Even teachers need a little acknowledgment for learning new skills, according to Laura Fleming, a school library media specialist at New Milford High School in Bergen County, NJ.
Through her site, Worlds of Learning, Fleming is offering teachers at her school and beyond the opportunity to earn digital badges—indicators of accomplishment that can be posted online—for mastering digital literacy in a number of areas, from QR codes to video editing.
Fleming says that her site, launched in October, provides a fun way for educators to motivate themselves and be rewarded for their efforts. “This is supposed to be informal learning,” says Fleming, who joined New Milford this year but has been a school librarian for a decade. “I really want to keep it that way. I want them to feel this is a safe place and at the same time be challenged.”
Fleming built the site for about $300 with open software, paying for a screencast program and hosting costs. She doesn’t yet know how many badges her site has granted. But teachers and other aspiring badge earners have accessed Worlds of Learning from far and wide, she says. One educator from California State University requested permission to adopt the site for their own use, which Fleming allowed.
To date, Fleming has laid out very specific skill sets for which teachers at her school can earn badges. They include becoming proficient in WeVideo, an online video editor, ThingLink, a graphics generator, and AnswerGarden, a polling tool, along with Wordle, a word cloud program, and QR Code Generator. Fleming now adds a new badge “each week or so,” she says, and she thinks carefully about what skills they will cover. She wants to be sure that the apps she recommends teachers learn will also be useful to students.