16 Badging

Odbayar Batsaikhan and Carrie Lewis Miller

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize the benefits and challenges of implementing a badging system
  • Identify badging platforms
  • Create 3-4 badges for a learning experience that the learners are familiar with

A badge is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment of skills, qualities, or interests, and they are a digital way to acknowledge student work or their accomplishments. For example, students might receive a badge if they achieve certain levels of success on assignments or if they do extra work, such as learning a new grammatical concept or editing another student’s work. Learners in the class can see other students’ badges so that they will be encouraged to compete and be aware of the different badges that can be earned. For teachers, badges make classroom goals more visible to students. Badges can have a significant impact on motivating learners to participate and collaborate, and can also be used as an assessment tool. Figure 8 shows examples of badges that were created and awarded to students in a game-based learning in education course.

Example Badges for a Game-Based Learning Course

Figure 8. Example badges students were awarded in a GBL in Education course.

Badging is not a new concept to motivation and achievement.  Scouting badges have been issued for over a century and many organizations issue physical badges to reward exceptional employee performance (Figures 9-10).

Scouting Badges

Figure 9. Scouting badges. From “Cubs badge selection” by Rafmarham, 2020, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cubs_badge_selection.jpg#file. CC-BY-SA-4.0

Home Depot Merit Badges

Figure 10. Merit badges issued by the Home Depot to employees.

Digital badges are electronic symbols used as credentialing tools that serve as a visual representation of knowledge or skills that have been obtained or completed. Often called “micro-credentials”, badges are often awarded at the end of training modules, conferences, or other professional development offerings (Stefaniak & Carey, 2019). Badge design and process of implementation depend on the purpose of the badge. Badges are issued by individual organizations that set criteria for what constitutes earning a badge. They’re most often issued through an online credential or badging platforms such as Badgr or Accredible. These platforms allow organizations to design, issue, and manage the various badges they want to award to individuals.  Badges can also be created using design programs or using badging tools within certain learning management systems (e.g., Brightspace, Canvas, Moodle).  Open badges are a subset of digital badges that contain built-in data that provides “proof” to the viewer that the badge holder has earned that credential.  Issuers of badges can build in this documentation into the badging platform so that when a badge is clicked on, the digital evidence of competency can be viewed.


Question for Discussion

  1. Think of a learning context with which you are familiar. Using one of the free badging platforms, create 2-3 badges. Post them in a discussion and describe to use how you would use them. What in the readings supports your intended use of these badges? What design decisions did you make in terms of color, appearance, name, and evidence needed?


Stefaniak, J., & Carey, K. (2019). Instilling purpose and value in the implementation of digital badges in higher education. Int J Educ Technol High Educ, 16(44). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0175-9


Recommended Supplementary Material

  • Gamrat, C., Zimmerman, H. T., Dudek, J., & Peck, K. (2014). Personalized workplace learning: An exploratory study on digital badging within a teacher professional development program. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(6), 1136-1148. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12200
  • Ford, E., Izumi, B., Lottes, J., & Richardson, D. (2015). Badge it. Reference Services Review, 43(1), 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/RSR-07-2014-0026
  • Ahn, J., Pellicone, A., & Butler, B. S. (2014). Open badges for education: What are the implications at the intersection of open systems and badging? Research in Learning Technology, 22(1), 23563-13. https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v22.23563
  • All about Digital Badges podcast by Connie Malamed, The eLearning Coach podcast


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Game Based and Adaptive Learning Strategies Copyright © 2021 by Odbayar Batsaikhan and Carrie Lewis Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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