Maine State of Learning Introduction: Hello, Summer of ’16!

“I like badges, because when I look back, I’ll get to know what I learned.”

~Dylan, MSOL Summer Learner

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Hello, and welcome to the first post of 2016 on MSOL’s blog! My name’s Michael, and I’m an intern for the Maine State of Learning! I’ll be running (and writing) this blog for the summer. A few facts about me: I like (in no particular order of preference) coffee, Disney movies, books, a capella music, and all initiatives having to do with improving education opportunities and learning.

On this blog you’ll find everything from testimonial stories, to case studies; opinion pieces, to puns (maybe); articles specifically focused on information and statistics, to videos about… well… more information and statistics. Okay, we’ll be posting a lot, but we can promise one thing: all of our content will be informative, engaging, and supportive of all types of learning opportunities: in Maine, and around the world!

So, a quick refresher for those of you who are joining us for the first time (welcome!). What exactly is Maine State of Learning?  

Good question! MSOL is a project fueled by public and private partnerships across the state of Maine to promote learning opportunities available to Maine citizens of all ages. This “promoting of learning opportunities” means surfacing the rich landscape of learning opportunities available, including out of school and interest-based learning opportunities, recognizing learning accomplishments through digital badges, and connecting it all to statewide proficiencies, career-pathways, and personal goals.

Have you ever taken an art class at your local community center, for example, or an introduction to computer programming class on your weekends off, but never received a diploma or certificate verifying that you had completed the course? You’ve just gained valuable skills from these courses! Perhaps you didn’t take these courses for the “recognition”, but when it comes to applying to jobs and other opportunities in life, employers and admission teams usually want to see a “complete picture” of who you are: what kinds of interests, skills, and experiences you bring to the table.

Open digital badging, as a new way of recognizing learning, allows you to create a portfolio of experiences and skills – effectively conveying to potential employers, teachers, and friends, what exactly you’ve learned, accomplished, and experienced. In leveraging digital badging, MSOL is a statewide system that celebrates and connects learning opportunities (from being an “Explorer” through the “Telling Room”, to earning the “Jedi Knight Badge” from the Breakwater Enrichment Center) across all of the many regions in Maine — creating new pathways for careers, while also furthering education, and helping Maine youth and adults achieve their life goals.

So, what has MSOL been up to? Well, Maine State of Learning was launched in 2015, with a “pilot phase” designed to start small and feature summer programs in the greater Portland area. Three “tracks” of learning were created to organize types of educational opportunities — environment/outdoors, agriculture/food, and arts/maker — and the skills taught were recognized through digital badging. In total, 18 organizations distributed badges, with 123 badges issued!

And 2016 is shaping up to be an even more exciting year for MSOL and digital badging as more companies and Maine citizens learn about course offerings, badges, and benefits. Some of our current goals include rolling out badging across the Maine Afterschool Network, expanding badging opportunities at the University of Maine and through the University of Maine school system, and establishing badging opportunities for Adult Education opportunities through the state.

Thank you so much for joining us on our journey, and stay tuned for more information, updates, and stories, as we (and students) grow!

Happy learning (and badging), everyone!

We hope this introduction was helpful and informative! Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Send us an email! We’d love to chat. 🙂