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Forget grades, digital badges could inspire more


 Use of the modern digital badge – an online representation of mastery of knowledge or skills – can be a valuable supplement to the more established educational assessment tools and classroom grades, says a study.

Digital badges would provide an opportunity to both motivate and measure learning, said Sam Abramovich, education professor at the University at Buffalo.

"What badges can do is provide an avenue to create the next generation of assessments," he noted.

"Badges refer to achievement, when you are acknowledged for achieving a goal," Abramovich added.

In his investigation of several badge systems, Abramovich identified three essential ingredients for successful educational badges: They have to present some enjoyment for the learner, they must recognise work that extends beyond a student’s typical academic ability and the student has to value what that badge represents.

Badges can change the focus on test-taking, providing a tool for motivation and assessment, and a way to provide credentials for learning, Abramovich pointed out.

"What badges do is target the learning that is traditionally unrecognised," he said.

"And you can display a badge in an online profile or on Facebook, so your social network is notified," the researcher pointed out.

Badges are, however, not a new concept. A Girl Scout or Boy Scout merit badge is a good example, and video games often offer digital badges for a level of achievement.

The study is forthcoming in the International Journal of Learning and Media.