Digital Badges?

Now that I have shared about the website I work on, and our impetus for integrating digital badges. I want to ensure all my readers know what I mean by digital badges. There is a lot of media and reports on digital badges, below are some of my favorite resources. That being said, what I have shared in previous posts and what I hope is clearly illustrated below is that there is still a lot we do not know about digital badges.


“A badge is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. From the Boy and Girl Scouts, to PADI diving instruction, to the more recently popular geo-location game, Foursquare, badges have been successfully used to set goals, motivate behaviors, represent achievements and communicate success in many contexts. A “digital badge” is an online record of achievements, tracking the recipient’s communities of interaction that issued the badge and the work completed to get it. Digital badges can support connected learning environments by motivating learning and signaling achievement both within particular communities as well as across communities and institutions. (Source: Erin Knight White Paper)”


To follow that definition, I would like to share a video I created in the fall semester of 2013 in CI 5331, Introductions to Learning Technologies taught by Aaron Doering. This was an issue paper assignment and the Youtube was the oral presentation of the research paper.

In my video I outlined research being the key issue for digital badges. There is some research being done and thankfully funded by some great foundations. But we still have a lot to learn about the design and use of digital badges.

The next video is the announcement of the 4th Annual Launch of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition. This iteration of the competition specifically focuses on digital badges. You may not be interested in watching the whole video; I found this video while reading Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s remarks. It was nice to see his speech in the broader context of the event. His remarks are at 22:20 but can be read on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

This video, was posted on September 16, 2011 and I shared it because I believe it encapsulates the hopes that government, for-profit, foundations, non-profits, and schools have in digital badges.

Quote from Secretary Duncan:

“We’re excited that, this year, this competition will serve as a catalyst to advance the potential of digital badges. Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate – as well as document and display – their skills.

Badges can help speed the shift from credentials that simply measure seat time, to ones that more accurately measure competency. We must accelerate that transition. And, badges can help account for formal and informal learning in a variety of settings.”

And while I share in that excitement of the potential digital badges (3 years later) have on education in a wide variety of contexts. I cannot help but understand where some of the skeptics were coming from. Sheryl Grant of HASTAC outlines some of the badge supporters as well as skeptics in her post Badges are Made of People: The Social Psychological Motivations of Badges.

How does badging work?

Here is an infographic created by Mozilla OpenBadges, a free software that can be used by anyone. Mark Surman Mozilla Foundation introduced the OpenBadges software development at 14:30 in the video above but there has been quite a bit of progress since then. Mozilla Open Badges is not the only way to distribute badges but again it is the free and widely used non-proprietary software. Here is how it works:



Additional Badge Resources:

Alliance for Excellent Education’s report Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges.’s collection of digital badge related blog posts and resources.

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