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Digital Badges Interest Group

Libguide for ACRL members interested in digital badging in libraries

Spring/Summer 2019 Article Reviews


Thanks for being great members of our interest group. Here is our latest capture of relevant research in microcredentials/badges.Enjoy!

Article 1

Rodgers, A. R. & Puterbaugh, M. (2017). Digital badges and library instructional programs: Academic library case study. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 29(4), 236-244.


This case study describes the planning, implementation, and migration process of Eastern University Library's information literacy digital badge. Prior to implementing a badging program, information literacy sessions were informally embedded in first-year college writing courses as a "one-shot" presentation. Spurred on by accreditation requirements, the library formalized its instruction by creating an information literacy digital badge. With a limited budget, low-cost tools such as Credly, Wordpress, and LearnDash were selected to serve as our delivery platforms. Through user feedback (both faculty and student), the library reevaluated the program and integrated the badge into the University's learning management system (LMS).

Article 2

Ziegler, A. (2019). Framework + digital badges = online instruction for today. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 13(1-2). Doi: 10.1080/1533290X.2018.1499262


This case study evaluates the process of developing modules for inclusion in a learning management system that are informed by the Association of College and Research Libraries Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education (2015). A replicable, transparent process was used to match more task-oriented topics suggested by librarians and teaching faculty to the Framework. As more and more students receive instruction online it is important for academic libraries to provide robust services to those users within the LMS as well as outside of it. By providing instruction within the LMS that is tied to the Framework, and by using digital badges to make the exploration of information literacy more obvious to students, instructors, and librarians, libraries can develop instruction that meets users at their point of need and provides content while lowering the need for direct librarian involvement in all online courses.

Article 3

Alexander, J. H., & Neill, S. (2018). The psychosocial impact of NHS digital badges on a school-aged cohort. Journal of Child Health Care 22(4), 619-630. Doi: 10.1177/1367493518767777\


Goal-oriented modalities of learning have long been used in educational settings to promote engagement and encourage a step-by-step approach to the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Historically, badges have been material, but in keeping with technological advancements there is a move towards encouraging greater digital engagement. Digital badges are today’s version of the Scouts and Guides badge, a virtual non-material version, increasingly being utilized as a pedagogical resource in education and business settings. In 2015, National Health Service (NHS) England developed and launched its own digital badges aimed at supporting children and young people’s education of health and well-being. This article presents findings from the first study to explore the psychosocial impact of NHS Digital Badges as perceived by primary school-aged children and their teachers. We conducted a small-scale evaluation involving children aged 8–10 (n = 57) and their teachers (n = 2), from a primary academy (school) in the north of England using NHS Digital Badges in their curriculum. Overwhelmingly, children and teachers reflected on the badges positively, as tools that have the capacity to build perseverance, develop emotional awareness, build relationships and enhance skill and knowledge acquisition. Some participants, though, raised vulnerability and safeguarding issues, and we explore the implications of these for future practice.

Fall 2018 Research Reviews

Fall 2018 Research Reviews 

Article 1

Carey, K. L. & Stefaniak, J. E. (2018). An exploration of the utility of digital badging in higher education settings. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(5), 1211-1229. doi: 10.1007/s11423-018-9602-1


The use of digital badges is a trend in today’s education and professional settings. We conducted an exploration to see how badges are being used in higher education. Digital badges and more specifically, open badges, are used in a multitude of learning contexts and serve many purposes. This study conducted interviews with individuals leading digital badge initiatives in higher education institutions. Our findings suggest that badges awarded for participation are valued less meaningful than skill-based badges. For skill-based badges, evidence of mastery must be associated with the badge along with the evaluation criteria. Badge purpose, transferability, and learning objectives were noted as the top priorities when implementing badge offerings in higher education contexts.


