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Digital Badges & Learning

digital-badges-and-learning

A digital badge is an indicator of a skill or accomplishment that is accessed, displayed, and verified online. A digital badge has become the term for any online credential. However, this isn’t true as digital badges are just a subset of online credentials.

You see, digital badges are just one part of the greater credentialing environment. There are a variety of ways to recognise achievement, and there are many forms of proof of these achievements. A digital badge plays the role of both an achievement as well as proof of the achievement.

How to define digital credentials

Digital credentials are the digital form of a physical credential. Digital credentials range from passports, licenses, concert tickets, online certifications, and more. To put it simply, they are the digital version of traditional paper based credentials and represents proof of completion, clearance, competence or qualification. Digital credentials should always be verifiable, much like their traditional counterparts, and should contain the individual’s details, their credentials, and when it expires (if necessary).

Industry Confusion Relating to Digital Badges

Due to the variety of credentials and the array of industries taking them on, it is sometimes difficult to determine what a digital credential means. Many IT industries consider a user ID as a credential while the eLearning industry notes digital credentials as the online version of a paper certificate used as proof for course competency or completion.

Due to the variety of credentials and the array of industries taking them on, it is sometimes difficult to determine what a digital credential means. Many IT industries consider a user ID as a credential while the eLearning industry notes digital credentials as the online version of a paper certificate used as proof for course competency or completion.

Digital Credential Categories

Digital Certificates

Digital certifications don’t require a proctored exam in order to receive them. Usually, digital certificates are rewarded for the completion of a seminar or course. They are the digital equivalent of a certificate of a group, association, or membership.

Test Based Digital Credentials

As the name suggests, a test based digital credential is issued to a person who proves competency in a subject through an exam. This exam is usually done online, however, in some cases learners do go to test centres to complete their exam. Test based certifications are similar to online certificates, but the difference is that they require an exam. A test based digital credential is associated with higher stake credentials.

Digital Badges

Digital badges have become all the rage in eLearning communities, and they are still in the early stage of growth. Digital badges can be awarded for higher stake accomplishments, while they may also be given out for lower stake tasks such as viewing a video or completing a training program. Badges have a unique look, while digital certificates and test-based digital credentials look like their traditional paper counterparts.

Digital Badges: The Beginning

It was only in 2011 when digital badges came onto the radar, this was when Peer 2Peer University and the Mozilla Foundation introduced a paper called “An Open Badge System Framework.”

The paper defined a badge as an indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. The paper also stated that they have been successfully used to motivate behaviours, set goals, and communicate success. The paper also touched on the importance of the badges context as opposed to its design. It is about the information each badge represents, serving as validation and justification of the badge. This point highlights the importance of information behind the badge, how it was earned, when it was earned, who issued it, and evidence examples of the work that went into earning the badge.

The Mozilla Foundation went on to create an open technical standard that was called “Open Badges,” which was the system that issued, collected and displayed digital badges across different websites. Then the world was introduced to the Open Badge Standard…

In 2012, open Badges 1.0 was launched and in just a year there were over 1450 organisations issuing badges. In 2014 The Badge Alliance was launched. This is a network of individuals and organisations that are committed to advancing Open Badges.

Unpacking the Digital Badge

The information behind the digital badge design, as mentioned previously, is its most essential element. These badges have meta-data which communicates the details of the badge to any person wanting to verify it and what it signifies. The meta data holds information such as: who the badge belongs to, who issued the badge, and the criteria that came with being awarded this badge.

Required Information to be Open Badge Compliant:

  • Badge Name
  • Badge Criteria
  • Badge URL
  • Date Issued
  • Issuer
  • Recipient
  • Other meta data that is optional includes:

  • Alignments
  • Additional Issuer Information
  • Expiration Date
  • Evidence URL
  • Tags
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