The Benefits of Using Digital Badges in an Online Course

by Jacob Guerra-Martinez

When it comes to online courses, faculty members are always on the hunt for new ways to keep their learners engaged. The use of Digital Badges is one form of engagement that has popped up over the past few years, yet many people are still unsure of how it can be applied to their online courses.

What are Digital Badges?

Badges are visual representations of skills that learners have acquired by mastering a certain skill or activity. Unlike certificates, badges are distributed and posted online and are used to validate settings that are formal and informal (Learning Tech, 2015). In other words, Digital Badges are ways for learners and professionals to display the skills they have obtained from trainings, workshops, or courses. They can also be used to track progress within a course, and can also be part of a greater gamification design.

Benefits of Badges in the Online Classroom

Badges have many uses in online courses, and can be very helpful when it comes to motivating students. Here is a look at some of the benefits of Digital Badges in the online classroom.

More Opportunities for Success

One great thing about games is that when at first you do not succeed, you can try again and again until you do. The same can be applied to badges and online courses. Most of the time people give quizzes and assessments, assign grades, then move on without considering that mastering the previous material is needed in order for a successful progression (Browne, 2015). Badges, when combined with other gamification techniques, allow for learners to try again until they have mastered the task. Badges also provide the motivation to try again, since they result in something that the learners have worked hard to achieve.

Articulation of Skills

Another benefit of badges is that it allows learners to showcase and articulate skills that may not be so easy to describe (Learning Tech, 2015). That is because the badge is attached to certain sets of criteria and skills that need to be mastered. These skills, such as those obtained through volunteer work or study abroad opportunities, may not be represented well with a traditional certificate that is earned at the end. The badge allows learners to go deeper into those skills and showcase them for advancement in places such as social media and digital portfolios.


Badges also allow for a greater amount of feedback to be given to learners . If a student is successful at mastering the sets of skills, then they are given a badge. If they are not, the facilitator can use this as an opportunity to get in a greater discussion with the student on what they need to do to improve and earn the badge (Browne, 2015). This can also apply to shorter assignments that build up to a larger project.

Some considerations are needed when using Digital Badges in an online or face-to-face course, however many benefits also do exist. The main takeaway is that badges give people a chance to really show what they have learned by pairing them with a set of skills that have been mastered, and also opens the door for faculty to increase their interaction with learners, which adds to greater engagement. 

If you would like to know more about gamification or want to brainstorm some ideas, contact Learning Designer Jacob Guerra-Martinez.


5 Questions: What You Need to Know About Digital Badges (2015, September 14). Retrieved March 7, 2017, from

Browne, K. J. (2015, January 02). 4 Benefits To Using Badges In Online Learning. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from

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