Show Me Your Digital Badge: A new tool for higher education?

digitalbadgeThere’s a new badge in town and it’s digital, portable, and displayed in a multitude of locations including your resume, social network sites, and perhaps someday, even your diploma. A grown up version of merit badges earned by scouts and video game fans, digital badges both motivate and measure learning. Linked to course objectives or competencies, they can document learning and drive performance.

Digital badges are gaining traction with some of the most prominent businesses and learning organizations in the world, including Notre Dame University, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California Davis, the Smithsonian, Intel and Disney-Pixar. Even the medical community is badging their constituents thanks to a pilot program offered by the University of Michigan Medical School.

Although a number of software companies offer interfaces for both universities and organizations, for example, Credly allows users to easily create and share badges and BadgeOS works as a WordPress plugin, they still coordinate with the leader in the badge movement, Mozilla, the organization that gave us Firefox. Mozilla’s Open Badge system is free, portable, and evidence-based. Although badges can be issued by virtually anyone, each badge has meta-data attached that describes the skills and competencies behind the badge and also information about the issuer. A digital badge issued by an accredited university will carry more weight than a badge from your relatives or friends.

The majority of digital badges are awarded for continuing education, non-credit certification, and mastery of open learning coursework. UC Davis pioneered a system that awards digital badges for the mastery of curriculum related competencies in a degree program. It is a value added feature that allows students pursuing degrees in sustainable agriculture to document their skill and tell a story about what they can do. Notre Dame has developed a system that allows students to link digital badges to e-portfolios.

Universities using the Blackboard learning platform (like Roosevelt) now have the ability to issue badges to students using the Mozilla interface. Badges, or Achievements as they are called in Blackboard, are issued based on criteria developed by the instructor. Ideally, these criteria will be linked to course objectives, readily measurable, and of value to the student. When awarded, students can view the badges in Blackboard and can store them in their Mozilla Backpack. Badges can be added to LinkedIn accounts, resumes, and portfolios by simply adding a hyperlink to the Mozilla Backpack.

Although there is an increasing body of information on digital badges, here are a few sites that you don’t want to miss:

  1. An introduction to digital badges from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/show-me-your-badge.html?_r=0
  2. Digital badges and the Blackboard interface: https://sites.google.com/site/openbadgesinhighereducation/blackboard
  3. Mozilla’s open badges: http://openbadges.org and their wiki: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges
  4. The March 30th blog post by Vince Cyboran on digital badges: https://rutraining.org/2015/03/30/we-dont-need-no-stinkin-badges-or-do-we/

Tell us what you think. . .

  • As a student, instructor, or alumni, what are your thoughts about digital badges?
  • Would you like to see them incorporated in our curriculum and courses?
  • How might you use and benefit from digital badges?
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2 comments

  • Very interesting! Truthfully, I have never heard about this before. However, upon reading the article, I can see where this type of application can go. I think it is another valuable tool a school and student can use to get a message out and award. document and facilitate new ideas as well as communication. I would be curious of there would be way to involve this in the workplace somehow?

  • poorboy_richtaste (@Starstruckpress)

    I think this is absolutely amazing. It’s important that education, like all other important facets in life, evolves with technology. These badges are another way to recognize the achievements of students and award them accordingly.

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