My latest (The Forward): ‘Can Digital Badges Save Hebrew School?’

The Forward’s new special education section is out, which means my new article on the growing use of digital badges in Jewish education is out. The first I heard of digital badges was when my editor contacted me about this story — but, once I got started, I found the whole thing fascinating. Here’s what I learned (or, at least, the beginning of it):

While purveyors of childhood Jewish education as a whole struggle with enrollment and relevance, a small number have become pioneering practitioners of “digital badging,” a new pedagogical model in which learners in a wide variety of learning environments earn digital badges that indicate their accomplishments, skills or knowledge.

With help from associations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and, in the Jewish arena, the Covenant Foundation, digital badges are booming. Open Badges, an open-source standard created by Mozilla, allows badges earned in one venue to be collected in a “digital backpack” and displayed in different places online, such as on one’s Facebook or LinkedIn profile.

“There are now international conferences looking at how to use badging in education, but Jewish education has serendipitously become a real leader in this field,” said Sam Abramovich, a professor of education informatics at Buffalo University. “It’s amazing how Jewish education has managed to grab hold of something that clearly has an enormously transformational pedagogical potential.”

Read the rest of it over here.

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