In fifth grade, my teacher gave us gold stars for certain behaviors and actions. I loved to see gold stars accumulate next to my name. We would receive gold stars for perfect attendance and completing homework assignments. At the end of the month, students who finished in the top five received a reward. And the reward was always delicious. In today’s classroom there is a growing movement to bring back the best of “gold stars.” However, the concept has been reimagined by innovators as digital badges, which indicate a student’s accomplishments, completion of tasks, skills and interests in various learning environments.
We are bringing digital badges to ConnectEd Studios, our digital platform for students, teachers and district administrators because we see badging as a way to both incentivize a student’s performance and inform a teacher’s instruction. Ben Crosby, ConnectEd’s Senior Program Associate, is on the team that is designing digital badges. He explains, “For badges to be meaningful, they need to be tied to demonstrated competencies.” This means that I wouldn’t receive a badge for the action of completing my homework assignment. Rather I would earn one for showing that I understood and learned the material the assignment covered. Badging systems are meant to reward and celebrate when a student reaches learning outcomes or demonstrates a skill.