Badges Design Principles Documentation Project Interim Report
Executive Summary

The Design Principles Documentation (DPD) Project is capturing the design principles for using open digital badges that emerge across the 30 organizations awarded grants to develop badge content in the 2012 Badges for Lifelong Learning Initiative. Because Open Badges contain specific claims about learning paired with detailed evidence supporting those claims, and because they can be easily shared across institutional walls, this new technology has the potential to break open existing economies for recognizing learning. Digital badges should enable learning that occurs in after-school programs, museums, libraries, and virtual organizations to find an appropriate place alongside the learning that occurs within formal school systems. In order to compete with traditional credentials like degrees that boast centuries of credibility, organizations first need to create systems of badges that structure their educational offerings, serve audience needs, motivate learners to participate, and provide appropriate evidence to back up their claims.

The general badge design principles that make up the bulk of this report systematically represent more specific practices that emerged across 30 projects. The DPD Project first documented the intended practices outlined in each of the 30 proposals. The project characterized these in terms of four types of badge design practices: (a) recognizing learning, (b) assessing learning, (c) motivating learning, and (d) studying learning. The project then documented how each badge system enacted those intended practices, modified them, or even abandoned them.

The first chapter of the report is an overview of the DPD Project. This is followed by four chapters, one for each of the four categories of badge design principles and practices. Each of these four chapters highlights the different ways that the general principles were represented by the specific practices in the various projects. Particular attention was directed at the contextual factors that impacted how the design principle ended up being enacted. This information is intended to be immediately useful for other organizations who are designing badges systems. In particular this information is expected to help organizations understand how the specifics of their educational context could and/or should impact the design of their badge system.

This draft report also includes the DPD Project’s first two case studies, each of which take a deep dive into a badge system from the DML competition, covering technology workplace skill development in MOUSE Wins! and history teacher training in Who Built America. These case studies include the information obtained from “Lessons Learned” reports submitted by projects to the support team at HASTAC as well as information obtained in the final interviews conducted by the DPD team with each project. These final interviews attempted to capture the formal badge practices that endured at each project after the DML funding for badges was exhausted. These final interviews also attempted to summarize the primary challenges that each project faced in designing its badge system. The final draft of the report will be completed in Summer 2014 and will include case studies from all 30 projects.

The DPD Project is directed by Daniel Hickey of Indiana University. Current project members who contributed to this work and this report include Rebecca Itow, Katerina Schenke, Cathy Tran, Nate Otto and Christine Chow. Andrea Rehak and Elyse Buffenbarger also worked on the project.

Badge Design Principles from the Design Principles Documentation Project

Design Principles for Recognizing Learning with Digital Badges

●  Use badges to map learning trajectory

●  Align badges to standards

●  Have experts issue badges

●  Seek external backing of credential

●  Recognize diverse learning

●  Use badges as a means of external communication

●  Determine appropriate lifespan of badges

●  Recognize educator learning

●  Award formal academic credit for badges

●  Promote discovery

Design Principles for Assessing Learning in Digital Badge Systems

●  Use leveled badge systems

●  Enhance validity with expert judgment

●  Align assessment activities to standards: create measurable learning objectives

●  Use performance assessments in relevant contexts

●  Use e-portfolios

●  Use formative functions of assessment

●  Use mastery learning

●  Use rubrics

●  Promote "hard" and "soft" skill sets

●  Involve students at a granular level

Design Principles for Motivating Learning with Digital Badges

●  Recognize identities

●  Engage with the community

●  Display badges to the public

●  Provide outside value of badges

●  Set goals

●  Promote collaboration

●  Stimulate competition

●  Recognize different outcomes

●  Utilize different types of assessments

●  Provide privileges

Design Principles for Studying Learning in Digital Badge Systems

Using traditional evidence:

●  Study badge impact: Research OF badges

●  Improve badge impact: Research FOR badges

●  Improve badge ecosystems: Research FOR ecosystems

Using the evidence contained in badges:

●  Study badge impact with badge evidence: Research WITH & OF badges

●  Improve badge impact with badge evidence: Research WITH & FOR badges

●  Improve badge ecosystems with badge evidence: Research WITH & FOR ecosystems