Open badges, digital badges, badge system implementation, microcredentials, higher education

Article 2

Mah, D. K. (2016). Learning analytics and digital badges: Potential impact on student retention in higher education. Technology, Knowledge, & Learning, 21(3), 285-305. doi: 10.1007/s10758-016-9286-8


Learning analytics and digital badges are emerging research fields in educational science. They both show promise for enhancing student retention in higher education, where withdrawals prior to degree completion remain at about 30 % in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries. This integrative review provides an overview of the theoretical literature as well as current practices and experience with learning analytics and digital badges in higher education with regard to their potential impact on student retention to enhance students’ first-year experience. Learning analytics involves measuring and analyzing dynamic student data in order to gain insight into students’ learning processes and optimize learning and teaching. One purpose of learning analytics is to construct predictive models to identify students who risk failing a course and thus are more likely to drop out of higher education. Personalized feedback provides students with information about academic support services, helping them to improve their skills and therefore be successful in higher education. Digital badges are symbols for certifying knowledge, skills, and competencies on web-based platforms. The intention is to encourage student persistence by motivating them, recognizing their generic skills, signaling their achievements, and capturing their learning paths. This article proposes a model that synthesizes learning analytics, digital badges, and generic skills such as academic competencies. The main idea is that generic skills can be represented as digital badges, which can be used for learning analytics algorithms to predict student success and to provide students with personalized feedback for improvement. Moreover, this model may serve as a platform for discussion and further research on learning analytics and digital badges to increase student retention in higher education.


Learning analytics, digital badges, student retention, generic skills, academic competencies


Article 3

Coleman, J. D. (2018). Engaging undergraduate students in a co-curricular digital badging digital badging platform. Education and Information Technologies, 23(1), 211-224. Doi: 10.1007/s10639-017-9595-0


Digital badging continues to garner attention in the educational community. What remains to be seen is how badging will interact with traditional curricular elements. While concerns have been raised about using badges as extrinsic motivators in coursework, there are alternate areas of application for digital badging. Badges may actually serve to motivate and empower student learning and engagement outside of the formal curriculum. This action research was conducted to guide the implementation of a badging system at Maranatha Baptist University. It explores the concept of using digital badges as a platform for recognizing learning experiences in co-curricular education. More specifically, it seeks to determine how to best optimize a co-curricular digital badging system for maximum student engagement through a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. Student focus groups were used with a mixed-methods methodology of collecting data on potential student interest and involvement in a digital badging environment. The quantitative portion compares intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations for participating, while the qualitative section consists of a coded analysis of student discussion of co-curricular digital badging.


Digital badging, gamification, game based learning, co-curricular education, experiential learning, extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, student engagement


Article Reviews - Spring 2018

Spring 2018 Articles

In addition to the articles included below, the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship published special issue articles on digital badges.


1. Hurst, E. J. (2015). Digital badges: Beyond learning incentives. Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 12(3): 182-189. Doi: 10.1080/15424065.2015.1065661


Abstract: The use of digital badges as learning incentives earned through completion of activities in online instructional settings continues to gain traction. From K-12 to higher education and beyond, into practical skill building and continuing education exercises, incentives such as badges borrow principles from gaming to engage and motivate learners. The implementation of badges into online learning platforms and the adoption of digital badges into Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) further demonstrates the popularity of this trend. Continued understanding of learner needs and perceptions of badges by educators can ensure that efforts taken to “gamify” learning using badges are well spent.

Keywords: adult education, adult learning, digital badge, gamification, online education


2. Casilli, C., & Hickey, D. (2014). Transcending conventional credentialing and assessment paradigms with information-rich digital badges. The Information Society: An International Journal, 32(2): 117-129. Doi: 10.1080/01972243.2016.1130500


Abstract: Open digital badges are Web-enabled tokens of learning and accomplishment. They operate in an environment of explicit (rather than tacit) trust; open badges provide issuers the ability to include specific claims and associate those claims with detailed supporting evidence. Earners are encouraged to share their badges over social networks, e-mail, and websites, and the information they contain is expected to circulate readily in these spaces. Building upon current concepts and theories from the Information Sciences and Learning Sciences, this article shows how the informational affordances of digital badges are transforming education and learning more generally, and more particularly by transcending conventional paradigms of academic credentialing and educational assessment.

