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Tina Dong

In general, badges can help teachers grow their craft and become proud of their achievements. Specific to language education, I see potential for badges to be a reflection of a teacher’s language proficiency, their ability to differentiate instruction or to integrate 21st century skills and their knowledge of how to embed culture into instruction. In addition to teachers having an innovative way to visually display such attainments, it would help me determine which teachers can lead professional development workshops in certain areas.

Our Superintendent recently spearheaded an initiative for administrators and teachers in the district to be aware of our strengths and to play to these strengths. She is motivating us to focus on what is strong rather than what is wrong. I see a strong connection between our Superintendent’s initiative and digital badges because, in essence, badges allow professionals to name and claim their strengths.

Tina Dong is World Languages Coordinator at Austin Independent School District.

Toni Theisen

I earned my first professional development badge by participating in the Social Media Workshop 2013, an online event presented by LARC (Language Acquisition Resource Center, San Diego State University). I signed up for my Mozilla Backpack (for storing badge information), and have displayed my badge on my wikispace: tonitheisen.wikispaces.com.

I want ACTFL members to learn about the badge concept and the potential of recognizing their skills and expertise at a more detailed level. This is why we  partnered with COERLL to present the first ever ACTFL badge. ACTFL can lead the way in bringing the ideas of using badges to recognize many possibilities of professional teaching and learning through multiple paths of credentialing. I would love to see the development of a robust ecosystem of badges that meets the needs of our members in the 21st century.

Toni  Theisen is a French Teacher at Loveland High School French Teacher and Former ACTFL President.

Evan Rubin

 I have very high expectations for badges in foreign languages. I envision a community of practice in which participants will be proud to share their badges online, and where a sense of fun and friendly competition will motivate language professionals to create their own online personal learning networks (PLNs). By the same token, I hope badges are taken seriously and honored by employers, school administrators and professional language organizations. Achieving this outcome will take increased effort from badge issuers to ensure the badges represent current language teaching skills and that the workshops are of the highest professional quality.

In the long-term, badges for language educators could become an alternative credentialing system that is shared across state lines. However, my immediate aim is to establish badges as a credible, evidence-based, transparent form of documenting and displaying continuing education and professional development efforts by current and prospective K-16 teachers. Once this goal is achieved, the inherent value of badges becomes limitless.

Evan Rubin is Director of Instructional Technology at the Language Acquisition Resource Center (LARC).

Abby Dings

There’s a great deal of potential with digital badges for language education. The gamification aspect appeals to many language learners, particularly the younger generation and provides a type of motivation not present in many online language-learning sites. At the same time, the badge structure provides a learning map for reaching higher levels. Badges also encourage learners to explore their personal interests. Educators can create various badge options that allow students to select which aspects of the target culture they’d like to explore in greater depth and to make comparisons and connections across cultures. Cultural badges might include field trips or other out-of-school experiences.

Abby Dings is Associate Professor of Spanish and Coordinator of the Spanish Language Program at Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX.