A special program is giving students a head start on learning opportunities for careers, as kids earn social media digital badges for career skills. Up to 3,000 kids will benefit from summertime opportunities in a pilot program sponsored by twenty education groups.
One benefit for students is that they can earn “digital badges” for sharing on social media. The badges are proof to potential employers or college recruiters of skills and experiences. They show skills and competence, and also are solid additions to a professional social media profile. Students are learning how to position themselves for future employment.
“We know that learning doesn’t stop at 3 o’clock,” Long said. “Because kids are learning everywhere all the time, badges become a great way to harness that learning through different assets in the community.” said Cathy Lewis Long, executive director for Garfield-based Sprout Fund, which is helping support the project In the Pittsburgh area.along with 20 0ther co9mmunity groups.
The project started in February when city Chief Education & Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer Curtiss Porter attended a national badge summit with Sprout leaders in Silicon Valley.
Organizations in Dallas, Columbus, Ohio, Washington and Los Angeles adopted similar programs this year, following examples set by Chicago in 2013. Spearheaded through mayoral support, 125 organizations issued badges to more than 200,000 Chicago kids.
Critics argue community organizations can be too free-wheeling with badges by credentialing experiences that wouldn’t traditionally warrant special commendation.
“There is a wide range and a lot of freedom with it, but at the same time you need to be able to define these real-world skills and share them if you want to create meaningful pathways for kids to move beyond small skills and into a thoughtful career path,” said Nina Barbuto, founder and director at Assemble in Garfield, an arts and technology group.