Keywords: assessment, connected learning, credentialing, digital badges, education, open badges, technology


3. Foli, K. J., Karagory, P., & Kirby, K. (2016). An exploratory study of undergraduate nursing students’ perceptions of digital badges. Journal of Nursing Education, 55(11): 640-644.


Abstract: Digital badges are virtual and visual representations of achievement by an individual learner. Student motivation to attain competencies in quality and safety may be increased through earning badges; however, empirical research in the literature is scarce.

Approximately 100 nursing students' perceptions of digital badges were assessed after completing online safety and quality of care modules. The attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction (ARCS) model of motivation was used as a theoretical framework.

Quantitative findings revealed a range of neutral to positive perceptions of digital badges. Content analysis described polarized opinions of the badges' effect on motivation toward learning; however, the majority of students found digital badges to be meaningful and motivating.

Although most nursing students reported that digital badges motivated them in the learning activity, perceptions are contingent on factors that require further exploration: internal versus external motivation, previous exposure to badges, and future uses of digital badges in their professional lives.

Subject Terms: nursing education, college students, perceptions, online instruction


Article Reviews and Descriptions, Fall 2017

1. Harmon, J., & Copeland, A. (2016). Students' perceptions of digital badges in a public library management course. Education for Information, 32(1), 87-100

Abstract: For the Spring 2015 semester of the Public Library Management course, students were given digital badges along with grades for their coursework. For each topic's corresponding assignment, students received a traditional grade and those achieving at least an A- received a digital badge that represented the skill or knowledge demonstrated. By using digital badges, the students were given the opportunity to experience this growing educational trend and reflect on their role in the learning that takes place in libraries for librarians and library users. To explore the effectiveness of digital badging, students were surveyed to ascertain how they perceived the digital badges they received. The survey results indicated that students were underwhelmed by the experience in terms of their own motivation, their perception of the usefulness of badges for employment and for professional development purposes, and their future personal use of badges.


Overall Summary: This article does a good job of reviewing how students perceive badges they receive. In addition, they are using badges in an MLIS program. One critique is that they simply assign badges to students who receive an A- in that part of the course which is not capturing the goal of badges to capture moments of learning that were previously unrecognized.

2. Fajiculay, J. R., Parikh, B. T., Wright, C. V., & Sheehan, A. H. (2017). Student perceptions of digital badges in a drug information and literature evaluation course. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning. (Poster)


Poster Description: This poster classifies and connects digital badges to gamification as a way to incentivize millenials to learn. They conducted surveys before and after the implementation of the electronic badges. They required a 90% competency in order to approve the badge. 47% of their participants had received a digital badge previously. Of the 106 participants, 11 chose to complete the digital badges. In general, the students who earned the digital badges viewed them positively. The only perspective that decreased was that after completing the badges they were less likely to share them on social media. These digital badges were not required so even though student felt like new technology should be used, they received a low completion rate.


3. Bebbington, S., Goldfinch, E., & Taylor, J. (2016). Digital Badges for Professional Development: Supporting Library Personnel with the CLA School Library Standards. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 11(1).


Abstract: The Canadian Library Association published Leading Learning, a library standards guide for school libraries in 2014. The Quebec School Librarians Network (QSLiN) adapted these standards into a digital badge professional development program. Digital badges are a means for providing online learning, assessment and credentials in an interactive and dynamic way. They allow achievers to gain new knowledge and be recognized for skills and competencies that may otherwise go unnoticed. QSLiN's digital badge program facilitates the transition of traditional school libraries into school Library Learning Commons. This badge program pilot project hopes to connect the Canadian school library community as well as provide an accessible and user-friendly form of professional development to all school library personnel regardless of their location. Research suggests that the two greatest barriers to professional development are time and money. As such, having a free online program helped to alleviate both barriers. This paper discusses the process we undertook at QSLiN to incorporate digital badges into our professional development initiatives. We will discuss the first phase of this pilot project as well as address future considerations for the program.


Highlight: The badges that this team used were created through a custom WordPress site and Credly badges plug-in. They created bronze, silver, and gold level badges that each had different number of steps and expectations for the same process. Future directions are to petition various library associations to give their accreditation or stamp of approval to the badges.