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Looking for a New Incentive Program? Try Badges
posted by: Ruthie | August 21, 2013, 06:39 PM   


If only because of the popularity of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, nearly everyone is familiar with the concept of badges.  Even if you’ve never participated in these programs, at the mention of ‘badges’ you probably visualize a sash with round pieces of embroidered cloth sown on.  This rather old-school way of showing off a person’s accomplishments transitioned into the computer age through the creation of digital badges, and now these digital badges are emerging in schools across the country as a way to incentive students.


Why try digital badges?

Using digital badges accomplishes two important goals.  First, they act as an incentive.  The idea of earning a special reward that can be displayed encourages students to complete the task it takes to get that reward.  This is why digital badges emerged early on in video games.  They’re a way to keep players motivated and playing the game.  Watching others earn and be rewarded with badges is a motivation as well.  It can cause the student to think, “If they can do that, so can I.”  Finally, they can be used to break down large assignments, like a research paper, into smaller steps with badges used to mark steps along the way.


The second goal ties into the first: by using badges, accomplishments can be recognized in specific ways and beyond just using letter grades.  Badges can be given for things like: being polite, showing up on time, class participation, finishing major projects, and any number of small accomplishments.  These things often feed into classroom accomplishments, but aren’t recognized as often.  By creating a way to recognize them, students have more immediate motivation to complete them.  Also, by creating non-grade related recognition, we have a way to celebrate our students’ individuality.  One student can earn a badge for incorporating art into a project, while another can earn a badge for their writing ability.  Each student has a chance at being recognized for what they do best.  By combining badges with proficiency based educational programs, you can even give students a method through which they individualize their education (much in the way that scouts individualize their education).

How do they work?

Integrating badges into your classroom is actually relatively easy to do.  It begins by sitting down and making a list of goals that you would like your students to accomplish.  This list should include things that are clear and specific.  For example, “be on time every day two weeks in a row” instead of “be on time on a consistent basis.”  They should also be aligned to your grade and subject area, and include a mix of easy and challenging goals.  You can also include more random goals that might normally be given out for extra credit.

Once you’ve decided what badges to give, you need to decide how you’ll be giving them out and design them.  Websites like Class Badges are an all-inclusive way to integrate badges into your classroom.  However, you can also use sites and programs like Badgestack, or OpenBadges to create badges that can be shared via other online mediums or printed out and used physically in your classroom. 

To learn more about using badges in your classroom, read The Teacher’s Guide To Using Badges In Your Classroom by Edudemic or Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Badging in the Classroom--Our Definitive Guide by
T.H.E. Journal.

 

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