Three Ways Digital Badges are Used in Education

Digital badges have many applications, but most importantly, they associate people with the knowledge and skills they possess – the short definition is “a validated indicator of accomplishment.” In today’s always-on environment, smart phone apps such as Foursquare incorporate the concept of badges to encourage game competition and offer rewards. In the academic domain, the concept of awarding badges is taken straight from the realm of gaming into the professional world.

In its truest form, a digital badge is simply a graphic accompanied by a description awarded to someone who has demonstrated specific skills or knowledge. Much like cash, digital badges are portable and verifiable. By being instantly verifiable, digital badges have an advantage over college degrees, resumes and transcripts.

What is a Digital Badge?

Watch this brief video clip on digital badges.

Digital technology is fast-paced and is already starting to replace the standard way of doing things, such as the process of tracking down and contacting the university issuing a diploma. In education, badges represent an accurate depiction of what a student actually knows rather than what their standardized-test score or report card says about them.

The concept of digital badges was boosted in 2012 when Mozilla Open Badges developed an open system for representing and displaying badges. From that point, the early and most active uses of digital badges have been with online courses. One step toward becoming mainstream that is already underway is their incorporation into learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard Learn and Moodle.

How Are They Effective?

There are two main benefits to the concept of digital badges: motivation and certification.

Motivation comes from the use of gamification, the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been a popular new trend, especially in the corporate world to help increase employee engagement, and the use of games at work or at school has definitely resonated with millennials. The certification aspect of digital badges provides widely-accepted recognition to an individual’s development.

Education has been a leading adopter of digital badges to enhance student development and recognize learning. The classroom has evolved and by integrating digital technology, now provides a blended learning environment with increasing use of collaboration tools.

This new hybrid connected classroom has created a new model for educating students, but presents a challenge for motivating and recognizing student achievement. By developing innovative uses of digital badging, companies such as Blackboard and Pearson, along with universities such as Purdue and Quinnipiac, have overcome this challenge.

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