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Term2.png BADGES

A badge is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. It is used to recognize the abilities of an individual on various fronts. It is also being increasingly used in the learning and training to indicate the skills imparted through various programs[1].

A badge can be in a physical form like those presented to the scouts or in a virtual form that are issued online. Also known as digital badge, a “virtual badge” is an online record of achievements, tracking the recipient’s communities of interaction that issued the badge and the work completed to get it. Digital badges can support connected learning environments by motivating learning and signaling achievement both within particular communities as well as across communities and institutions. They are presented to the participants on successfully meeting the learning targets and on completion of a particular course or training programme.

Badges are seen as a viable alternative to the traditional accreditation process. This comes with a change in the concept of a 'learning environment' which no longer means just a single classroom or online space, but instead encompasses many spaces in broader, networked, distributed and extensible environments that span time and space. Across these learning environments, learners are offered multiple pathways to gain competencies and refine skills through open, re-mixable and transparent tools, resources and processes. In this connected learning ecology, the boundaries are broken and the walls are down — now we just need to help it reach its full potential.

See also: Open badges, Tin can API.


Validation of Badges

The badge itself is more than a static image or button, but instead much of the value of the badge comes from the metadata attached to it. This information linked to or 'behind' each badge serves as justification and even validation of the badge. For example, a badge should include information about how it was earned, who issued it and the date of issue. Most importantly, the badge should be hyperlinked back to something demonstrating the criteria for the badge and/or the evidence such as an artifact, document or testimonial. The information 'behind' the badge may differ based on the skill, assessment and issuer, but the concept of a badge as the gateway to further information remains the same. This reduces the capacity for gaming the system (i.e. copying a badge and putting it on your site) and builds in an implicit validation system. Thus each badge should carry sufficient information with it to provide initial, and in many cases, sufficient validation.

Areas supported by badges

Following are the areas supported by the badges[2]:

1. Capturing and translating the learning across contexts:

• Capturing of the Learning Path: Badges could capture and explicitly represent a more specified set of skills and qualities as they occur along the learning path, and could also track a broader, and perhaps more granular, set of skills.

• Achievement Signaling – Badges can represent skills or achievements and thus signal peers or outside stakeholders, such as potential employers or institutions

2. Encouraging and motivating participation and learning outcomes:

• Motivation – Badges can provide intrinsic feedback or serve as milestones or rewards throughout a course or learning experience to encourage continued engagement and retention. Badges could make learners aware of skills or topics and encourage them to go down new paths or to spend more time trying to develop those skills.

• Supporting Innovation and Flexibility – Badges can be used to capture a wide range of skills, including those that are often missed or ignored by formal channels, or newer skills like digital literacies that evolve with the ever-changing society.

3. Formalizing and enhancing existing social aspects of informal and interest-driven learning:

• Identity/Reputation Building – Badges can serve as mechanisms to encourage and promote identity within the learning community, as well as reputation among peers.

• Community Building/Kinship – Badges can signal community or sub-community membership and can help people find peers with similar interests or mentors to help teach them skills they lack.

Link icon.png Web Resources
Link Content
Using badges to engage customers This article by Gabe Zichermann gives a four steps to badge nirvana can help you produce a stellar product, service and workplace.
Some organizations issuing badges This page includes information about some organizations that are currently issuing badges.


  1. Open badges Working paper
  2. EduTech Wiki