Today I’m going to discuss badges, and nope, not the ones which are worn and collected by boy or girl Scouts, I’m talking about the digital type, though it would be wise to point out that digital badges are actually somewhat modelled after this type of Scout badging system.
Similar to a physical badge, which signifies the completion of a task or an acquired skill level, digital badges can be used to visually display a wide variety of skills and competencies online. Digital badges also take principles from video game design as they can be used as a reward for completion of a task or a means to unlock additional tasks (that must be completed in sequential order).
So, now that we know a little more about what digital badges are, why would we want to use them in higher education? Well, there has been a significant amount of research over the past ten years. With interest in how digital badges expand online student motivation, engagement, tracking, and an overall sense of achievement and recognition. Throw all of this in the mix and then add a pinch of the current world climate and we have a fairly strong basis to enhance our virtual learning environment (VLE) with the use of digital badges.
As an institution, we utilise Blackboard as our VLE, which means every member of staff has the option to incorporate digital badges into their courses. Although one major detail that I need to make clear is that Blackboard’s offering of digital badges is officially referred to as ‘Blackboard Achievements’ – that’s probably really important to point out.
So, whenever you hear the term digital badges and blackboard – all you need to remember is the ‘Blackboard Achievements’ tool.
So “how do they work”?
Firstly, with the Blackboard Achievement tool, you can designate a multitude of different criteria for issuing digital badges to students directly from each of your courses. Essentially the achievements tool allows you to create and then define any “triggers” or actions that students must complete in their course to be awarded a badge of your design. Some of the common activities that can be used as “triggers” are:
- Having students use the “Mark as Reviewed” feature for any content or learning module
- Obtaining a specific grade on an assignment or test
- Posting to the discussion board, a blog, wiki, etc…
- Having a high level of attendance within an online register
As well as giving students a rewards-driven incentive to learning. Digital badges in Blackboard also improves the use of the ‘Performance Dashboard’ tool, which gives staff more detail into online student engagement and tracking.
When badges are created and used within a course, it will enable students to see which badges they have earned and what is required to receive additional recognition. Here all students can gain insight into the following:
- Developing a rewards-driven incentive for learning
- Using the badges as a framework, to encourage them to explore and participate more
- Give more understanding into learning progression to defined competencies so they can see what they need to do to achieve more
For more information about using Blackboard Achievements please use the following videos and resources:
If you would like any further information about Digital Badges or other learning technologies, please contact your Learning Technologist via Ask LTD