Badges and fab labs: lifelong learning in multiple ways

In this École branchée educational meeting, Geoffroi Garon defines “fab labs”, “makerspaces”, “living labs” and digital badges!

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In this École branchée educational meeting, Geoffrey Garon defines “fab labs”, “makerspaces”, “living labs” and digital badges!

(text by Audrey Miller)

The “École branchée educational meetings” are podcast interviews with school stakeholders from here and elsewhere. In this episode, our collaborator (and concept creator) Marc-André Girard talks with Mr. Geoffroi Garon-Shoulder. He is both a university researcher (PhD in communication) and an entrepreneur in educational technology, mainly with digital badges. He is also a director of Communautique, which is both a living lab and fab lab.

Make anything… or almost!

First of all, in the interview, he recalls what a fab lab, word from English " manufacturing laboratories ". The fab lab movement was born almost 15 years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Concretely, it is a physical place where there are digitally controlled equipment that can be used to manufacture just about anything! They are all connected and manipulated using precision software. Also, these are spaces open to the public. You don't have to be an expert in technology to go there: artists and engineers alike, young and old, and of course educators meet there. There would be 900 to 1000 in the world fab labs recognized by MIT. They adhere to a charter, which notably requires openness to the public and an educational component.

Mr. Garon-Épaule continued the interview with details concerning the makerspaces and living labs, other open places largely inspired by the “Do It Yourself” (DIY) movement.

Valuing skills and learning with digital badges

Subsequently, he explains what the famous digital badges are. Basically, it is a platform for promoting skills and learning. The badge system refers to the “badges” issued by scouts, but in digital version. They are therefore digital traces of learning. He explains that they are generally considered under four types of use: motivation, certification, promotion, and business.

Digital badges make it possible to certify and encapsulate informal learning. He gives the example of a course to learn to fly a drone. The training can be certified by a badge system, which then constitutes an encrypted, secure digital trace.

To collect and show badges, we use a digital portfolio, which Geoffroi Garon-Épaule compares to a sort of skills CV that can enhance a traditional CV. For him, a badge system is a "powerful, but simple tool".

Digital badges, fab labs, the makerspaces… What link with school? “All of this fits into a context of lifelong learning and learning in multiple ways,” he sums up. In particular, badges make it possible to promote different paths among students, extracurricular, etc.


geoffroigaronBadges and fab labs: Lifelong learning in multiple ways

Marc-André Girard speaks with Geoffroi Garon-Épaule
Communication researcher and educational technology entrepreneur

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About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Miller
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

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