Understanding what to Badge
Congratulations! You decided to embark on the journey of implementing Badges in your organisation. You and your team have already been through the basics, and know that badges typically include information about an accomplishment or achievement, as well as details about the issuer of the badge and other relevant metadata.
In order to understand what to badge in the context of Open Badges, it is important to consider the purpose and goals of the badge system. For example, an organisation might issue badges to recognize the completion of a course or certification program, to acknowledge an individual's expertise in a particular subject or field, or to recognize participation in a specific event or program. In each of these cases, the badges would be designed to serve a specific purpose and to provide value to the individuals who earn them.
In addition to considering the purpose of the badges, it is also important to think about the criteria that will be used to evaluate whether an individual is eligible to receive a badge. For example, an organisation might require individuals to pass a certain exam or to submit a portfolio of work in order to earn a badge. In order to ensure that the badges are meaningful and valuable, it is important to establish clear and rigorous criteria for earning a badge.
It is also important to think about the audience for the badges. Who will be receiving the badges, and how will they be using them? For example, badges that are issued by a university might be used by students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to potential employers. In this case, the badges would need to be designed in a way that is easily understood and recognised by employers.
Overall, understanding what to badge - or the Credentialing Framework - involves considering the purpose and goals of the badge system, the criteria for earning a badge, and the audience for the badges. By carefully considering these factors, organisations can design badge systems that are effective, meaningful, and valuable to the individuals who earn them.
Let's start by reviewing possible purposes and goals of the badge system.
Motivational badges are issued to individuals as a way of encouraging them to engage in certain activities or behaviors. These badges are often used in educational or learning contexts, where they can be used to encourage students to complete assignments, participate in class discussions, or engage in other activities that support their learning and development.
Motivational badges typically serve two main purposes. First, they provide a visual representation of an individual's progress or accomplishments, which can be a powerful motivator for some people. For example, a student who is working on a long-term project might be motivated to complete the project when they receive a badge that represents their progress.
Second, motivational badges often include rewards or incentives that are associated with earning the badge. For example, an institution might offer a reward, such as extra credit, to students who earn a certain number of badges. This can provide additional motivation for individuals to engage in the desired activities.
Skills badges are issued to individuals to acknowledge their proficiency or expertise in a particular area. These badges may be issued by any kind of organisation, and may be used to recognise a wide range of skills, for example technical, interpersonal, leadership, or project management skills.
Skills badges are usually designed to provide evidence of an individual's skills and abilities. In order to earn a skills badge, individuals typically need to demonstrate their skills through a combination of exams, portfolios, observations, or other forms of evaluation.
There are many different ways to evaluate skills in order to award badges. The specific method used will depend on the type of skill being evaluated and the context in which the evaluation is taking place. Here are a few examples of how skills might be evaluated:
- Written or practical exams: In many cases, skills can be evaluated by administering a written or practical exam that tests an individual's knowledge and ability in a particular area. For example, a certification program might require candidates to take a written exam in order to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a specific field.
- Portfolios or work samples: In some cases, skills can be evaluated by reviewing an individual's portfolio of work or other samples of their output. For example, a graphic design program might require students to submit a portfolio of their work in order to demonstrate their design skills.
- Observation or performance evaluations: In some cases, skills can be evaluated by observing an individual as they perform a specific task or activity. For example, a teacher might observe a student-teacher in the classroom in order to evaluate their teaching skills.
- Self-assessment: In some cases, individuals may be asked to evaluate their own skills using a self-assessment tool or questionnaire. This can be a useful way to gather information about an individual's skills and abilities, but it is important to ensure that the self-assessment is reliable and valid.
Achievement badges are issued to individuals to recognise their accomplishments. These badges may be used to recognize a wide range of achievements, including completing a course or certification program, achieving a certain level of performance or excellence, or participating in a specific event or program. An achievement badge may also be used to recognise improved performance, for example if a student has significantly improved their grades over a course of study, demonstrating effort and perseverance.
