Shedd Aquarium Partners with National Louis University to Expand Online Professional Development Offerings for Educators

May 29, 2014

Great Lakes Science Digital Badging Program Now Available for Graduate Credit

CHICAGO –National leaders in education, Shedd Aquarium and National Louis University (NLU) have partnered to provide educators a unique opportunity to earn graduate credit through an online digital badging program centered on Great Lakes science. Answering increased demands for professional development offerings aligned with state and national standards, the Great Lakes Science Digital Badging program builds confidence and competency around environmental literacy and 21st-century skills.

“Shedd Aquarium and NLU are committed to helping educators stay at the forefront of trends, content and digital tools,” said Joy Kubarek-Sandor, vice president of learning at Shedd. “Digital learning models such as the Great Lakes Science Digital Badging program help educators everywhere integrate more science activities into curriculum, and we’re excited to build upon our longstanding relationship by offering learners throughout the country this innovative professional development opportunity.”

In accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards, the program incorporates interactive missions that familiarize teachers with basic Great Lakes issues before diving deeper into environmental science. Missions involve playing games, designing science investigations, participating in a citizen science project, observing wildlife and building curriculum, among other activities. As educators use newfound skills to complete each activity, they’ll be awarded digital badges to display on LinkedIn profiles and resumes. Many activities from the Great Lakes Science digital badging program also can be adapted for the classroom and used to supplement existing lessons or curricula.

“I’m always looking for ways to stay current and incorporate new and relevant material into my classroom,” said Lisa Hughes, an Indiana middle school science teacher. “The digital badging program increased my knowledge and understanding of invasive species – a topic important to my community – and I appreciated that it adhered to my state’s environmental science standards.”

Designed by learning experts at Shedd, a leader in conservation education, the Great Lakes Science Digital Badging program is offered for credit exclusively through NLU. Participants in more than 30 eligible states can register through the university to earn one semester hour of graduate credit upon successful completion. Credit can then be applied to NLU programs or transferred to other higher education institutions pending their approval.

Educators not seeking credit may also enroll in the online Great Lakes Science Digital Badging program at no cost.

“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Shedd Aquarium and enhance professional development opportunities for teachers,” said Ignacio Lopez, Ed.D, director of NLU’s National College of Education Outreach Unit and assistant professor of Education. “It is important to continually offer teachers viable and interesting options to advance their subject-matter expertise through innovative learning platforms – all with the ultimate goal of creating more enriched classroom experiences for students.”

This immersive digital program can be completed outside of the classroom and doesn’t require student involvement, making it easy for educators to participate during the summer months. Participants will cultivate an online community of learners that can share, learn and explore together using Shedd Aquarium’s resources and expertise, and educators are invited to share ideas and projects on the Shedd Learning Pinterest page

Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District.

Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

About Shedd Aquarium
The John G. Shedd Aquarium, a nonprofit institution dedicated to public education and conservation, cares for more than 32,000 animals representing nearly 1,500 species from around the world. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium is known as “The World’s Aquarium” - welcoming 2 million guests annually. Visit to learn more. 

About National Louis University 
Founded in 1886, National Louis is a nonprofit, non-denominational University comprised of three colleges: National College of Education; College of Arts & Sciences; and College of Management and Business. From its inception, National Louis has provided educational access to adult, immigrant and minority populations – a mission it sustains today. The University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields of education, management, human services, counseling, public policy, and others concerned with human and community development. National Louis is well-known for an exceptional history in teacher preparation, and continues to be a leader in educating future teachers and community leaders to succeed in urban environments. For more information, visit

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