Digital Badges in Education: A Win for Students and Instructors

Image depicting digital badges with icons including a trophy, a target and a ribbon.
Online LearningStudent Success
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Dr. Billi Bromer is a Professor of Education at Brenau University


A process for earning digital badges can provide a simple way for you and your students to share responsibility for student success in your online course. Digital badges can be provided to students who complete additional instructional activities that increase knowledge related to the course content or enhance valuable course-related skills.

The “win” for an instructor is the opportunity to provide that little bit of extra information in a course that adds to student learning. For students, the “win” is exchanging an earned badge for a desirable reward, such as a later due date on an assignment.

How to use digital badges in a college course

In an online Introductory to Education course provided in the Canvas Learning Management System, Badgr—an online credentialing platform—was integrated to offer optional badges. The course contained four topical modules, with one badge opportunity at the end of each module.


Here’s how it worked:

  • Students could earn badges at any time after completing the required module activities and two additional badge activities
  • Students could earn badges through the end of the course after meeting the requirements
  • Badge activities were short online assignments that related to the module topic
  • Students could exchange each earned badge for:
    • a later due date on an assignment (other than weekly discussions) OR
    • one additional point to the final earned point total that determined the final grade

If you choose to implement a similar program, you can decide how long of a due date extension students get from earning a badge. Feel free to customize the student benefits each badge will provide.


Here are the badges students can earn in the Introduction to Education course:

I Love the Profession of Teaching

I Know the Current Issues in Education

I Will Be an Effective Teacher

I Will Be an Innovative Teacher


What did students think?

Although not all students in the course took advantage of the opportunity to earn badges, those who did earn badges appreciated their availability.

Here are a few student comments:

“I enjoyed having the badges as an opportunity to learn more. It allowed me to dig in a bit deeper on some concepts! I valued having the badges as part of the course and thought it was a great addition.”

“I loved having the badges as an option. Especially when I was really busy a few weeks ago and was really worried about getting assignments. I was really grateful to be able to rely on the badges as an option. It made me feel a lot safer.”

“It was a sincere relief to be graded on the merits of my project, and not have points taken for missing the deadline. It was not given for free – I still had to do work, which is a fair exchange in my opinion – but it was very helpful and I appreciated the opportunity. Plus, I received another boost of learning in the process.”


Digital badges are a WIN for all

Including digital badges is one simple way instructors can provide additional opportunities for students to be successful in a course. There are always additional resources instructors want to add to courses, but they may hesitate to avoid information overload. Badges enable you to add those optional extras.

There are always circumstances in which students just can’t make an assignment due date. Rather than wondering about being too strict by never providing an extension or too lenient by always providing one, you can strike a happy medium by providing the same late-submission opportunity to everyone. The use of digital badges in an online course provides a WIN-WIN all around!


Get more tips from Dr. Bromer on adding gamification and badges to your online course.