Badges in the Workplace, Badges in the Classroom

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

Rob Wiltbank (@robwiltbank) recently shared this article in the Twitter feed on our sidebar (If you didn’t know, tag any of your tweets with #askccit and it will show up here).  In the article for Extreme Networks, Bob Nilsson reports the results of a recent survey about digital badges. If you aren’t familiar with the term, just think of digital badges as an upgraded form of the old-fashioned scout badges. The difference, though, is that they aren’t limited just to the Scouts, and instead of sewing them on to your uniform, you include them in your e-portfolio. They provide a verifiable method of tracking an applicant’s skills and accomplishments.

The survey found that only  “38% of organization use or plan to use digital badges” but that 66% “believe that digital badges have a positive impact”. Nilsson also points out that influential companies, such as Google, have jumped on the badge band wagon, hinting that the use of digital badges will likely grow.

Inspired by José Bowen’s ideas about gamifying the classroom, I’ve been using badges for the first time in my class this semester with the help of ClassBadges.com. Although my badges aren’t official transcript-worthy credentials, such as those discussed by Nilsson, I think they motivate students to keep on trucking by offering incremental rewards for incremental achievements. And, if official badges are the way of the future for hiring organizations, I might as well get students used to them now.

Have you used badges or something similar in your class? What do you think about the Chronicle of Higher Education’s claim (cited by Nilsson) that badges “act as a transcript, CV, and work portfolio all rolled together into one cool digital package. Even beyond that, badges can structure the process of education itself. Compared with the new open badge systems, the standard college transcript looks like a sad and archaic thing”?

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