digital badges in education

Digital Badges in Education: How They Work and Why You Need Them

Advances in technology, changing priorities, and a generation of students who grew up connected to the internet have changed the classroom environment. Educators must regularly upgrade their skills and knowledge to respond to these changes. Yet, teachers already have full workloads, and professional development (PD) is too often put on the back burner.

The challenge for school leaders is how to motivate and engage teachers in the district’s PD programs. Making digital badges a component is one way. Businesses using digital badges in their training programs have reported positive results, so incorporating them in education promises to produce similar outcomes.

What Are Digital Badges?

Digital badges originated in the gaming industry. Developers created these awards to recognize achievements as gamers progressed through levels of difficulty. Anyone who has invested time in video game play or witnessed others playing can attest to how focused and engaged players become, even when performing tasks that don’t appear to be that exciting.

So, what keeps gamers hooked to their screens and controllers? Many suggest that it is the availability of challenges and the gratifying sense of achievement when those challenges are met. Reward systems like badges are natively built into successful games, and the sense of community created as fans interact motivates players to return again and again. Incorporating these elements into non-gaming processes, such as learning, promises to lead to the same level of engagement.

Digital badges in education are a type of micro-credential. They verify the successful completion of a course or series of courses and provide visual recognition of knowledge and skills acquired. They identify specific skills that the badge holder has mastered, and they can be shared on social media, added to portfolios, and included in resumes.

Are Digital Badges Effective for Engaging Learners?

The use of digital badges in non-gaming applications is not an entirely new notion, and data from the business sector supports the idea that they would also be effective in education.

A decade ago, IBM launched a digital badge program for its employees. The company needed a way to build a pool of skilled labor but was having difficulty enticing employees to enroll, engage, and complete the training programs offered. The digital badge feature proved to be a great success.

Within a few weeks of launching the pilot program, enrollment in training increased by 129%, the number of enrollees who completed courses increased by 226%, and the number of enrollees who passed end-of-course assessments increased more than threefold.

How Digital Badges Benefit Educators

The generation of educators now entering classrooms grew up in the digital age. Most are quite familiar with badges as an element of gaming and can appreciate the use of digital badges in education. They motivate learners to continually work toward PD goals, as achieving a badge brings a fulfilling sense of accomplishment by marking a milestone along a learning path.

Digital badges give educators a way to verify their learning and build a personal profile of achievements. These portable credentials can be added to an educator’s portfolio to verify skills, and they can be posted to social media so colleagues can follow each other’s progress, creating a culture of learning. Pursuing new skills and knowledge is fun because teachers and their peers can engage in friendly competition.

How Digital Badges Benefit School Leaders

A school district’s faculty consists of professionals who have different roles within the schools and hold diverse levels of knowledge and skills. District PD program developers are continually challenged to efficiently meet the varied needs of educators.

Traditionally, PD programs take a one-size-fits-all approach, which is ineffective in meeting the requirements of the modern classroom. With a digital badge program, school leaders can create learning opportunities to target a wide range of skills that meet the needs of the district and its teachers. Administrators can quickly identify who has mastered specific skills, and they can track the learning progress of individual educators and staff members.

Districts Can Realize the Benefits of Offering Digital Badges in Education with MobileMind

Traditional PD programs that offer learning in group sessions during infrequent in-service days are failing to meet the evolving needs of teachers in today’s classroom. School leaders can modernize their district’s PD programs by offering educators the opportunity to pursue professional learning in small increments and earn digital badges to mark their progress. This approach promises to engage teachers in sustainable learning that is relevant, convenient, and fun.

MobileMind streamlines the process. This innovative, cloud-based learning hub empowers district leaders to create courses and learning paths that meet the specific needs of its faculty and staff.

The MobileMind Badge Studio enables PD program developers to design custom badges to recognize accomplishments. The studio includes templates and a library of icons that make it easy to create badges to recognize a learner’s mastery of topics, such as curriculum standards and technology tools. Badges can also verify the completion of mandated training, and school leaders can track their staff’s progress in one space.

Final Thoughts

The modern school environment requires that educators have access to continual professional learning to meet their needs and those of their students. Teachers are often overwhelmed with the demands of their jobs, making it difficult to prioritize PD. Data from the IBM program supports how digital badges in education can be an effective way to motivate and engage learners.

School leaders can utilize MobileMind's tools to offer relevant, engaging courses that will encourage teachers to learn and pursue digital badges to build their portfolios and advance their careers.

Most professional development programs only specialize in one thing. MobileMind offers personalized, activity-based learning with reporting and tracking. Fun digital badges upon courses completed give teachers immediate takeaways to use in the classroom. Schedule a call with MobileMind or request a demo to differentiate the PD that your teachers want and need.