They can be earned in a wide variety of settings and are used by individuals to showcase their competences. In this article, we explore digital badges in detail, how they are used, how they are created, how they relate to digital credentials, and how issuers can extend their programmes through issuing digital badges .
Digital badges represent a type of digital credential, an evolution of traditional physical credentials. They stand out as one of the main forms of digital credentials, alongside digital certificates, which follow a more formal presentation format.
Digital badges take a pictorial approach, using shapes, colours, banners, icons and fonts to represent credential awards. They serve as digital proof of an individual's competences, allowing for quick and easy verification on the specific digital credential page. Third parties, such as employers and recruiters, can easily verify a candidate's skills and gain a deeper understanding of their knowledge and abilities.
The flexibility of the design and metadata that accompany digital badges makes it possible for issuers to use them for both formal and informal purposes. These badges are issued in a variety of contexts to recognise achievements, illustrate growth, represent association or affiliation, and serve as proof of qualification, completion or competence.
Digital badges include detailed information about what the badge earner had to demonstrate to earn the badge. The metadata associated with the badge helps communicate the value of the digital credential and encourages other users to pursue it for their own professional development goals.
Useful metadata commonly added to digital badges include:
Digital badges are created, issued, managed, verified and shared online. Recipients receive a unique URL for their digital badge, which can be shared on social media, added to LinkedIn profiles, added to email signatures, online CVs and added to smartphone wallets. The digital badge is a visual and shareable representation of the knowledge, skills and competences acquired.
Open Badges are digital images embedded with verifiable data about the award represented. They were developed by the Mozilla Foundation in 2011, together with the Open Badge Standard, a group of open technical specifications and standards for embedding information in portable image files. Only digital badges that meet the Open Badge Standard are considered digital open badges. To meet the standard, they must contain verifiable information about who earned the badge, how the badge was earned, what the badge represents, who the issuing organisation is, and the criteria (the recipient had to demonstrate to earn the badge).
Digital badges are extremely versatile in their use. Issuers have full control over the design and the accompanying metadata, which details what the digital badge is and how it was obtained. This allows them to represent everything from membership affiliation and event participation to the individual modules of a degree and more complex certification programmes. Common examples of digital badge use includes:
Digital credentials (digital badges and digital certificates), provide an overview of a candidate's specific skills. Traditional credentials offer some evidence that the named individual has completed a programme, but lack useful information such as demonstrable skills and earning criteria. Digital badges improve the communication behind the evidence and bring more context to recognising achievements, knowledge, skills and competencies.
Using digital badge metadata, issuers can detail exactly what skills a learner had to demonstrate, what criteria were required to qualify, and the level of experience they have after earning the credential. This is necessary to communicate the specific value of the digital badge and is used to promote the issuer's credentials to potential learners.