eXact Learning Solutions (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 7809-7815
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0712
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The utilization of digital badges for recognizing learner achievement and providing digital credentialing is one of the most rapidly growing areas in the field of e-Learning. As interest in badging has grown, the lack of democratization of information and knowledge from the top of the movement has created several challenges and obstacles for the practitioners depended upon to execute badging strategies for their respective organizations. This paper will examine the common problems associated with introducing digital badging as a solution to an organization as well as sharing the lessons learned from two digital badging project use cases.

Common challenges and recommended techniques for addressing them:
The language and cultural stigma around the term “badge” and the overall appropriateness for badging as a credentialing and identity solution has kept several badging initiatives from reaching the point of a kickoff meeting. Some tips to consider for addressing these challenges include:
• Provide relevant case studies to potential project stakeholders early in the formation of the solution to start building a foundation of shared knowledge, language, relevance, and trust
• Highlight that the language is currently evolving to be better suited for a broader audience of adopters
• Empathize with the challenges of language and culture and share your own reactions the first time you were introduced to badging

Another restrictive challenge is positioning badging within the field of e-Learning as compared to traditional e-Learning, current online certification programs, and current classroom certification programs. Some tips to consider for addressing these challenges include:
• Emphasize the outcomes from badging mean more because…
• …they are based on evidence as opposed to online multiple-choice exams
• Explain how the badge metadata contains more information about an achievement than any paper-based certificate could ever offer

The shallow depth of knowledge and lack of readily available resources on how to plan, manage, and execute a badging initiative is perhaps the most significant challenge of all. Until a broad scale strategy comes together to democratize this information to other practitioners, this obstacle will likely remain in place.

Case studies and lessons learned:
The first case study presents how a regional university and a state law enforcement training agency partnered to use digital badging to create degree and career pathways for police officers, firefighters, jail officers, and dispatchers. It focuses on how to communicate business value to key stakeholders involved in a large-scale badging initiative and how to address the diverse cultural factors that comes with having stakeholders from two very different sectors.

The second case study presents how digital badging was used to create a statewide teacher remediation program covering the ten core competencies expected for in-service classroom teachers. It focuses on the instructional design and project scaling strategies implemented to launch a large-scale badging program that integrates several different sources for both subject matter expertise and content development.

The field of digital badging provides a tremendous potential value for both earners and the organizations that they are connected to or looking to be part of. Practitioners and stakeholders alike must connect and share their experiences to ease the pain of fellow early adopters.
Digital badges, learning strategies, communicating value propositions, knowledge democratization.