Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Micro-Credentials in Middle School Makerspaces #EdChat

One of the things I wanted to explore for the Makerspace I'm putting together in the Middle School at University Liggett School is a way to recognize the skills the students pick up through their work. I believe that a Makerspace should be a place where students can explore anything they want. This makes a putting together a system to recognize their achievements tough because the possibilities are endless when it comes to what would need to be recognized. I have been interested in micro-credentialing for a little while, but I could not find a way to make it work in my Literature classes. A Makerspace, on the other hand, is the perfect spot to pilot a badging system.

I set out with the goal to create badges that students can earn for demonstrating various skills in different areas. It has been a very time intensive process to find the different skills that students are interested in and then create a scaffolded system that recognizes their acquired skills and awards them a badge. It has been hard work, but it has been worth it. The soft rollout of the badging system has been amazing! It has been too good to be honest. Students are earning badges left and right and I'm trying to keep up with the student demand for entry level badges to various skills.

I started out with basic skills in physical computing with Raspberry Pi (LED, Buzzer, Button, Motion Sensor,  and Light Sensor), design and building in Minecraft, and 3D design and printing. I thought this would be a good starter spot for me and would give me time to create other badges. It is now near the end of October and I need to ramp up the badge production. I have littleBits on deck and I will be adding MakeyMakey to the mix. I have more things I can add to the Raspberry Pi set so students can earn a level 2 Pi badge and I'm open to students suggesting badges in areas where they are experts.

I made digital copies of each badge I have offered using this free website, openbadges.me. From there, I have printed them on sticker paper and have cut out the stickers and given them to students who have earned them. Here is a picture of a student proudly displaying their badges on their laptop.


A post shared by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on

These are the stickers I've created so far and I keep a record of the digital badges. I am still looking for a good portfolio system to deliver and store the digital badges. We use SeeSaw in the Middle School, so that might be what I use, but I'm still looking at other options.

I think if we want to see change in our education system and move away from traditional grading practices, we need to start to look at areas where it is possible to pilot new ideas and I think a Makerspace is the perfect spot to explore micro-credentialing for students.

If you have explored using badges for recognizing student achievement, please share your story. I'd love to see how others are doing this.