With the digital badge system, conventional grades are done away with. In place of an A or a B or a C, teachers award badges that reflect a certain amount of learning. Each badge, which can be placed on a student’s personal website for prospective employers to peruse, can denote mastery of a given subject area in a level of detail that a letter grade cannot quite convey. A visual resume, if you will, digital badges each represent a single skill-set, so that someone looking to hire can easily see the full extent of what someone has to offer. Digital badges can even offer recognition of skills that are not usually graded, such as leadership, technology prowess and ability to think quickly.
According to badge enthusiasts, digital badges are even better for the students. ClassBadges, an online tool to create digital badges, are a “great way for students to keep track of all their learning experiences both in and out of the classroom year after year,” according to their website.
An accomplishment results in a badge, and if a student works hard enough, she can earn multiple badges. However, the system so far has mostly been tested in the university classroom. The concept might be harder to sell to younger students. Without the pressure of grades, the digital badge system requires a certain amount of self-motivation on the part of the students, which I’m not sure is very realistic, considering just how much motivation the possibility of a good grade provides, to K-12 and college students alike.