Learning Merit: About Digital Badges

ATIG’s new badging initiative might leave you wondering: what are badges? What is the place of these digital badges in the learning environment?


While a GPA is one measure of student success, what does that number let us know about the student’s pathway to graduation? Badges tell a story of an individual’s unique skills and achievements during their academic career, painting a clearer picture of who that learner is and what learning objectives she has completed.

Digital badging is catching on not only in higher education. Stack Overflow, a web community where computer programmers of all levels ask and answer questions and receive help, awards badges based on user expertise and helpfulness. These badges award community members for being good citizens of this digital community.

Beyond telling a student’s story and encouraging good digital citizenship, badging makes learning fun. Badges give tangible form to the sense of achievement we feel when mastering a skill and progressing to a new challenge. Overcoming challenges is rewarded, and learners can “level up” to more advanced challenges – just like in a video game.

Want to learn more? Check out some further reading:

Carey, Kevin (November 2, 2012). Show Me Your Badge. The New York Times, retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/show-me-your-badge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Carey, Kevin (April 8, 2012). A Future Full of Badges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/A-Future-Full-of-Badges/131455/

EduCause Learning Initiative (June 2012). 7 Things You Should Know About Badges. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7085.pdf

Raths, David (June 20, 2013). How Badges Really Work in Higher Education. Campus Technology, retrieved from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2013/06/20/How-Badges-Really-Work-in-Higher-Education.aspx

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