What is a badge?
The term ‘badges’ might bring to mind the Boy Scouts of America to mind before it does eLearning, but a badge is in the simplest sense an indicator of achievement. Digital badges are images offered on the internet, and are displayed by an individual to illustrate proficiency in a certain subject, attaining a certain skill or as proof of performing a certain task. Badges can be used to motivate behaviour, establish credibility and confirm competency for a role.
Originally brought in to reward users for achievements on instructional sites digital badge systems such as those offered by Mozilla OpenBadges or BadgeOs are elements of gamification (buzzword of 2014) providing a sense of achievement for learners. That said, it seems digital badges are evolving to be slightly more.
Why should I be interested in badges?
What makes digital badges different from other achievements comes down to 2 key aspects of digital badges:
- Transferability: Digital badges from multiple sources can be brought together into what’s called a badge backpack, where they can be displayed. This means that skills improved or acquired through job training, eLearning or any system that provides badges can be exhibited to anyone interested in your accomplishments.Interestingly, it should soon be possible to integrate digital badges into LinkedIn profiles so prospective employers (or customers) can see any proficiencies you have earned.
- Verification: Digital badges are displayed as images, however they also contain hard-coded metadata that includes the badge criteria, issuer and verifying evidence.
Digital badges can be displayed anywhere (as they are just images), and the existence of ‘badge backpacks’ further allows users to collate and present all their badges in a single location. The potential of digital badges as a new method of skill authentication is extensive; in many industries we would not be surprised to see it take over (at least make good ground on) mainstream qualifications.
Who is using digital badges?
Many (mainly tech-based) companies are already using and offering digital badges. However there isn’t a restriction to online performance; digital badges could be issued to everyone who takes a classroom course, or even to those who participate in charity work. Just because a badge is issued and stored online doesn’t mean that badges can only apply to online activities.
Digital badges can be altered to have levels or expiration dates. For example, if a tax professional completes a tax update course and receives a badge that expires in 6 months from the course end date, another update course may be needed to renew the validity of the badge. Renewal of badges is a great way to show and publically verify that certain professionals who need to keep on top of information are doing so. This type of badge system has potential for positive impacts on industries and business sectors where:
- Customers are satisfied because a supplier, adviser or practitioner is up to date and giving the best possible advice or service, and;
- Authorities or regulatory bodies are happy because they can easily check on who is keeping up to date and who isn’t.
There is a wide variety of digital badges already in place ranging from simple participation badges to Khan Academy’s ‘Black Hole’ badges, which are virtually impossible to obtain.
The eLearning industry clearly has a lot to benefit from the roll-out of digital badge systems, and with no evident downside, it’s no wonder these systems are only growing in popularity.
If you are interested in finding out more about digital badges, or if you would like to know how Titan Learning uses digital badges then please do get in touch.