Do-It-Yourself Badges

September 24, 2013
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm PST
By Educator Innovator

How can an educator, librarian, or maker create a do-it-yourself badge system? What resources are out there for people who want to build a small-scale badge system?

Key Questions and Comments:

  • 1st Hypothetical Use Case: Bob the Librarian
  • (05:24) One thing that I would encourage the librarian to do is to really think very seriously about what kind of goal they’re aiming for with this badge. Not just “because we want to issue a badge,” but because “There is some kind of significant learning or experience happening that the badge is a representation of.
  • (11:09) If Bob is going to award a badge for a single thing (completing a task)…I always try to think of ways to make a badge for task measurement instead of completion…it’s a way to drive people to performance beyond what they think they would normally do. It’s binary if it’s a completion.
  • (17:29) Competition’s a tricky thing…even with games, I try to avoid competition, especially for learning, because you end up alienating people who are new. The one way to avoid that kind of thing, or at least accommodate it a little bit better is something that competitive video games do and they call it a ‘ladder system’. You group players, or earners, or participants with other people who are at the same skill level as them. (So, beginners are participating with beginners)
  • (19:47) Participation badges were the things that we tried to avoid for a long time when we first started with badge design. And then we found that they were actuallyreally important. With the Chicago Summer of Learning, one of the things we realized–almost when it was about to start–was, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing if you didn’t necessarily get any other badges but you went to some experience and you got a badge that said you were a part of this entire experience?’
  • (22:34) Now, [Bob] needs the design for the badge. Not everybody has a wonderful designer that knows what they’re doing in Photoshop. What are some options for people to think about what the badge should look like?
  • (25:02) Badges are important to people for a lot of different reasons, and I think aesthetics is one of them. But, in my opinion, it would be lower. Because a badge can be ugly but everybody think you’re awesome for having it, I would wear it on my shirt every day.
  • (28:12) If your badge looks really nice, people tend to think that it actually has more weight (more psychological weight or more meaning behind it). There’s lots of interesting psychology associated just with the way the badge looks. But, again, the badge is a representation of an experience, so the goal is to emphasize that experience as much as possible.
  • 2nd Hypothetical Use Case: Kaari the Teacher
  • (35:32) Any badge that’s an Open Badge can be displayed publicly on a website, or a blog, or a “glog”…Badges don’t necessarily need to go through any specific process…there’s not a tool that’s needed in order to do that.
  • (38:52) One thing that might be a good intermediate, and pretty free, step is have kids make [badges] in paper…Have them do the art design themselves…and write out the criteria with them. That is your design…Have the kids help in the design: I think that would be an interesting intermediary step before jumping right into the technology.
  • (40:03) This process, these six steps, are the steps we follow when we go into an organization or a group who is at the ground level: Create Personas, Create Learning Objectives, Fill in Bloom’s Taxonomy, Convert Learning Objectives to Badges, Align w/ Badge Design Taxonomy, Create Skill Tree
  • (48:11) You really want to sit down and one of the first things you want to do is define what the goals of your system are…Just getting to that point is a big step forward…and making sure everybody is aligned with what those goals are before you get started when it comes to badges.
  • (52:58) We need to stop thinking about badges as just rewards. Think of them as being goals that people can set for themselves, or feedback for a performance. I think when we start thinking about them that way, it’s going to change how we design badge systems.
  • (53:40) Badges aren’t just stickers. A badge represents a quality that’s already there…badges represent that value.

From this Series:

View the Conversation
During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtags #connectedlearning and #dmlbadges.

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Carla Casilli is the Badge System Design Lead for Mozilla’s Open Badges. She works on developing badge systems—and helping other folks develop them, communicating experiences about badges and badge systems, and investigating where badge systems might lead.
  • Tara Tiger Brown is Founder of Los Angeles Makerspace, Technical Director for the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub, ‘Director of Awesome’ at, and part of the team at Connected Learning TV.
  • Kerri Lemoie is the Co-Founder & Chief Web Technologist at Codery, a consultancy that helps organizations build badge systems, create digital portfolios, and verify & assess new and emerging skills.
  • Lucas Blair is theFounder of Little Bird Games, the creators of ‘Badge Forge’.

Resources for this webinar:


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