Digital badges

Definition

Digital badges is a digital file (web page) that is a visual representation of a learning or accomplishment. It’s a tool that confirms the evaluation of specific experiences. They can be host, manage and shared across digital files containing a set of encrypted metadata that describe a skill, experience or level of accomplishment.

Uses

It is possible to group digital badges according to three main goals:

  • Motivate the learner to learn in adding value to learning activities;
  • Recognize achievements and experiences.
  • Certify acquiring knowledge, developing skills and abilities.

Contexts of use

Their purpose is unfolded in various contexts they incidently help to bridge.

  • In academia and educational institutions, badges can be used to support and motivate students, to customize learning, as a complement to various processes of graduations and certification already in use (co-curriculum).
  • In the workplace, they can improve talent and human capital management, favour recruitment and integration, allow managing and designing the professional development of employees, increase organizational effectiveness, and contribute to Internet marketing and to the reputation of organizations.
  • In society, they give value to non-formal learning in public education, social engagement (volunteering), new innovation and learning spaces (Fab Lab, Living Lab), online training (applications, MOOC), and learning and digital citizenship programs (such as Learning cities).

Academia

  • Makewav.es (England) offers school teachers and organizations a social learning web platform with a digital badge system that connects and mobilizes young people, recognizes skills and accomplishments, measures and tracks the social impact of the activities offered.
  • Mouse (USA) contributes to the development of young people by creating and offering resources and educational activities using technologies. They have been experimenting with digital badges for years and have created many activity paths with the use of these as a certification tool. They are trained more than 33,000 students in schools. They have several thematic learning paths ((Design with Purpose, Serious Games, Green Tech, Web Literacy & Coding), etc.) on their platform.
  • School of Business at St-Lawrence College (Canada) has developed a digital badge system within the Business School to recognize a range of key competencies (communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, team, leadership) and valorize the participation of the student’s international programs and competitions like: Enactus, SPARK Academy and SLC Accounting Competition.

Workplace

  • IBM (USA) has implemented digital badge system to provide digital recognition for skills attained and offer a method of sharing credentials. They generate many kings of digital badges (Knowledge badge, skill badge, proficiency badge, professional certification badge, and others). Other companies, such as Adobe, CISCO and Microsoft, also use badge systems to support the professional development of their employees.
  • HR certification (USA) is dedicated to advancing the HR profession by developing and administering best-in-class accredited certifications. They use digital badges to certify different kings of professionals in Human Resources.
  • Deakin Digital (owned by Deakin University) (Australia) offer verified, evidence-based employability credentials for the development of high-performing organizations. The use badges to certify Professional Practice credentials (Self-management, teamwork, communication, critical thinking, global citizens) and professional expertise credentials (Digital marketing, data analytics, creative). For example, the critical thinking badge has three levels and a list of criteria to obtain it.
  • CADRE 21 – Centre for Animation, Development and Educational Research for the 21st century (Canada) develops professional development services for teachers. This continuing education platform has a system of digital badges that allows to accompany and to recognize the acquisition of knowledge and the development of competences of the teachers. There are four levels of badges available (Explorer, Architect, Virtuoso, Innovator) to effectively support the progress of professional development of teachers.

Society

  • Several companies, universities, associations and training centres offer personal and social learning products and services. For example, Duolingo (USA) offers a free language learning service via a mobile application. It now has more than 120 million users. It uses a system of digital badges to motivate the learners, to show the progress of the learning and to confirm the obtained competences.
  • LRNG Cities (USA) combine in-school, out-of-school, employer-based and online learning experiences into a seamless network that is open and inviting to all youth. LRNG Cities connect youth to learning opportunities in schools, museums, libraries, and businesses, as well as online. There are 12 cities involved in this program. Chicago – City of learning was the first city to experience this innovative approach. Today, their platform lists more than 500 activities classified by subjects in the fields of arts, science, media, sports, computer science, etc.
  • Communautique (Canada), hub for experimentation and training in technological and social open innovation, is developing a digital badge system to motivate, recognize and certified many activities, training and skill development in Fab Labs (Fabrication Laboratory) and Living Labs (codesign approach).