Digging Into Digital Badges With DIY.org

An interview with DIY’s Chalon Bridges


I had a chance to do a Hangout on Air this week with Chalon Bridges, DIY.org’s Director of Learning and Partnerships. She shared some great insights and provided a glimpse into where they are heading.

For those who don’t know DIY.org, you’ll want to stop reading right now and head over to one of the coolest OERs (Open Educational Resource) around. Basically, DIY (“Do It Yourself”) is a place for young makers to find project challenges, share their creations with the world and build a portfolio of their awesomeness in the process, all while earning Digital Badges.

Chalon had some really great shares. I was most inspired by her proclamation that they are out to “create a world where kids are fearless to learn and fearless to create.” Like. +1. High five.

On a more concrete level, we discussed one interesting phenomenon they are witnessing. Students who are earning badges are being viewed by their peers as experts within the community and others are organically gravitating toward them for help and advice in meeting their own challenges. Further, she said that users with the largest following are not the self-promoter set so much as those who are most helpful and interactive. As educators in the K-12 space build our own Digital Badge systems, I think we are wise to remember this powerful point and intentionally use it whenever possible.

We also discussed how DIY is credentialing young people for responding to questions without a predefined right answer. Users in their community don’t earn badges by correctly answering multiple choice questions that hint at their knowledge. Rather, they determine a pathway from multiple experiential options and upload evidence (pictures, videos) of their accomplishments. These accomplishments align with skills.

As we consider potential audiences for our learners’ Digital Badges, I anticipate that this concept of credentialing skills is where we will gain a lot of traction. Are colleges and employers more interested in what learners know or what they can do? In an age in which knowledge is just a Google search away, there’s a strong case to made for the latter.

To be sure, assessing skills is a heavier lift than assessing knowledge. It is encouraging to know there are those among us who are audacious enough to believe that it can be done and lead the way in showing us how it might be possible.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Chalon. You can watch it here on the blog or click here to head over to YouTube.