About Badge Learning

Digital Badge Learning

A digital badge is more than just a graphic icon validating achievement.  Similar to badges earned in youth scouting programs, digital badges indicate an accomplishment where the learner may take a variety of paths to demonstrate their achievements. Digital badges may reward academic achievement or soft skill behaviors, like participation and posting comments in an online learning space.  Throughout the learning experience, “community” badges may confer privileges or “power ups,” such as being promoted to peer reviewer status or receiving “superpowers,” like the freedom to design your own badge.



Open Badges,”  a term coined by the Mozilla Foundation, are “metacoded” with rich information about the student’s learning journey, accomplishments, rubrics and possibly learning artifacts.  This “digital transcript” portrays a clear picture of a student’s understandings and skills.  Metacoding also prevents copying or pirating, which protects the badges’ integrity.

When Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) compliant, badges can be stored and shared through the Mozilla Badge Backpack, and shared out to a variety of social media interfaces (Wikis, Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and more).

Open Badges are “…portals that lead to large amounts of information about what their bearers know and can do” (“Show Me Your Badge,” The New York Times, November 2, 2012). Badges communicate far more about a student’s learning and how they built their knowledge than any traditional letter grade.


Based on current research…

Digital badge learning helps kids demonstrate achievements through “messing around” and  “geeking out.”
A comprehensive study of youth by the MacArthur Foundation, called “Living With New Media” (2008) discovered that youth spend their time online “hanging out,” “messing around,” and “geeking out.” Hanging out refers to extending social interactions and friendships through networks; messing around refers to tinkering and diving deeper into interests beyond school; and geeking out refers to collaborating with experts to advance knowledge around an interest. Adults are welcomed into the youth online world for instances of “geeking out,” where adults are mentors and resources in advancing youth knowledge.


Connected Learning

“Connected learning seeks to integrate three spheres of learning that are often disconnected and at war with each other in young people’s lives: peer culture, interests, and academic content.”

(Connected Learning, An Agenda for Research and Design)


Read the latest study on the design of connected learning environments and how they can benefit youth in a networked society (DML Central, January 15, 2013).

Watch “Everyone,” where cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito discusses the guiding principles of connected learning.

Explore Case Studies that put the principles of connected learning in action.




Badge Learning Ecosystem

The Mozilla Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation are creating a badge learning ecosystem that supports the democratization of education.
The Mozilla Foundation (in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation) explains in a white paper, “The time has come to connect self-directed and interest-driven learning to a broader ecosystem of accreditation and recognition to enable each learner to capitalize on the learning experiences that they are already having, or to inspire and help them to seek out new ones, as well as to communicate their achievements and skills to necessary stakeholders.  To do so, we must not only recognize that people learn across many contexts in many different ways, but also find a way to capture that learning, collect it across the contexts and communicate it out.”


Youth & Digital Media

Digital badge learning meets youth where they are.
95% of American teens, ages 12-17, are online; 80% of teens participate in some sort of social network; and over 64% of teens post some kind of content online (Pew Internet & American Life Project).


Learn More

A collection of articles, reports and resources related to digital badge learning