Dallas to become learning lab for students seeking digital badges

DALLAS: Students who spend the summer visiting museums, the zoo and public libraries could earn special digital badges through the new Dallas City of Learning project. The project, which kicks off Monday, June 9, is designed to help students show mastery of a skill and show off their accomplishments with badges that are similar to scouting badges.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the nonprofit group Big Thought announced the launch of the initiative last week. Big Thought focuses on building partnerships to improve public education through creative learning. This summer’s pilot program is geared to youths ages 5 to 18 and is expected to reach more than 10,000 kids. The activities for the kids run the gamut – hands-on experiences at Dallas public libraries, visits to museums, theater camp sessions and studying animal behavior at the Dallas Zoo.

The goal is for students to expand their knowledge and collect digital badges to showcase achievements to family, schools and potential employers. Several cities are using the program, which kicked off last year in Chicago, and officials are hoping the program will help participants gain college admission, land internships and secure job interviews. More than 50 organizations have partnered in the initiative in Dallas. Corporate donors are McDermott Foundation, Texas Instruments and Bank of America.

“Powerful learning occurs when kids explore their interests on their own time in hands-on, collaborative ways,” Rawlings said in the news release. “Dallas is ensuring that all our children have the opportunity to pursue their passions outside the classroom, helping them develop essential skills like critical thinking and problem solving. No matter their interests, talents, background or resources, Dallas’ youth will have access to exciting opportunities to discover and develop creative and intellectual skills.” More information and a searchable database of activities can be found at dallascityoflearning.org. Events can be filtered by location, age range and whether events are free or paid. The initiative wraps up Aug. 25.

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