Using “Badges” in Education and Beyond

What is it about “badging” ourselves on social media sites? It has become a trend that companies are trying to tap into. I remember learning about Smarterer’s badge system for its users, a way that someone can display their prowess in a particular skill to their fellows on the online community or conceivably to employers.

FourSquare badges

There’s a new open-source badging platform that was just announced called Sash, developed by the education technology company EverFi, Inc. This badging technology is geared toward K-12 audiences.

EverFi’s press release about Sash featured a quote that jumped right off the page. The company’s chief technology officer Adam Wenchel believes that badging will become the “currency of the next phase of education.” This is a bold statement, but it’s not neccesarily without merit. Badging could conceivably become the next big trend in evaluating people’s performance capabilities and worth.

Badges are kinds of virtual goods or digital artifacts that give a visual representation of how much fun we are having in specific activities. I have a friend who is a big fan of craft beer. While browsing Facebook it has become a very common thing to see his Untappd badges indicating the progress he’s made in enjoying his brews. He got a Brewery Loyalist badge for enjoying “10 beers from the same brewery in 30 days.” My friend derives pleasure from tracking and quantifying his hobby. Before, we built model airplanes or collected stamps and displayed them in our houses, only viewable by those few people who tended to visit our homes. Now, we can display them to our entire networks by way of the internet.

So what does Wenchel mean when he says badging will become a kind of currency? He is pointing out that right now, badging is a mostly fun concept. But something fun like this can conceivably catch the eye of an employer, especially if the badges represent actual real-world accomplishments and skills. Wenchel’s full quote reads: “Digital badges can paint a more meaningful picture of what a student knows beyond grades or standardized test scores. EverFi has built a badging platform to incentivize that student learning, and we are very excited to be sharing this innovation with the broader tech community so that other education providers can recognize their students’ learning achievements.”

The practice of badging is present in a number of educational technology platforms and games. The quantification of one’s activities will only become more popular over time. As we continue to report on developments in the education technology scene, it wouldn’t surprise me to see more platforms adopt some form of badging. That being said, EverFi is interested in working with all kinds of developers, promptly displaying a “hiring” button on their press release. Get involved at www.everfi.com/badging.