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Digital Badges in Education – What Are They?

Digital badges in education are confirmed pointers that indicate individual success, abilities and skills, and interest in different learning settings. Here’s all that you need to know about the use of digital badges in education, their benefits, and mechanism.

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Member of the Board, Raccoon Gang

Sergiy has 18 years of experience in eLearning and management. Creating educational programs, career paths, online and offline courses he is making the educational world better as a co-founder of RG.

Digital Badges in Education – What Are They?

Digital badges have become a powerful tool. They have turned upside down the way students perceive learning and assessment. 
Here are five ways digital badges can improve classroom learning and motivate learners. 

1. Recognition and Recompense

 

Recognition is the best motivator. -Gerard C Eakedale

 

Naturally, people tend to learn and perform better when they are appreciated for what they do, their efforts are recognized, and they are rewarded for performing extraordinarily.

Digital badges in education allow educators to appreciate students for their achievements. These achievements could be related to anything including learning, positive behavior, efforts, skills, and so on. 

Apart from recognizing the success of top achievers, you can make the best use of online badges by awarding them to students who are struggling to excel. For this, you need to notice their smallest efforts and appreciate them even if they improve slightly. This will not only motivate them and encourage learning, but will also create a positive environment by making your sessions more inclusive. 

2. Motivation

To recognize is to motivate. We feel motivated when we are praised for our hard work and efforts regardless of the outcome. The same is the case with students in learning environments and employees in companies across the world.
It is extremely important for instructors or teachers to motivate students to do better and aspire to success. In the words of Gustav G of ‘WeAreTeachers’ on Facebook:

As teachers, we have the great privilege and responsibility to impact our students’ lives positively, giving them reasons to push forward and motivating them to want to succeed in life.

This is another thing digital badges can help you to do effortlessly. All you need to do is to include digital badges in education to motivate students by making each badge worth a few points that students can earn and use for purchasing rewards. These rewards can include educational gifts, homework exemption, grace points in a test, or a gaming session for those with highest reward points every month. 

Such a reward system not only motivates students to learn but also makes learning fun and enjoyable. 

3. Goals and Objectives

One simply can’t expect learners to learn unless they are clearly told about learning goals and objectives. Learning goals enable students to have a clear idea about what they will be taught and why. Dr. Robert Marzano is a renowned researcher, trainer, and speaker in education. He also emphasizes the significance of goals and objectives in learning, believing that they encourage students to learn in the right direction. 

The best way you can make students remember their learning goals is by always having them displayed. You can also associate ratings from 1 to 5 that let students see their progress towards their goal(s). You can associate a digital badge with rewards on each of the marks on the scale where ‘5’ will be the highest mark and mark ‘3’ will indicate mastery.

That’s the beauty of digital badges in education, they can be incorporated at all levels and areas of learning including goals and objectives. Each badge that you associate will become the criteria for students to get rewards, hence motivating them to learn and work towards their learning goals.

A group of researchers also conducted a study in 2018 to determine the effect of digital badges on setting learning goals and motivating students to achieve them. The result was positive.

4. Reconsider and Revamp Assessment Practices

Every student is different and a single learning style doesn’t work for all of them. Some will be great classroom participants but fail to be good at test-taking, and vice versa. Sadly, students across the world are mostly judged with how they perform on written tests/exams. 

With digital badges you don’t have to depend solely on exams and other conventional assessment methods. The badges can be associated with everything, including class participation, information retention, attentiveness, positive behavior, etc. This can greatly help in making classroom environments positive by appreciating every student for individual strengths and encouraging them to learn in ways that are more comfortable for them.

Undoubtedly, the introduction of digital badges in education has opened up a new and effective way to assess students based on specific learning styles. With badges, students can be rewarded based on overall performance, additionally it's one of the best ways to increase engagement in learning process

Steps to Successfully Implement Digital Badges in Education

1. Learn All About Digital Badges

Some key points and terminologies that you should remember when implementing online badges include:

  • Badges that are public are open for everyone to access and can be conferred for achievements in particular areas they are confined to.
     
  • Private badges are not accessible to the general public and are only used as the proof of efforts made by a learner/performer to earn it.
     
  • The term ‘badge authoring’ refers to the pictorial formation of badge using either an online application or a digital platform.
     
  • Only the distributors who are scrutinized and well-reputed are entitled to ‘badge issuance’. This restriction has been enforced to preserve the value of badges.
     
  • Badges that are made are collected to be stored in ‘badge portfolios’. These gatherings help link a person’s skills and abilities with their accomplishments in a single place.
     
  • A collection of knowledge and experiences that are important for passing specific exams and gaining knowledge is known as a ‘badge pathway’.

Main concepts of digital badges design are based on gamification mechanics theory, therefore we recommend to look through our latest guide to eLearning gamification.

2. Follow Best Badging Practices

Here are a few digital badging practices that you should always follow to save time and make online badges more effective:

  • The badges you incorporate into learning should be able to get validated by a third party, should be challenging to achieve, and relevant.
     
  • The use of digital badges is not limited to a mere classroom measure of performance.  Think beyond the classroom and individual performance. Focus on teamwork, participation, facilitate online training to award badges.
  • Ensure that the students in your class are aware of how awarding badges works, its purpose, and when they can get a badge. Tell your students about the benefits of badges beyond getting rewards. This is the best way you can expect an increased learning retention

3. Look for Badge-Awarding Platforms and Learn From Them

Before you finally begin to implement your very own badge-awarding program, get familiar with the platforms that already exist. See what badging platforms look like and how they function. Here are a few platforms for digital badging that you can check:

4. Prepare and Implement a Checklist

Develop a checklist that will allow you to easily judge your strategy for implementation of digital badges. The checklist can include:

  1. Classroom and context analysis

  2. The end goal for badging

  3. Timeline for implementation of badging and achieving the end goal

  4. Collaboration with different companies for badge creation and issuance

  5. Selection of a digital badging platform

  6. Evaluation methods for badge assignment 

  7. Distinguishing badges from grades

  8. Designing pictures for digital badges

  9. An evaluation method to measure the success of a badging program

Digital badging is a wonderful tool that educators can use to recognize learners’ efforts and rewarding them to encourage learning. However, the benefits solely depend upon its correct implementation.

 

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