In my blog about the presentation from Elisabeth Soep I didn’t mention the second half of the presentation. It was a panel of local innovators: Cassie Scharber (moderator), Marika Staloch, Youth Services Director, St. Paul Public Libraries; Jenna Sethi, Youth Studies, University of Minnesota, Delania Haug, Teacher, South High School, Minneapolis.


While all of the panelists had interesting things to say Marika Staloch announced that the St. Paul Public Libraries had received a grant from MacArthur for an innovative learning lab. The learning lab will be the in-person center for city-wide programming where young people can be supported through courses and caring mentors. As a part of this growing programming St. Paul will also be distributing badges.

BADGES?!? I am doing badges too! Please, be a learning friend. So of course I tracked Marika down after the presentation and asked if we could connect. She referred me to her colleague Leslie Spring, Library Associate at St. Paul Public Libraries. Leslie and I made a plan to meet up for coffee and she invited a colleague she was working with on their badges, Gary Leatherman, owner at macMonkey Digital Studios.


The first time we met we shared about our programs and goals. I shared about the Generator School Network and how I was currently writing an RFP for the badge integration. Leslie shared more about the program Marika introduced and some other connections with the Northstar Online Digital Literacy Assessment. Gary shared about some of the online platforms and curriculum he had experience with.

The second time we met we focused more on the technical aspects of the Open Badges platform. Leslie is lucky because essentially she gets to build her website from scratch and can choose a website platform that works best with Open Badges. I need to make it work with what I have, not that the GSN isn’t great but there are other types of websites that would maybe be easier. Gary is very helpful in this area because he stays up to date with the tech calls and can speak the lingo.

The advancements in Open Badges continue to happen all the time. This is wonderful considering it is free but also difficult because you need to make decisions based on the current technological capabilities. In a few months, there may be an update that could have saved you a lot of money from paying a web developer to create a custom solution.


What this means for my work

It is wonderful having a local personal learning network that I can call upon to learn and grow with. Continuing to call upon my growing tech network will be essential for the best design and implementation possible. Our coffee conversations have stretched my knowledge of Open Badges and challenged me to think of alternative solutions for my design.

Also, more meetings at Groundswell in St. Paul. They serve bacon, gruyere, rosemary scones.

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