Creating a Badging Program

A badge program is a system that allows your users to earn digital badges in recognition of your accomplishments. Badges can earn badges by completing tasks, passing tests, or achieving other milestones. You can then share their badges with others, visually representing their skills and accomplishments.

The term used to describe people and things associated with badging can confuse new organizations developing a system. In a nutshell, the procedure for open badges entails first creating the badge image and its data (such as requirements, recommendations, and standards and then uploading this to a platform for issuing badges.

Stage 1: System Design

As the number of badges and earners rises, so does the complexity of a badge program. Planning the larger system that individual badges and earners will be a part of is crucial for this reason. This involves considering the number of topics a program will cover, the number of badges associated with each topic, and the resources available to carry out the design.

  • System’s reach: The challenge of deciding which competencies will be represented is one that every badging initiative faces. We recommend that badging programs start small by concentrating on a few core skills, despite designing a larger system for future growth.
  • Workflow: How badges are formatted and which badge platform should be used will influence how program participants find and earn badges. Is it necessary to incorporate the evaluation process into an existing workflow? How will those who earn badges find out what is available? How will earners and evaluators interact with one another? If they answered such questions, it would help in direct future decision-making. It might be beneficial to think broadly about the system metaphor you’re looking for.
  • Determine the participants: Initiatives for badges frequently start with a specific group of earners in mind. For instance, designing the badges might be beneficial. Equally crucial is considering how those administering the badge program may change and how the system’s administration can continue during this change.
  • Resources: How are those resources, besides personnel, offered to implement the badge program? For instance, You might need money to update the badges when they become outdated or hire someone to review and award them. Will access to these resources be continuous? Do those who evaluate badge requirements need any special training? How will the online hosting of badge evidence work? Each of these choices can influence the resources needed for the badge program. For instance, requiring human expert grading of the evidence may increase rigor but increase costs. Investigating peer review and other forms of crowdsourcing to determine the “cost” of badge reviewing may prove useful.

Stage 2: Designing the Badges 

The most prominent part of an open badge is its image, so designing one requires much more than just producing a specific graphic. Designers must decide what the badge entails, define the metadata values, and plan how learners will fulfill the badge’s requirements.

  • Badge range: Open badges can represent a wide range of abilities or experiences, but most badges are made to highlight particular personal talents or achievements. 
  • Metadata: Each open badge contains metadata that includes the badge’s name, description, requirements, issuer details, supporting documentation, date of issuance, and other fields. Most tools help you to identify the metadata fields required for the badging program. 
  • Picture badges: Although a badge’s metadata frequently describes its significance, the badge’s image is what people see when they first see it. According to one study, less appealing badge images can reduce a program’s credibility as a whole (Dyjur & Lindstrom, 2017). While creating the badge, some platforms even let the user generate potential images. Alternatively, users can create and download badge images using tools 
  • Educational resources: Open badges frequently link to larger competency-based learning initiatives. Badges typically have metadata that explains the requirements or competencies that earners must meet. Still, they do not typically have instructions on completing those requirements (i.e., they show you what you need to do but do not provide training on how to do it). To assist potential earners in acquiring the required skills, we advise that a badge program or badge offer guides or references outside the badge metadata. A learning management system or website that supports and goes along with the badges can be this.
  • Directing a team: In many badge systems, the badges are created and managed by a team. All badges can be uniform by providing a clear framework for team members. A study discovered that by emphasizing effective training of undergraduate badge designers, these newer designers could produce badge rubrics and designs that were just as good as those produced by more seasoned professionals.

Phase 3: Publication

Using tools like CertifyMe you can publish your badge, and users can receive it after completing an event. Many platforms are available for this purpose; a comprehensive list of platforms for issuing open badges and micro-credentials that fully comply with the OBI 2.0 specification is available.

  • Selecting the platform: Every platform for issuing open badges is different. Before choosing which platform to implement your program, we advise reviewing several. Create one or two badges on each platform to get a feel for your program’s functions. When choosing, keep the following factors in mind:
  • Workflow: Create a badge on the platform. Take a demo to ensure the platform is well for your badging program. The platform you are considering should be compatible with your company’s existing tools, such as learning management systems.
  • Permissions: Several badge platforms provide various permission levels that let members of the badge organization carry out various roles. One account might be able to edit and add badges, whereas another might only issue them.
  • Cost: Some features might only be accessed via subscription. Other platforms offer their features for free up to a certain number of badges or users. Think about the expansion potential of your program and whether the possibility of additional costs might limit it.

Stage 4: Place a focus on Change Management

When implementing a badge program, every organization will probably need cultural change. The suggestions that follow may help to ensure a smooth transition to badges.

  • Look for a Badge Champion: The steps necessary to implement a successful Badge program are described here. We advise choosing a member of the organization to lead designing and implementation of the program. This process coordinates all the activities for creating a badge.
  • Consider the earners: The transition is greatly facilitated when those who are expected to participate in earning badges accept the badge program with open arms. According to our research, involving earners in the badge design process, starting small and iterating based on Feedback from earners, and, when appropriate, allowing earners to apply for badges based on their prior work and experience can help programs be more well-liked.

Additionally, a thorough explanation of badges in advance can quickly address many frequently asked questions and promote greater badge-earning participation.

  • Place the consumer first: Most badge programs aim to increase consumers’ acceptance of badges (those who will see them and value them). Although several types of micro-credentials have started to appear, employers have needed to be faster to accept these substitutes. The best way to ensure badge users will accept it is to collaborate with them when creating it in the first place. Even though a large audience might not be able to use this, incorporating customer feedback early on will increase their appreciation of the finished product. For instance, when creating our preservice educational technology badges, we considered suggestions for improvement from the regional school districts and national educational technology associations.

Metadata associated with an open badge presents an additional chance to enhance consumer acceptance. Consider how easily an outside audience will understand the description and requirements when creating a badge. To help you understand what the badge means, briefly explain the review procedure and the expected amount of work.