eLearning Badges: Benefits and Best Practices

By Katy Mullin, Director of Course Development at Scitent

eLearning badges

In eLearning, we’re always looking for effective ways to engage learners. A digital badge is a visual token of achievement in the online learning environment. Awarding badges as part of your online course is a way to acknowledge your learners’ accomplishments – both big and small – as they work their way through your course or certification.

Executed properly, badging can enhance learner engagement by motivating them to continue through the curriculum to earn the next badge level. Additionally, the process of creating achievement badge milestones throughout your curriculum requires you to have a clarity of purpose for your content. This helps keep you, as the learning solutions designer, on track throughout content development. It also benefits your learners by giving them visual cues about the learning landscape ahead. In addition, badging also taps into a basic human trait that exists at some level within all of us – competition. Badging motivates learners to “level up” and earn that next badge.

Not only does badging enhance your learners’ experience, it also provides an important benefit by bolstering your brand and the credibility of your online courses. Badging gives your learners an easy and visual way to extend your reach and reputation by sharing their success on social sites like LinkedIn. They can post their earned badges on their page and, by touting their achievements in this very social way, your course is promoted organically to other potential learners.

So, now that you understand what badging is and how it benefits learners and your organization, I’d like to share some best practices to keep in mind as you plan to incorporate your own achievement badges:

  • Clearly map badges to skills and topics
    Get clear on the purpose and overall goal of your course by identifying your learning objectives and the respective topics/skills. Then, you can clearly map those to a badge that is representative of a skill your course teaches.
  • Build badge difficulty
    At the beginning of your course, you’ll want to make the badges achievable, by awarding a badge for simply completing the online learner profile, for instance. But as the course progresses, you’ll want to make the badges more difficult – though not impossible – to achieve.
  • Know your audience
    The approach you take with your badge awards will depend largely on the pool of learners you are targeting. If you are creating content for engineers or physicians, for example, you might consider incorporating a leader board to engage these individuals who tend to be highly competitive.  
  • Partner with associations
    There’s a big movement toward the ability to transfer badges across an industry, which can be a powerful way to give your badges – and ultimately your eLearning content – “legs.” For example, a course for bookkeepers could be structured so after achieving a badge at a certain level, the learner becomes eligible for a certification from a CPA organization. By striking partnerships such as these, you will be able to offer additional value to your learners who not only obtain your badge, but also can achieve additional certifications for professional advancement.

Do you have questions about how to incorporate badges in your eLearning content? Leave comments below, or contact us to learn more.

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