Open badges benefit a variety of people when incorporated into learning activities and portfolio building. Badges have the ability to clarify learning outcomes for students while validating the achievement of granular skills, knowledge and attitudes expected of students. The following outlines the value of badges for educators, students, employers, and the larger badge community
When designing a course or program, it is essential that the educators has a clear understanding of what students will be able to do when the course is finished. Articulating course objectives assists educators in identifying what is really worth learning within the scope of a topic and in creating assignments and activities that address the overall goals of the course or program. Badges can be a tool used to build successful learning environments.
Badges can assist in shifting the focus of a course or program from teaching to learning through the development of more granular criteria for assignments and activities. When implementing badges into a course or program, determining criteria for earning a badge can focus on taking a complex idea or theme in a course and breaking it down to specific skills, knowledge or behaviours needed to be successful in the larger learning objective. The process of creating meta-literacy badges can act as stepping stones for students in tracking their achievements within a course or program but also in understanding how their learning connects to the larger objectives.
Badges have a number of benefits for students but one of the most meaningful is the ability for students to articulate what they have achieved within a course or program in a defined and shareable way. If designed well, badges can be a concise representations of learning accomplishments. Badge criteria and evidence can be made publicly viewable, allowing students to highlight their abilities in a way that a course credit or paper certificate cannot. Sharing a badge on social media can assist students in developing a learning story that can be shared to family, friends, educators, and employers.
Thousands of graduates have a certificate indicating they completed degree requirements. In practice, employers, start-ups, and volunteer organizations have difficulty distinguishing one graduate from the other. Degrees on their own do not necessarily convey the skills, experience, or expertise of individuals. Badge collections can convey a detailed picture of the graduate that can be authenticated through the criteria and evidence associated to the badge.
The ability for employers to collaborate with educators in badge programs can help to identify the skills needed to be successful in career preparation and development. Additionally, these kinds of opportunities could benefit career transition and professional development programs.
The Badge Community
A major benefit to badges is the ability to connect knowledge, skills and achievement to a specific need within the external community. Public endorsement of badges that align with the values and needs of an organization creates a natural partnership between stakeholders of a badge (e.g. educators, community partners, business, etc.). It also assists badge earners in directing their own learning by selecting badges that have the most value for achieving their goals.
Badges in this context can:
- develop a collaborative approach to education that addresses both academic, local community and market needs
- validate competencies, skills and attitudes at a more granular level than a transcript or degree
- provide a strategic approach for badge earners in developing their learning portfolio
- promote an open ecosystem and badge-based learning