In 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan endorsed digital badges as growing phenomena in the K-12 and higher education reform movement (Grant, 2014a; Tally, 2012; United States Department of Education, 2011). As an innovative technology, digital badges can be used to recognize accomplishments and achievements and may have a solid place in education because of the immediate feedback for graded and non-graded skills and competencies (Foster, 2014). As a disruptive technology, digital badges may emerge as motivational tools for 21st century learners because of inherent elements that are reminiscent of social media and gamification; two growing trends in today’s society (Johnson et al., 2013). Using badges in an online course can conceivably refresh distance teaching and learning for both the instructor and the student. According to Glover and Latif (2013), badges can be used for a number of purposes, for example, recognizing the completion of massive open online courses (MOOC), certifying informal learning experiences, and acknowledging the development of skills that are applicable to the workplace. Despite the educative aspect, digital badges also allow teachers to recognize and reward students for demonstrating higher order thinking, collaboration, and effective communication (Fontichiaro & Elkordy, 2014). In October 2014, the Badge Alliance distributed a survey to collect data about the impact and value of digital badges in higher education. The 55 participants included faculty, instructional technologists, curriculum designers, administrators, and academic support staff from North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Based on the findings, one can infer that more institutions will be designing and implementing badging systems in the near future (O’Shaughnessy, 2011). However, concerns still exist about the extent to which badges impact learning outcomes, students’ motivation, and overall achievement (Grant, 2014b).
Best, R. & Bobley, L. Experimenting with Digital Badges in an Online Graduate Education Course. In Distance Teaching & Learning Conference 2016: Official Conference Proceedings. Madison Wisconsin, US.