or  “meta information” is easily communicated to others. 
  • The awarding of digital badges defines the learning that goes on in programs, which is vital if afterschool and summer programs are to be recognized as important places of learning. These badges are important, visible evidence that afterschool and summer programs take learning seriously. 
  • The adult program staff members often acquire important knowledge and skills through professional development and years of experience. Youth acquire valuable skills and knowledge through their participation in specific afterschool and summer activities. Both deserve an artifact that documents their learning and—importantly—can be shared with peers, future employers, and those allowing admittance to higher education. 
To advance the use of digital badges, the LIAS project formed a partnership with Public Profit. We enlisted the participation of provider organizations in piloting digital badge systems. Organizations included CalSAC, California Teaching Fellows Foundation, Fresno County Office of Education, the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation, and the Youth Institute (Long Beach and replication sites). Badges will be awarded acknowledging exemplar programs, program staff that have completed certain trainings, and afterschool program youth who have completed “courses” and acquired new knowledge and skills.

We believe that digital badges, when used properly, offer great benefits to program providers and adult/youth recipients. We just finished a digital badge project to recognize older youth programs that demonstrate the LIAS principles. We will announce the digital badge earners in an upcoming blog post. 

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