Digital Badges

IMAG0230This month at Tinker, we learned about digital badging, a new way to motivate patrons and help them document their own learning experiences.

A digital badge is a digital file awarded to a learner that will help them represent their experiences and accomplishments online.  Think about scouting troops and how they earn badges– participants select their own learning pathways based off of their interests and earn badges to represent their expertise to others.  It is basically used as a micro-credential.

When we take this badging idea online, all sorts of really important affordances emerge that weren’t available in a cloth badge.  For instance, you can infuse the digital image of the badge with lots of juicy metadata so that the badge carries important information with it as it is shared across the web.  The badge can tell you who issued the badge, who earned the badge, when the badge expires, and it can even link back to evidence of what the learner did to achieve that badge.

This is great for learners, because they have ways to represent learning that, until now, has gone unnoticed.  In this day and age, you can learn anything, anywhere, at anytime, but still educational degrees set the bar for evidence of learning.  Badges are changing this paradigm for the better.

Badges are also really great for libraries, because they can provide us with quantifiable and qualitative evidence of learning outcomes.  This means that we can see the number of people engaging in different activities, what exactly they are doing in these activities, and how they are sharing them after they are awarded.  That’s a lot of really valuable data.

So when we create digital badges for our patrons to earn, we have the opportunity to help patrons tell the story of their own learning, and the patrons help us tell the story of what libraries are doing in their communities.

During the presentation at Tinker, we talked about different approaches to creating badge systems, some important things to consider when building a plan for how the badges will work, and then technology tips for taking your system online.

Check out the presentation below, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to


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