Within 10 years there will be five billion citizens of the web. Learning to read, write and participate in the digital world has become the 4th basic foundational skill next to the three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic in a rapidly evolving, networked world. In the 21st century, learning can take place anytime, anywhere, at any pace, and with the learner at the center.
This is not new to us at Mozilla. Our mission is to provide people with open access to the skills and know-how needed to use the web to improve their lives, careers, and organizations. Individuals need to have the ability to develop new knowledge, and the new basics combined with 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity everywhere and any time. These skills are quickly becoming inextricable and for the sake of simplicity, I am for now calling this combination of web literacy and 21st century skills – digital age skills.
In traditional U.S. education settings, this notion is still at an early stage, and discovering ways to put the student at the center and make learning that happens inside and outside of school “count” is a growing conversation in K-12 and higher education. The conversation has moved beyond subjects and grades to considering the skills and competencies that are needed for one to actually be college- and career-ready.
We have recently kicked off two exciting new planning projects to help in and out of school educators identify and teach digital-age skills, and to prototype badges with clear learning and achievement outcomes related to those skills. We’ll work with an advisory group drawn from our Mozilla community, industry, higher education, policymakers, and others to ensure the content and evidence is grounded in real-world application. Finally, we’ll make sure to document lessons learned for broader reach and information back to interested stakeholders.
The Leveraging Linked Learning and Career-ready Badges project, funded by the Irvine Foundation, will create and prototype digital badges with Linked Learning educators in California. The Afterschool, Digital Age Skills Badges and Competency-based Learning project, funded by the Mott Foundation, will also create a set of digital badges for prototyping and piloting, as well as to influence policymakers on the important role of afterschool programs in supporting and supplementing learning.
Over the next year and a half, these projects will work in alignment with the Learning Networks team to refine and strengthen the curriculum, training and badges to empower educators, and all learners, to grow their digital age skills. Stay tuned for more updates as the projects progress!