Monday, 30 September 2013

Museums as Employers and Digital Badges

The Museum as a Learning Provider

I have been researching how digital badges can be used in museums for the Open Badges MOOC that I have been taking part in. Much of what I have found has been focussed on learners who visit museums for either formal or informal learning experiences. The results of my findings will be entered in a later blog. However, in this blog I wanted to concentrate on awarding digital badges to those employed in the museums world.

Digital Badges for Museum Training

At the moment museums are only just dipping their toes into the whole world of digital badges and when it comes to providing (or acknowledging) badges for their staff then I can find only three organisations that have taken some steps in this direction.

Museums and Mobile Learning

The Museums and Mobile conferences explore how mobile devices can be used within museum environments to develop learning amongst museum visitors. During the March 2013 online conference 

Part of the announcement for the March 2013 online conference was that participants were able to earn digital badges. The badges on offer were divided into two parts. These were for those who participated in the conference and one for those who delivered a presentation.

For participants the badges were:

This badge was awarded for taking part in the conference

This badge was awarded for those who attended the conference and posted at least ten tweets with the #museumsmobile hashtag

For Presenters the badge was:

This badge was awarded for those who delivered a session during the conference

Interestingly, the next online conference (which is happening on October 15th)  does not feature digital badges. 

Museums & Mobile

Museum Computer Network

In 2011 the Museum Computer Network launched a series of surveys and focus groups to see what their members wanted from the organisation. There was a lot of interest in training and skills development through their website. The result are the MCN Pro Workshops. The workshops will focus on how technology can be used by museum professionals. 


Digital badges are to be offered for participating in the workshops. The badges for taking part in these workshops are:

To earn these badges, individuals have to attend and participate in a workshop. These is a different badge for each workshop.

This badge is awarded to those who present and deliver a workshop

This badge is for effectively moderating a workshop

This badge is awarded to those who attend and participate in a workshop

This badge is for those who attended a workshop and posted at least ten tweets using the hashtag #MCNPro

This badge is awarded for those who share a project for evaluation during a workkshop

This badge acknowledges individuals who can show that they actively participated in a workshop

This badge is awarded to those who have organised a workshop

The Center for the Future of Museums

The Center for the Future of Museums is part of the American Alliance of Museums. It was set up to explore how museums can change to meet the changing needs of the industry and those who visit them.

Earlier this year the Center for the Future of Museums teamed up with Learning Times to create a pilot project which will explore how digital badges could be used to assist in the training of museum staff. They put out a call for volunteers to test this badging system by choosing and completing a number of learning assignments which may include to quote from the website:

» Reading forecasting reports from CFM and other sources

» Consuming other futures content from popular literature, film or video

» Generating original materials such as trends-analysis and scenarios

» Creating personalized systems for scanning, organizing and sharing information across social media platforms

Each assignment will be assessed by a combination of standardized testing and the submission of work products. 

I managed to become a volunteer for this project (which started just a few weeks ago). I hope that it will allow me to develop both my museums career and also to learn more about digital badges can help with the continuing professional development of museum professionals.

To find out more about this pilot project there is information here


  1. Excellent post, thanks. I can see huge areas of interest in this kind of environment, and I admit I had not considered the internal/staff training side of badges.

    Keep it up, and please let me know who you get on with your studies and badges.

    All the best, David

  2. Thank you for this post. We've been pleased to work closely with the associations you've cited above to help give museum professionals the credit they deserve for their ongoing commitment to their practice and the field.

    There are many other examples of museum professionals offering and earning digital badges, and I wanted to supplement your great list with some of them:

    Heritage Preservation, with the support of the IMLS, has welcomed thousands to their MOOCs on Collections Care, and well over 1500 people (and counting) have already completed the coursework required for digital badges:

    AASLH issues digital badges for some of its programs, including the AASLH Project Management for History Professionals Program:

    The Smithsonian Quests program issues digital badges not only to students worldwide, but to education professionals who are trained by the Smithsonian as experts in teaching with Smithsonian resources:

    Several other Smithsonian programs offer badges, such as this online conference on Civil Rights:

    I did want to correct one item in your post about Museums & Mobile 7; that event will indeed again by offering digital badges via Credly:

    As a side note, I thought I'd draw your attention to this very significant news from the IMLS:

    While not specifically badges being used to recognize museum professionals, it does represent a concerted effort on the part of four major museums to use badges in a way that will impact how many museum professionals recognize achievement in their own institutions.

    Finally, you might enjoy this video of a symposium at the Smithsonian a few months ago about recognizing museum-based contributions using digital badges:

    I was honored to join Max Anderson and leaders at the Smithsonian for this series of talks.

    Thank you again for bringing these exciting efforts into relief on your blog!

    Jonathan Finkelstein