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We the Geeks: Building a 21st Century Resume

Watch "We the Geeks" on a 21st Century Resume live on Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT at WH.gov/WeTheGeeks. Join the conversation and ask your questions with the hashtag #WeTheGeeks. Sign up to get email updates about future hangouts.

In the same way that “merit badges” have been used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and medals have been used by the military to demonstrate achievement, a growing number of foundations, government agencies, companies and non-profits are exploring “digital badges” as the 21st century equivalent of a resume-builder that students and workers can use to showcase their skills, encourage their peers, and find meaningful educational and employment opportunities. 

With support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, and others, digital badges are being used to:

  • Recognize student accomplishments in technical fields such as computer science and robotics;
  • Help veterans get jobs by demonstrating the valuable real-world skills they’ve acquired in the military;
  • Inspire students as part of a larger effort to reduce the number of high-school dropouts, which today number more than 1 million per year.

While much work is yet to be done to build an evidence base for the value of badges in various contexts, the badges movement is growing. In March, the City of Chicago, Mozilla, MacArthur, and 143 other organizations launched the “Summer of Learning.” The effort will recognize student learning whether it occurs at a park, museum, library or online course – and give learners digital credentials that communicate the skills they have developed. And just last week, MacArthur announced a major multi-year goal: to work with partners to give two million more students and adults access to compelling digital badges that help them achieve education and employment goals.

Building on the President Obama’s call to action to look for new and creative ways to engage students in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, as well as his ConnectEd plan to deliver high-speed Internet to 99% of American students, some Federal agencies are exploring the potential of badges as well. From a major topic at the Department of Education’s Reimagining Education conference last month to the work by NASA to create space explorer badges, a number of Federal agencies are exploring digital badges in both education and employment. 

On Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the White House will host a “We The Geeks” Google+ Hangout on digital badges. During a conversation moderated by OSTP's Tom Kalil, we’ll be talking about the potential of digital badges to help students and adults with:

  • Erin Knight, Sr. Director of Learning & Badges, Mozilla Foundation
  • Connie Yowell, Director of Education for U.S. Programs, MacArthur Foundation
  • Bryan Norato, student, University of Rhode Island
  • Richard Culatta, Acting Director, Office of Educational Technology, Department of Education

Watch the "We the Geeks" Hangout live on WhiteHouse.gov/WeTheGeeks and on the White House Google+ page on Thursday. Got questions and comments? Use the hashtag #WeTheGeeks on Twitter and on Google+ and we'll answer some during the live Hangout.

Thomas Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at OSTP

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