What is a digital badge?
Digital badges are a learning recognition symbol for achievements, skills, or interests. They are designed to fill in gaps for how we describe what we know and can do in the real world. Digital badges unbundle the competencies within courses and workforce experiences to more coherently define skills that are not articulated in larger credentials (e.g., degrees and certifications). Additionally, they describe the qualities and accomplishments of learners based on their interests in both formal and informal learning contexts.
Why use digital badges and not paper certificates?
Initially, we imagined paper certificates that would map out learning progressions and be used to earn internships. The problem with these certificates is that they are not easily linked to the evidence a student curates to earn them. Linking evidence with a digital badge is useful in several important ways:
- It allows prospective employers to assess the credibility of the micro-credential. With a click on a badge, the evidence can be viewed that shows how the learner earned the badge. Our industry partners loved the idea of being able to watch a quick video that shows the learner demonstrating a concrete skill.
- It allows learners to reflect on what led to success with current and past practices. If a learner wants to re-learn a particular skill set, all they have to do is click on their badge to view the tips and strategies that helped them previously reach success.
- It creates opportunities for learners to be engaged in a larger community of practice. Mentors can provide feedback on formative artifacts that will become evidence used to earn a badge. Also, this allows artifacts of skills, knowledge and dispositions to be used across multiple digital badges. This helps illuminate the interconnections between digital badges and prevent the compartmentalization of skills and knowledge.