Achievement badges are typically designed to provide evidence of an individual's accomplishments and achievements, and they may be used in a variety of ways. For example, a student who has earned an achievement badge might include it on their resumé or online profile in order to demonstrate their achievements to potential employers. Similarly, an employer might use achievement badges to identify qualified candidates for job openings or to recognize the accomplishments of their employees.
In order to earn an achievement badge, individuals typically need to demonstrate their achievements through a combination of exams, peer reviews, observations, or other forms of evaluation. The specific criteria for earning an achievement badge will vary depending on the issuing organisation and the type of achievement being recognised. The evaluation process can be similar to that of Skills - see examples of the 4 evaluation methods above.
Employers who are keen to diversify their workforce, or demonstrate social responsibility towards under-served communities, may issue Flag Badges, celebrating those who may be assisting the organisation in reaching its social goals. One way to flag particular communities of interest using digital badges is to issue special badges to individuals who are members of these communities. For example, if an organisation is working to support individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, or from a country in a state of war, it could issue badges to members of these communities to recognise their participation and engagement in the organisation's programs and activities.
To earn the badge, individuals would need to demonstrate eligibility as a base line, and possibly also their commitment to improving their own lives and the lives of others in their community. This could be done through a variety of methods, such as submitting documentation of status, completing a certain number of activities related to the organisation's programs, attending meetings or events, or contributing to discussions or projects related to the organisation's goals and objectives.
Once an individual has earned the badge, they can display it on their online profile or resume, to flag their status and their commitment to their community. This can help to raise awareness of the organisation and its work, but it can also provide recognition and validation for the individuals who are members of these groups.
It is worth noting that different authors use different terminologies for badge categories. For example, Clements, West and Hunsaker (2020), also refer to Knowledge Badges, Certification Badges, Social or Life Skills Badges, Participation Badges and Identity Badges. Essentially, the categories above overlap with the categories defined by Clements et al., but we acknowledge that this varying terminology around digital credentialling can make understanding digital badges more complicated for the novice badge issuer.
How to create a strong credentialing framework?
To help in the process of creating a sturdy, scalable credentialing framework, we invite you to refer to five key evaluation principles
- Value - How will the digital badge have value for the earner?
- Rigor - How rigorous are the award processes in the organisation? Are badge earning criteria clearly defined and adhered to?
- Impact - How will digital credentials influence your organisation's goals and performance?
- Trust - How will you ensure quality and transparency in your credentialing practices?
- User Experience - How will you ensure usability and accessibility for the stakeholders involved?
These principles were developed within an ICoBC group, led by Rupert Ward, to set accreditation criteria for qualification providers. They were further consolidated in conversations with the BadgEurope team, around the role of Open Badges for both learners and qualification providers.
|Value||The award is able to demonstrate value to the person. This value can be identified as an achievement or credibility within a group or organisation||The award is able to demonstrate value to the person. This value can be identified as an achievement or credibility across a group or set of organisations||The award is able to demonstrate value to the person. This value can be identified as an achievement or credibility at a national or international level|
|Rigor||The award processes are demonstrated to be rigorous within the organisation. For example, through robust award processes.||The award processes are demonstrated to be rigorous across organisations. For example, through providing externally verifiable evidence.||The award processes are demonstrated to be rigorous at a national or international level. For example, through evidence of scalability and interoperability.|
|Impact||Impact has been demonstrated within the organisation||Impact has been demonstrated across organisations||Impact has been demonstrated at a national or international level|
|Trust||Award technologies and processes are trusted within the organisation. For example, through documented and traceable processes.||Award technologies and processes are trusted across organisations. For example, through externally verifiable and identifiable processes.||Award technologies and processes are trusted at a national or international level. For example, through scalable and interoperable processes.|
|User Experience||The award provides a rewarding user experience within the organisation. For example, by applying learning.||The award provides a rewarding user experience across organisations. For example, by sharing learning.||The award provides a rewarding user experience at a national or international level. For example, by synergising learning.|