Serious Badging – Gamification needs to reach another level in Education

Over the past the word Gamification has been used to almost unbearable amounts when talking about the next big thing in education. Gamification will keep students more glued to their studies, more serious regarding their study goals and overall it’s going to be the swiss army knife to solve educational problems all over the world.

[Tweet “One of the ‘easiest’ or most common used tools when it comes to Gamification, of course, is the use of badges. #education “]

When I went to education & gamification workshops or seminars those badges usually were handed out like in, well, games. You achieve a certain level of a certain skill and then you’ll get a badge that shows that your, for example, Spanish is great. To be honest, I didn’t really like those ideas. Sure it works to a certain degree but should the neediness for badges be the motivator behind that? And, after reaching a certain age, do you really care about having cool badges on an online profile? I couldn’t care less how many badges or points I have on duolingo (still love that website and use it a lot) for example.

So do badges really help? While I thought “no” for quite some time I would change that answer now to ‘yes, why not’.

Enter “Open Badges”

Open Bades are basically image files that contain information about who earned them, what they had to do for it, when and who issued it. After a badge is earned it will be added to some kind of portfolio (backpack) and can later be added to certain clusters (for employers, for friends, etc.).

Open Badges have been developed by Mozilla in association with the MacArthur Foundation to provide a method of recognizing informal and lifelong learning.

Open Badges include information like:

  • The defined outcomes required to earn the badge and the evidence earners provided to demonstrate their competence
  • The qualifications of the learning provider, credential sponsor, or issuing organization and their trustworthiness
  • The relationship between the badge and larger programs, professional learning pathways, and/or larger skill sets
  • Verification of the badge earner’s identity and relevant, secure, trusted communications about their qualifications, competencies and skills 



Now the question: Is it only useful for informal education? Couldn’t there be potential for formal education as well? There already are a few good ideas out there that state that such badges might help to keep track of student achievements more easily. Having certain levels (e.g. bronze, silver, gold…) or keeping track of extra curricular success.

 When taking those thoughts a little bit further why not use badges for more?

So keeping track of stuff that does not show on a diploma sounds great. If there is some kind of general agreement on what you have to do to gain such a badge only of course. Otherwise it will be just like grades from different colleges that then will be compared in a different manner. You graduated from a college in the US so that’s better than a college in Thailand….

That then raises the question if standardization of such badges should be done. Or should it simply be something could be done by Unis on their own gusto?

Once that is out of the way I could imagine badges holding even more information. Why not having badges that resemble ones formal grades? Wouldn’t it be much cooler to show those badges (they don’t necessarily need to look as unprofessional as most do now) on a linkedin (or other online platforms) resume? Everybody would instantly know what you did and how you did it. Those badges could also contain more information and not only display a certain grade but also the skills and abilities gathered during a class.

[Tweet “Again though: Does “badging” then need standardization? #education”]

The possibilities that come along with Higher Education adopting the idea of badges are great indeed and I am more than curious to see what the future holds for us in those regards. Are Universities able and willing to implement badges? Will the speed of implementation be adequate? Will it be accepted? And, moreover, what are your thoughts?


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