What are Digital Badges?

Badges are seen as a way to grant certification for formal and informal learning in the form of microcredits, which assess learned skills based on outcomes, rather than seat time. Often viewed as a component of gamification, digital badges are being implemented to help track, capture, and visualize learning in a way that incentivizes students. The concept behind badging embodies historical models of recognition for personal skills and achievement, such as when a Boy or Girl Scout earns a merit badge. Currently, digital badging systems are gaining traction in many online learning environments including Khan Academy, with promising results. One key development that has helped the progress of digital badges was the Open Badge Initiative (OBI) — an open specification for badging established by the Mozilla Foundation, which enables providers and users alike to display achievements on the web, on any platform. More institutions are looking to digital badges as an alternative method of validating formal and informal achievements, not just for students, but for teachers, too. While badges are not yet pervasive in education, they are being used by educators and organizations that are seeking comprehensive approaches to demonstrate a student’s learning path — methods that encompass far more than grades and traditional credits.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Surprised nobody has commented here yet... Badges are a huge step toward gamification, which can be a huge internal motivator to continue a learning process. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • Badges also allow public recognition for learner achievements. This is related to the internal motivation idea, but not the same. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
  • A problem is that use of badges requires crossing some hurdles: Creative, skilled instructor; technical integration using something like OBI; recognition of what the badges mean; and critical mass of learners to stoke a healthy competitiveness. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • Badges will let life-long learners to create a customized portfolio of their experiences of extension education. - wolforkt wolforkt May 30, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
  • As demonstrated in the Colorado Master Gardener program, a catalog of programs can be developed and delivered to consumers. The consumers can incrementally work on a series of programs to achieve higher learning. Learners do not have to be overwhelmed by the entirety of a program and can progress in bitesize skill acquisitions. - Stan Stan May 31, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Nothing comes to mind. I have limited experience with badges... Have not used them at all in Extension. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Hugely important as noted at the end of the overview to certify learner progress. As higher ed transitions from brick-and-mortar to online, this will only grow in importance. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016 - Stan Stan May 31, 2016
  • The SUNY system in New York has placed great emphasis on exploring micro-credentialling and digital badges. For the last two years, it has received greater attention at conferences and SUNY wide presentations. - Stan Stan Jun 4, 2016
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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