Digital Badges Sub Team Introduction and Goals

As Anne Behler mentioned, Library Learning Services at Penn State is engaging in an instruction reboot. There are three main areas to this reboot. Each of these areas has a team supporting it. The digital badges team consists of Amanda Larson, Anne Behler, Emily Rimland, and Torrie Raish.

To provide some context for those who are unfamiliar with our information literacy digital badges, we have a website describing them. Our digital badges have been very successful and we reached the point were demand for the badges outpaced our supply in terms of resources and time. This instruction reboot is a perfect time for us to explore our digital badging program and look at concepts such as scale, sustainability, and capacity.

In particular, we are prioritizing the following tasks:

  • Identify key populations and classes for implementation;
  • Review content and identify outdated content as well as opportunities for new badges;
  • Establish collaborative plan across Penn State libraries;
  • Create a consistent approach and experience for instructors who are interested in using the badges;
  • Determine our threshold in terms of human and time resources;
  • Consider need for additional website presence;
  • Analyze research conducted around the digital badges;
  • Create a sign-up online form for people interesting in using the digital badges; and,
  • Establish a training system for use of the digital badges.

We have issued over 3,000 badges over the course of the past two years and get to participate with students in a flexible learning environment. The digital badges can be used in a completely online learning space or they can be used to flip the classroom in a residential instructional model.

Digital badges are a form of microcredential that recognizes learning in a variety of formats and amounts. Our digital badges consist of a mix of manually evaluated and automatically evaluated student submissions. The overall learning theory driving the badges is Connectivism. The digital badges always start with an articulation of prior knowledge and always end with a reflection or application of the student’s learning.

We have already learned some key best practices from using digital badges in formal coursework.

  1. Over the course of a semester, the badges are most successful when students earn one to four.
  2. It takes around three hours for one librarian to evaluate one badge for a class of 25 to 30 students.
  3. Students benefit from visual tutorials or descriptions on how to earn the digital badges as most are unfamiliar with this concept.
  4. To prevent student confusion as to when they will receive feedback, communicate expected evaluation times to them.
  5. Clarify expectations with instructors and spend time reviewing how the badges will be presented and earned in the course.

There are multiple digital badging systems that can be used in the creation and issuing of digital badges. At Penn State, we use This system complies with all Open Badging technical specifications and allows students to share their badges beyond Penn State.

We are very excited to have this opportunity to critically examine and review our digital badging system. The support and adoption rates we have experienced so far have exceeded our expectations and we look forward to more areas of unexpected success in the future!

Signing off for now,

Badging Reboot Team

Torrie, Emily, Anne, and Amanda L.


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