Santa Cruz Tech Beat


8 Tips for Creating a Digital Badging System: Recognize, Encourage and Affirm Youth Who Build Tech Skills

By Shannon Campe
Program Manager, ETR

March 5, 2019 — Scotts Valley, CA

What do you know about badges? I’m not talking about the patch you sew on your Girl Scout vest when you’ve completed your Space Science Explorer requirements. I’m talking about digital badges that people can share widely online.

In a recent study, we set out to see how digital badges could be motivating to learners and useful to educators by creating a badging system for a youth-focused technology program. We’d like to share our learning and encourage you to consider taking similar steps if you’re working in an informal learning space.

What’s the Big Deal About Badges?

Digital badges help educators track their students’ progress. They also equip learners with a tool to acknowledge their accomplishments and show what they are learning—especially in out-of-school settings where there are no diplomas or transcripts. Digital badges are also a way to gamify learning by motivating students to level-up as they achieve new skills or accomplishments.

What Are Digital Badges?
Badges are digital micro-credentials that validate accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. They are “packaged” in a digital file, represented by an icon. The file holds the description of the badge, who issued it and the criteria required to receive it.

Early work in digital badges by Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation led to the development of the “Open Badges” technical standard—a group of open source specifications and standards that enable badges to be shared within learning management systems and, more widely, through social media. There is now even an annual summit all about digital badges.

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