Digital badges fill in gaps for how we describe what scholars know and can do in the real world. Traditionally, most scholars only have a transcript of coursework to represent what they can do. Digital badges unbundle the competencies within both courses and workforce experiences to help fill in the gaps of larger credentials (e.g., degrees and certifications). This allows them to be more precise about what a learning is capable of accomplishing.
Why 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. First, 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. Second, 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. Last, 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.
Where did the badge graphics come from?
We wanted our digital badge graphics to represent the community we serve. This is why we recruited scholars from our Principles of Design 3 course to build our badge graphics. Each of these scholars took Principles of Design 1 and 2, which meant that they demonstrated competency with the necessary design and technology skill sets to produce the badge graphics. Teacher Aled Anaya supported scholars with using digital tools to create the digital badge graphics. They took the description of the badge expectations and evidence to ideate graphic designs. We love what they came up with! These graphics serve as the icon for the digital badges and are given out as physical stickers when scholars earn a badge.