Learning objectives. When the student earns the badge,
what will it symbolize in terms of what the student has
learned and can now do? In other words, when a third
party looks at this badge, what can they deduce about the
student’s skills and abilities? To maximize accountability,
a learning objective might be a Common Core State Standard or a single skill excerpted from a larger standard.
Performance task/required evidence of learning. What
specific task or outcome did the student have to complete
to earn the badge? Was the evidence of learning hosted online, where a viewer can see it? Or was evidence observed
by the mentor or teacher? Apply the Goldilocks Principle:
You want a task that’s “just right” in scope and difficulty.
A project that is too long may have too many parts for
someone to be able to point to the specific skills being
developed. One that is too difficult or impossible to attain without significant adult intervention will discourage
learners from trying. On the flip side, a project that is too
simple (such as an assignment to bring in a current events
article) will generate a flood of submissions without developing a specific skill and may lead students to view badges
as a competition, not a learning activity. In some cases, students may not view your badges as something of value and
may not be motivated to engage in the process.
Levels-related badges. Just like video games, where unlocking a level gives you access to new tools or privileges, badges can serve as prerequisites or gateways to other, more
complex badges. Some badges, when bundled together,
could culminate in a kind of “metabadge.”
Digital Badging in Action
What might digital badging look like in your classroom?
Let’s consider an example from the English language arts
portion of the Common Core State Standards:
W. 9-10. 7 Gather relevant information from multiple
authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced
searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each
source in answering the research question; integrate
information into the text selectively to maintain the
flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
This standard bundles together several implicit skills,
including searching, determination of authority, resource
utility, note-taking, synthesis, idea flow, original scholarship, and citation. This is too broad for a single badge, as
a student skilled in most but not all areas would go unbadged, reducing motivation. Therefore, let’s narrow the
focus to citation.
Chart Your Own Path
Check out these resources to learn more about
• To take badging for a spin, create an account at badg.us
and enter the code 73v9mv to earn your first badge and
unlock access to additional resources.
• Learn about the Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure at
• Read more articles and resources about digital badging at
• Read blog posts about digital badging at
• Read about the connection between classroom rubrics
and badge systems at bit.ly/11TjJnv.
There are many free systems to choose from. Badg.us is
an open source platform, and For All Badges (forallbadges.
com) is free for individual teachers.
We recommend using a badging system built on Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI). The OBI is a framework for organizing badge data that allows your students
to easily move their earned badges from your system into
others, particularly into Mozilla’s free individual “
backpacks” ( openbadges.org). Badges’ interoperability reduces
the historic disconnect between institutions, as badging
credentials from multiple sites can appear in students’
backpacks as long as they are issued by an OBI-compliant
But what information goes into creating a digital badge?
To start, a digital badge is an image. Depending on the
badging platform you use, you may choose from the system’s prepopulated collection of graphics, import a Creative Commons image, use a badge-design tool like the
one the Chicago Summer of Learning Badge Studio uses
( toolness.github.io/chicago-badge-studio/studio.html), or
design your own.
Behind that image is metadata, a collection of information that travels with the image. This metadata (and don’t
worry, the badging system will prompt you for the information you need and then “bake” it all together) includes: