What is badging?

Badging is a concept that has been utilized in the classroom for a few years now.  Perhaps you remember your childhood when a teacher would reward you with a sticker, or your piano teacher would stamp your chart when you memorized a song.  These reward systems are a form of microcredentialing that can help to motivate adult learners.  

In a badging scenario, a learner will complete certain criteria.  These benchmarks might consist of earning certain marks on a quiz or assignment, attending a class, passing a review, or completing other similar activities.  In the digital realm, the person granting the badge will track certain metadata, which will include the issuer's credentials and name, the recipient's email or other identifying information, a short description of the badge, a link to the criteria, and any other relevant data about the badge.  The badge can then be pushed out into a "backpack", or a portfolio-style platform where badges are housed.  This might be an institutional platform, or it could be an established external platform such as LinkedIn or Mozilla Backpack. 

What do badges look like?

Badges take many forms.  They will typically include a title, possibly a date, and relevant iconology.  The design should not be overly complex.  A few examples of badging sets found online include:


The badges will appear as icons on the webpage, and may be granted to individuals, teams, or even an institution.  Completion of the badge indicates an accomplishment such as mastery of a skill, completion of a project, or recognizing a notable experience.  

badge details.png

How can I make or design a badge?

There are many different platforms that you can use to create a digital badge design.  If you happen to have Photoshop or are comfortable with designing images in PowerPoint, then you can save an upload images using those platforms.  Gimp is a good (free) alternative to Photoshop.  But if you are looking for good lightweight resources that let you design online, consider the following:

How can I earn/give a badge?  

Badging strategies require a lot of work up front.  The issuer must come up with formal documentation delineating the criteria for the badge while identifying relevant knowledge, skills, abilities, and/or behaviors to be assessed.  The evidence for these criteria must be detailed, such as the appropriate learning pathways and benchmarks.  For a good description of these processes and competencies, refer to the blog post: How to Design a Digital Badge Strategy.  An example of the general process can be seen as:

How do I begin?

If you are ready to venture into the world of badging in your course, you might consider the following platforms:

A great resource within the Canvas Community can be found at: Badging Platforms for Canvas 


If you are interested in researching whether badging would be a good tool for your classroom, consider the following points:

  • Badges should be meaningful - if everyone creates a badge for everything, then the concept of badging would be meaningless.  When everything you do is special, then nothing is special.
  • Badging page - It would be good to have a badging page with relevant links and requirements (think: curriculum and outcome alignment).  You can link the badge to a credible repository of outcomes.
  • Badging community - Badges from one institution or department might not be meaningful at another institution unless there is a common community.
  • Marketing - A good badging initiative would need marketing.  This might be a professor marketing to a class, or an internal institutional campaign with a formal PR campaign.  Get buy in and establish validity.  
  • Progression - It is common for badges to become progressively more meaningful.  Some people start with stamps, which turn into badges, which become shields (the nomenclature can change based on the strategy that the issuer creates).  This progression could reward behaviors that accumulate to demonstrate competencies, and competencies that accumulate to demonstrate completion.  
  • Establish intrinsic motivation - Badges aren't about just "showing up", but about demonstrating competencies.  You might create a class portfolio and establish leaderboards and showcase newly earned badges.
  • Design - It would be great to utilize a graphic designer.  If that is not an option then use one of the platforms listed above and remember to make the design simple with iconology that looks good with limited real estate.  Ideally your badge will be 150px by 150px.  

Written by Dr. Sean Nufer, Director of Ed Tech for TCS Education System.