Digital Badges for Students and Educators

How did I first learn about digital badges? On strava? At one of Noah Geisel’s talks at CCFLT? Surfing Edsurge?

I can’t recall the how the fervor took hold, but after preliminary research I knew I wanted to gamify my classroom with these aesthetically worthy medallions.

“So...How do I make one?”

I thought about opening Illustrator and doing it on my own... Then I did what any innovative 21st century teacher on vacation would do... phoned a friend.

Ryan took a stab at a rendition that aligned with the world language proficiency standards and eight of my students approved them during Spanish Language Innovation Week. (Stop reading this article and go to Ryan's website it's gorgeous.)

Thanks Ryan! Now what?

In order to effectively badge my students I hit up the #ISTE2016’s pre-conference workshop with rockstars Noah Geisel , Will O’Bryne, and our favorite badging brit Doug Belshaw. Four thumbs up for an incredibly engaging workshop session that was both informative and sprinkled with human centered design post-it note activities.

To make it even more fun Bryan Mathers followed our tweets on #badgepathways and turned our badge dream tweets into cartoon realities in real time. (Thank you!!!)


Here are some questions I got answers to:

What is the difference between a digital badge and open sourced badge?

From their presentation: "#OpenBadges scaffold pedagogy-focused learning activities and embed formative/summative assessments while celebrating individual curiosities." There’s a ton of data inside open badges! This is what makes them so incredible valuable and micro-credentials. You can see who issued the badge and the difficulty-level of the criteria (think body of evidence from your student’s website portfolio) and even whether or not the badge has been endorsed by other organizations. A digital badge is an online badge within a closed space - I can create my own badging system within my classroom to motivate students and share on their website.

What is the badge taxonomy? I.E. the different uses for badges?

You can receive a badge for membership - i.e. belonging to a group or organization. You can receive a badge for mastery, demonstrating excellence. You can receive a badge for “capability” on the way of mastery- reaching a defined standard. You can receive a badge for participation - involvement in one or more activities. Badges can be used for a variety of things!

Why badges over “certificates”?

Paper certificates don’t have the metadata and endorsed validity from other organizations in real time online.

Do you use badges in your daily life? Would you consider moving to a badge system? Do you think earning badges based on competencies could be more meaningful for authentic language than our grading system? What could the potential impact be?