Badge Program Tops New Funding

The Center for Educational Technologies is fully funded through private organizations and taxpayer-supported agencies. To continue to deliver innovative educational research, curriculum design, and adult education materials means striving to ensure we have the funding to continue our work. In 2012 we were able to land some new work and also receive additional funding for projects we have been working on.

Currently, we receive substantial funding from these agencies and foundations: NASA, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Mine Safety Health Administration, Benedum Foundation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, West Virginia Department of Education, and the MacArthur Foundation. In addition, NASA also continued funding for the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future program, including the NASATalk web collaborative and the close of the MoonWorld simulation in the Second Life and Open Sims virtual worlds.

New funding included winning a $150,000 competitive grant from software developer Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation for designing a program in which students earn digital "badges" for their online studies in robotics via NASA. The center is partnering with Project Whitecard, a software developer from Winnipeg, on Robotics and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Badges Using NASA Content, one of 30 projects chosen from a pool of 91 finalists in the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition. The center and Project Whitecard will split the one-year grant.

Going Outside Formal Venues
Badges are a way to capture people's accomplishments outside of more formal venues such as classrooms, said Dr. Meri Cummings, science resource teacher and lab manager. She is working with Project Whitecard in creating badging opportunities using existing robotics and other exemplary STEM resources from NASA.

"Badges are a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to show skills they have developed," Cummings said. "Traditional measures of achievement, such as high school diplomas, GEDs, and college degrees, don't always do a good job of capturing all the knowledge and skills people have. When students take part in a badging exercise online, they then earn a certification, or badge, that they can add to their resume and carry with them the rest of their lives. It's a formal acknowledgment of expertise or knowledge. And students are linked to additional activities that will further their goals."
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