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Academic Badge Initiatives
Badging in academic environments can often be complex as there are a variety of activities that occur on campus that support student and staff professional development and educational growth. Many of these activities are formalized within the university accreditation structure, such as coursework and degree programs, while other activities offer supportive services that enhance knowledge and skills to be successful in academia and beyond, such as research and writing services. The following outlines the variety of badging possibilities within an academic institution and how offering badging across formal and informal activities, can provide a clearer view of an individual’s abilities, skill sets, and knowledge.
An extra-curricular badge reflects an activity that takes place outside a curriculum. These activities often are associated to an area of interest or a hobby. These badges provide social capital for an individual by providing a community to interact with that have similar interests. On an academic campus, extra-curricular activities can include anything from involvement in a club to engaging in learning activities outside of the classroom that support an area of interest.
UBC’s Digital Tattoo project is an example of an extra-curricular badge. The DesignPrep program, offered via the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt and National Design Museum, is working to give high school students the opportunity to earn badges in skills relating to design, such as drafting, photography, and the ability to use 3D modeling software.
Extra-curricular badges stand at a slight remove from the agendas of academics although often are supportive of the soft skills and generalized knowledge needed to for success in the larger education and employment environment.
A co-curricular badge reflects skills and knowledge that complements a formal curriculum.
Co-curricular badges require the identification of skills or knowledge needed to fulfill curriculum requirements but may not be a part of the overall assigned activities. For example, research skills, digital literacy, or community service activities may be skills required to complete course work but are not officially assigned or graded activities.
Co-curricular badge can be found within the Master of Education Technology course ETEC 565M - Mobile Education and Video Game Law 423B. Outside UBC, the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program at the University of California at Davis offers co-curricular badges in skills such as interpersonal communication and systems thinking, which are issued in conjunction with a degree.
Curricular badges can be difficult to implement as they may be subject to a lengthy approval process from institutional bodies that oversee curriculum. An example of a curricular badge is Daniel Hickey's Big Open Online Course on Educational Assessment,which can be used as credit toward a degree at Indiana University.
Curricular badges are equivalent to a formal credential from an institution like UBC.