Improving the Rigor of Open Badges

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Transcript of Improving the Rigor of Open Badges

Slide 1

Enough with Weak Sauce Badges!


Image by Shutterstock Daniel L. Randall & Richard E. West

We should talk about signaling powerDigital Promise as a good example.1

Badges as Legitimate CredentialsWhen you first said badges, I had such a bad impression of what that would mean.


Pic of gamification, points/leveling up, etc., youre a winner! Trophy.2

Merit Badges and Digital Badges

Boy Scout Merit Badges

Digital Badge

- Acknowledge accomplishment- Display skills gained- Motivation- Enable feedback/teaching from adult mentors

Typically not sharable -Acknowledge accomplishment -Motivation -Gamification -Enable feedback on specific skills -

Open Badges

Open Badges

Same Affordances as Digital Badges, Plus: - Uses Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI)- Display badges via web- Metadata (Criteria and Evidence links)

Open Badge Information

Mozilla Backpack

Backpack CollectionMultiple collections can be created.

Collections can remain private or can be made public and shared.

Badgers Talking with BadgersJoseph (2014) argued the badging community needs to talk less with skeptics and more with each othertalking about how to improve the badging movement.


Svenwerk on flickr

Value of BadgesCC BY-SA Class Hack A badge is only as good as:

The Rigor attached to it. The process used to evaluate the learners work.

Its usefulness to students and/or stakeholders.

How can we increase Badge Value?

Badge TypesGlobal vs. Local Systems

Badge weight


Badge SystemsLocal badge ecosystem - intended only for the persons learning space

Global Badge ecosystem - stretches beyond learning space; allows badges to be used as a credential

Badging systems can be designed to offer both types of valuesvalue within an organization and value to those outside itbut, the required features and networks are different (Joseph, para 6).


Not the same!

Badge Weight

BYUBy Flickr user winnifredxoxo

Lightweight BadgesBadges issued for:


creating a login

simply existing as a learner.


Funny picture: congratulations! Youre alive.14

Argument for Lightweight badgesCasilli (2014) argued that accretion, or the layering effect of badges over time, produces value.

Value to emerge in unexpected ways from the accumulated effect of many different lightweight badges.

Thus, lightweight badges may not be as meaningful individually, but taken together they paint a fuller picture of the individuals interests and activities (Knight, 2014).


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Badge Inflation

CC BY-SA Class Hack Mass awarding of badges with little or no assessment of work.

Or criteria so easy and short everyone earns the badge.Carpet Badging

Counter Argument: The Challenge of Lightweight

BYUAccretion? Whos got time for that?


Focusing on the wrong thing

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Typo top of page 11 in article too late?18



How many have kept every completion certificate they have earned?

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Jordan Crowe on flickr

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Misplaced Focus


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The Problem with Lightweight BadgesPoor Public impression of badges

If the badging community does not show how open badges and their assessment processes can be rigorous and meaningful, then the badging movement may fade away.


Any examples of similar things that have faded away?23

Weightier Badges

Digital Promise

Supporter to ReporterSubstantial motivational power for students (Tran, Schenke, & Hickey, 2014)

Badges as Legitimate Credentials


Lots of Credentials in Formal EducationDegrees only awarded after a long period of time or a great deal of experience

Transcripts have lots of information, but how useful is that information?


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How Valuable are Transcripts?What does 200 mean? Is it equal to or less difficult than a 400-level class?

Course name: what skills are covered?

What does the grade B mean? Average on everything?Did really well on some things and poorly on others?If so, what things did they do well?

Course #Course NameGradeCS 200Web ProgrammingB

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Badges as Micro-credentialsReceive recognition for smaller chunks of learning

Easier to communicate skills to employers and other interested parties

Metadata makes data open, providing greater insights into persons skills (viewer could even re-grade the submitted project if they wanted to)

Removing metadata weakens the potential of badges


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Badges and Informal LearningReceive recognition skills gained in informal and non-traditional settings

Combined with badges issued in formal education, badges provide a fuller picture of a persons skills

Vetted badges issued by others could be accepted by a professor or university, allowing the student to spend more time of topics they do not know, or provide a shorter path to graduation


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Proposed Solutions to Bolster Badging


Badges and GamificationUse something other than badges to gamify learning (points, levels, ranks, upgrades, etc.)

Reserve badges for achievements and skills that have value outside of the learning environment


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Badges and Gamification 2 Types of BadgesFirst type of badges (lightweight) is only used in the learning environment; are not exportable

Second type (weightier badges) recognize significant work and learning; these are exportable

Less desirable option, because2 Badge types could create confusionContinues to proliferate lightweight badges


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Rigor of Badge CreationCriteria for earning the badge must have weight.

Number of criteria and difficulty of each criterion.


Rigor of Badge AssessmentAssessment process should provide learners with specific, formative feedback that allows learners to reach the level of mastery.

This is not only important for learning, but also gives the badge more credibility as a legitimate credential.

If the criteria are rigorous, but the assessment process is not, it can still result in lightweight badges.


Badge ConsortiumsUniversities, professional organizations, and other trusted groups could join together to issue badges

Could ensure badges issued through consortium had weight

Greater number of badges issued, increasing brand Recognition


Randall, D. L., Harrison, J. B., & West, R. E. (2013). Giving credit where credit is due: Designing Open Badges for a technology integration course. TechTrends, 57(6), 8895.

Davies, R., Randall, D., & West, R. E. (2015). Using Open Badges to Certify Practicing Evaluators. American Journal of Evaluation, 36(2), 151163. doi:10.1177/1098214014565505

West, R. E., & Randall, D. L. (in-press). The Case for Rigor in Badges. In L. Muilenburg & Z. Berge (Eds.), Digital Badges in Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases. Routledge.Daniel L. Randall dan.randall26@gmail.comRichard E. West



Contact us with Questions

Thank YouDaniel L. Randall E. West