How to Introduce Digital Badges Into Your Educational Model

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E-Learn Team and Liliana Tonitto
13/12/21
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Keeping students motivated is one of the main challenges educators face. Among the existing ways to make the learning process a practical and dynamic experience, digital badges provide public recognition to learners and allow them to move forward in their academic achievements.

To broaden the topic and provide teachers with tools that help them optimize the academic experience, we spoke with Liliana Tonitto, Customer Success Lead at Acreditta LATAM. In this interview, Tonitto explains how to implement a successful educational model based on digital badges.

With over 20 years of experience, Tonitto is a consultant specializing in coaching, human talent development, and organizational change management. She has four years of experience as a digital recognition strategist at Acreditta, providing support in the design and implementation of digital badges for customers located in 14 countries.

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When Did Digital Badges Begin to Be Used in Education?

Liliana Tonitto

Digital badge technology was created in the United States and has been around for about 10 years. In Latin America, they were introduced four years ago. They have been used by educational institutions and professional bodies such as the Association of Colombian Universities (ASCUN) to recognize members for their academic achievements, project implementations, and execution. Some companies also use them to recognize collaborators for the development of competencies and organizational achievements.

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What Is the Purpose of Digital Badges?

Liliana Tonitto

A digital badge is an incentive used to recognize a learner for having achieved something you want to promote. Badges can be used to recognize many actions such as project implementations, educational training, academic performance, progress in learning paths, specific competencies and skills, participation in research activities, or volunteering. Apart from granting recognition, one of the main goals of using badges is to help illustrate and draw attention to the skills a person has, such as soft and hard skills, and the trajectory and achievements they have accomplished.

To enhance the student experience, you could use badges to recognize progress in learning paths, and their involvement or participation in specific activities. You can recognize their achievements in projects they have executed, their merits, and aspects in which they have particularly excelled. All this aims to encourage progress, involvement, participation, and the achievement of significant results at school or work. As an educational institution, you can build an entire recognition strategy based on the experience that you would like to create for the student. 

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Can Badges Be Personalized Based on Subject or the Educational Level of the Student?

Liliana Tonitto

You can create a whole universe of badges that recognize many aspects in different areas and levels. What’s important is to monitor a learner’s progress and provide them with the appropriate badge at every stage. The idea is that students can have multiple badges as digital evidence that proves their achievements and contributions.

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How Can Students’ Cognitive Development and Learning Be Measured?

Liliana Tonitto

The badge is awarded after a learning process is completed, which means that it doesn’t replace the process itself but provides evidence of the results. In that sense, they can help draw attention to a person’s progress: a level achieved, the types of experiences they have completed, and the paths they have been following. You can measure all those aspects. 

When you award a badge to students, they can keep it in their badge wallet, share it through social media, and save it as part of their email signatures. The Acreditta platform allows you to see where a student has shared the badge, and even measure how many times it’s been seen. It’s useful to know the effect that the badges are having and where they’re being seen and shared to shape a communication strategy. You can even gauge learner motivation by seeing who wants to earn more badges. All this information can help faculty better articulate a development strategy for their students.

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How Are Badges Used Successfully?

Liliana Tonitto

The first step is to answer these questions: 

  • What do you want the badges for and what is the effect that you want to create with them? 
  • Who do you want to impact? 
  • What do you want to recognize specifically? 

These questions allow you to determine a clear strategy, including when the badges will be used to reinforce the experiences of specific groups of people or learners. This way, you build a coherent strategy that can be monitored to see its impact. For example, if you’re interested in strengthening your teachers’ skills or stimulating their research work.

There’s no wrong way of using badges because providing recognition is always positive. When you organize them and combine them based on the impact you want to generate for a person, you can attain a more effective result. 

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What Kind of Badges Are Most Effective and How Can They Transform Learning Outcomes?

Liliana Tonitto

Badges are designed considering the impact they will have on people and where they can show them. For example, suppose you want to enhance students’ employability so that more opportunities open up as they progress in their learning paths. In this case, you’ll want to determine which skills you want to highlight, the information this badge should include, where it will be shown, and the keywords used to make the search more accurate and make the students’ profiles more appealing. 

There’s also great value attached to an institution. If you study at a well-known institution with strong branding, that’s going to leverage the value of your badges. 

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How Can Teaching Professionals Develop an Educational Model Based on Digital Badges?

Liliana Tonitto

New generations need to feel that, as they grow and learn, they’re being  recognized for it. Identify the important milestones along their learning path and recognize those achievements. That will stimulate the student to continue learning, and at the same time, will open doors into the job market or help them be considered for relevant projects. You don’t need to wait until they’ve completed their studies fully to start opening doors for them. Instead, you want to open opportunities for them during their learning path or journey.

It’s also important to know where students aim to go in terms of their careers, and how to transform your programs to support their success. This way, they will feel more motivated to continue learning, which will produce more opportunities for them in the end. Badges also allow us to recognize different aspects and achievements of each learner. This results in helping students build a strong personal brand, showing their diverse skills, projects they’ve worked on, and milestones. In that way, you will help them build their reputation as professionals and enhance the skills that will have the most impact on their future.

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