Mark DuBois
Professor Emeritus

Value of badges

I am using Moodle 2.5 and note that one can now include badges as part of the environment. These tie to the Mozilla Open Badge project. I am curious who is using badges in their curriculum and how well they are received. Obviously, we all receive badges as part of the Education Exchange.

I am planning to incorporate these in my fall classes. I am using Illustrator and Photoshop to create the badge (and properly size it) and Moodle to distribute them.

I do realize that one must have a good understanding of the psychology/ motivation behind offering students a badge for completing a given task. That being said, I am curious as to how this is being pursued by others (and what the results have been).


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Comments (16)

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Dawn Bradley

Posted on 5/31/16 11:21:36 PM Permalink

I am glad to see the dialogue about this. I have been asked to talk about my experiences with using badges in an upcoming professional development. I have made many notes as I have read through this thread.

Stephen Parsons

Posted on 5/13/16 12:04:29 PM Permalink

You may be interested in connecting with Don Presant ( who has been highly engaged in Badges since their inception and now writes the linked blog which is full of great references and information. Although he is a great enthusiast for badges, he also brings in the other side and his latest posts have referenced those who express reticence in using badges. You may also want to consider the big conference going on in Aurora this year - not much lead time I appreciate (June 24) but it might be something to attend if you can.

Mark DuBois

Posted on 5/13/16 2:14:56 PM Permalink

Hi Stephen:

Thanks for keeping this conversation going. I really appreciate your insights. I wish I could be in Aurora in June. However, I am running a national web design contest in Louisville that week.

Best always,

AJ Barse

Posted on 8/20/14 6:10:11 PM Permalink

This is something our institution is looking into as well. We are using Instructure's Canvas LMS, and evaluating their LTI's that implement Badges. What we are looking at digital badging for is a form of certification for unconventional or extracurricular course work. For instance, our Student Tech Center does workshops for the Creative Suite, it would be nice to be able to provide a digital badge that can follow the student (through our LMS) from class to class letting their instructors know what technologies they are "certified" in.

ellen flaherty

Posted on 4/25/14 12:56:59 AM Permalink

Interesting piece on one educators experience with creating a successful PD, badging, and tech integration system and why and how it worked. I especially love that she gave it all away ala Mike Skocko and his gamification curriculum.

Melissa Jones

Posted on 12/17/13 11:38:47 PM Permalink

I'm interested in how we can make badges useful for professional development.

Lynne Kesselman

Posted on 2/12/14 1:34:48 AM Permalink

Hi Melissa,

Having a way to view your EdEx profile and badges in a more condensed format would be helpful. I recently needed to "show off" my badges, and it would have been very great to see them all on one screen for a screen print (instead of scrolling down the page.

Colin Byers

Posted on 12/17/13 3:09:51 AM Permalink

We've recently updated to the latest build of Moodle and I too will be creating badges, for both staff and students. I think the incentive can work for all users! Using illustrator and ps for my badge builds. However, I am still considering what categories to have them for... any suggestions?

Derick Lourens

Posted on 8/12/13 5:27:58 AM Permalink

This is an interesting issue, and I will keep following this thread. I am also interested in motivating my students in a positive way, e.g. bookstore vouchers, no homework days, free time in the classroom...

The idea of badges sounds great. I will also do some research and let you know what I come up with.

Mark DuBois

Posted on 8/10/13 4:20:20 PM Permalink

Hi Mike:

Many thanks for the feedback (and varied views). I really appreciate your comments. I had the chance to discuss this very topic with Andy at the AEL Summer Institute. As you may suspect, I am taking baby steps, but I think there is some merit to pursuing. I will definitely keep this discussion up to date with any feedback received from students.

Yes, the badges must have perceived value. I liken them to the ones received in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts (at least I think they still offer them). One gets the behaviors one rewards. At least this is something I have observed in business. I definitely want to keep this discussion going and am keen to learn what others think as well.

Best always,

Mike Skocko

Posted on 8/10/13 4:29:22 PM Permalink

As the father of a Girl Scout currently working toward her Gold Award, I can assure you the Scouts still use badges.

As for the varied views, hey, I have to give all the voices in my head a chance to speak or they'll never shut up! ;)

Edit: I just noticed: ...but I think there is some merit to pursuing. You punster!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 8/9/13 11:42:59 PM Permalink

Hey Mark,

Fellow AEL, Andy Phelps from RIT, is a wealth of information regarding the psychology and research surrounding badges in edu. He's registered on the AEE, but not active. (You know how to get hold of him.)

From what I understand, badges are best used when there's meaning, significance, and fun attached to them. You've got to tap intrinsic motivation and never, ever tie them to grades or other extrinsic levers.

The problem with badges here on the AEE is that they really serve no purpose. A little fun reward or perk attached to certain badges, number of badges, or specific assortment of badges might spice things up a bit and promote deeper engagement. (That's what you want, right?) But nothing big or you cross the line from fun to material goods -- from fundamentally intrinsic rewards to definite extrinsic motivation.

The line between the two gets fuzzy.

We'll be giving badges and achievements a go this year and the only experience I have to compare it with is the "Gold" awarded last year for mastering material. Students used their gold for silly things like homework passes, controlling my playlist in class, and the right to play online games for a day. I did, however, also "sell" prints for gold. (Students bought the right to print original work on our Epson 9880.) Did that cross the line? (I personally don't think so, but it seems to approach it.)

If Adobe gave away little gadgets or T-shirts or other bling for badges, that would be cool and probably spur engagement. But the computers and tablets and software need to stay out of it. The research is counter-intuitive but pretty darn conclusive.

Does that make sense?

I'm interested to hear what you and others think.

Mark DuBois

Posted on 8/9/13 2:12:57 PM Permalink

Aaron - thanks for the feedback. Yes, I reviewed Mike's discussion. I should have included a link to that. Thanks for doing so. My hope is to focus on the issue of badges themselves in the discussion thread.

For what it is worth, I have already received a positive comment from a former student (I posted a note about this on my weblog).

Mike Skocko

Posted on 8/10/13 12:18:37 AM Permalink


After reviewing the post on your weblog and thinking about your question in terms of Mozilla's Open Badges Project, I'm having commenter's remorse about the info in my entry ^ above yours.

If I may rebut myself... ;)

The Open Badges Project seems to be tied directly to both intrinsic AND extrinsic motivators. It's also, I believe, a precursor to the legitimization of Open Ed and MOOCs as an acceptable alternative to traditional education pathways.

I know you work in higher ed but I also know you have keen insights into current tech trends as well as intimate knowledge of the slings and arrows of the American university system.

I wonder. Might you be plotting to pioneer a pathway to prosperity for the masses? If so, your secret, good sir, is safe with me.

And with the 96,083 other members of the Secret Society of the Adobe Education Exchange whom I have contacted personally and sworn to secrecy.

Carry on.

Aaron Roberts

Posted on 8/9/13 9:33:02 AM Permalink

There seems to be a lot of plugins for different CMS's out there that use Mozilla's OBI. I'm going to tackle badges maybe half way through this year. Too much going on to do it at the beginning of the year. I know there are a number of resources here on the Exchange. I'm sure you've seen Mike Skocko's resource HERE. Lots of information! Good luck, I'm interested to see what you come up with.