50 Ideas for Issuing Badges in Education

Maybe you’ve heard people talk about badges in education, but how do educators actually use them in a school setting? Prompted by a recent conversation about different possible uses for badges in K-12 schools, I started brainstorming a list based on badge ideas that I’ve seen along with some new possibilities. Here is the result. Following are 50 possibilities for issuing badges in education. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, so please add those that come to mind or others that you’ve seen (or used).

I didn’t attempt to put these badge ideas into any taxonomy, and there is ample overlap in the list. While I might build upon this rough draft list at some point, the main purpose now is just to get us thinking, to help educators (including myself) and others consider the many options for building a badge ecosystem that supports different goals and visions in schools. Having an item in the list is not an endorsement, but thinking through the potential role of each type of badge in your organization still has value. Even if you think one badge type is not a good fit for your context, thinking through such possibilities is a great way to clarify or confirm your school mission, vision, values, and goals.

Finally, I encourage you to consider how mixing and layering these different types of badges might have value. A memory badge might seem a bit simple, but imagine what happens when you mix it with a life application badge. Or, consider the potential of blending experience, membership and contribution badges to provide a broader picture of someone’s learning journey. These are some of the very items that Universities are looking for in top applicants, not to mention the fact that such combinations make for interesting people.

Enough with the introductory comments. Let’s get started. Happy thinking and badging!

  1. Contribution Badge – Issued to people who demonstrate a substantive contribution to a learning community.
  2. Competency-based Badge – Issued for demonstrating that you have reached a certain competency tied to a course or independent of a course (criterion-referenced).
  3. Standards-based Badge – Issued upon providing evidence that you have met a given standard for a program or professional organization.
  4. Recommendation Badge – Issued based upon nominations or recommendations of individuals who speak to your accomplishment or achievement.
  5. Experience Badge – Issued to recognize your active engagement and persistence with a meaningful / valued experience.
  6. Attendance Badge – Issued for proving or verifying attendance at an event deemed important for key stakeholders.
  7. Progress Badge – Issued to recognize relative progress in some area of learning. This is about recognizing improvement from where I started.
  8. Stand Out Badge – Issued to recognize commendable character, contribution or achievement in comparison to a peer group (norm-referenced).
  9. Impact Badge – Issued to recognize a tangible impact or benefit provided to an individual, group, community, or cause.
  10. Termination Badge – Automatically issued at the beginning of a learning experience with a set expiration date. The learner much earn a “permanent” or more persistent badge before the badge expires.
  11. Compliance Badge – Issued to recognize that the recipient completed mandatory training or other requirements (as in blood borne pathogen training).
  12. Access Badge – Issued to recognize that the learner meets minimum requirements necessary for access to something else.
  13. Belt Badge – Issued to recognize achievements aligned with reaching the next level (think of how belts are issued in martial arts).
  14. Translation Badge – This badge is issued to recognize an existing accomplishment or skill, but it is translated into a “language” that is better valued or understood by a new audience.
  15. Duplicate Credential Badge – This badge is issued to recognize obtaining some other credential, allowing one to share a verification of the other credential in a digital context (diploma badge displayed on LinkedIn).
  16. Collective Recognition Badge – Issued to a group of individuals or an organization to recognize some achievement or exemplary work.
  17. Award Badge – Issued as an award, prize or public recognition.
  18. Grit Badge – Issued to recognize persistence or tenacity toward some goal that may yet be achieved.
  19. Risk-Taking Badge – Issued to recognize commendable and noteworthy failed efforts.
  20. Disposable Badge – Issued for fun and playful purposes that may have no ongoing value beyond the fun of issuing and receiving it.
  21. Thank You Badge – Issued as a form of personal thanks and recognition for help.
  22. Competition Badge – A badge issued to recognize winners and other “high-ranking” people in some competitive endeavor.
  23. Performance Badge – A badge issued to recognize some public performance, presentation, etc.
  24. Creation / Builder Badge – Badge issued to recognize completion or contribution of a creative work.
  25. Goal Badge – A badge issued to recognize achievement of a personal learning goal.
  26. Apprenticeship Badge – This one is issued to recognize milestones and completion of an apprenticeship for a given period.
  27. Mastery Badge – Similar to a competency badge, this is issued upon demonstration of achieving progress toward or full mastery (potentially used in conjunction with an apprenticeship badge).
  28. Volunteer Badge – This is issued to recognize completion of volunteer service for a given project, achievement of an organization’s goals, or for a time period.
  29. Loyalty Badge – This badge is issued to recognize evidence of loyalty to a cause, organization or role.
  30. Transcript / Credit-based Badge – These badges are issued for academic achievements and used similar to courses listed on a school transcript. Sometimes they are used primarily within an organization to track student completion of requirements toward graduation or the next level. Other badges can build up to one of these badges.
  31. Peer Review Badge – These badges are issued by peers as part of their review of a project, paper or another artifact. As an example, they can be set up so that students must obtain three peer review badges (with attached testimonials) before submitting for teacher review.
  32. Reviewer Badge – This badge recognizes one’s qualifications to serve as a reviewer of certain work by co-learners in the community. One can create levels for this badge, progressively increasingly a person’s ability to review more complex work and projects.
  33. Retrospect Badges – This is a badge created and issued after the fact to document or recognize an accomplishment or something else that you want to give a visibility boost. It is also a way to recognize interest-driven, unplanned and unexpected, or serendipitous learning.
  34. Artifact Container Badge – This is a badge issued in recognition of some artifact or accomplishment, but the substance is actually in the artifact created by the learner. The badge is more just a way of organizing and sharing the work. Some of us argue that the artifact is and should usually be given more weight).
  35. Membership Badge – This is a badge issued to recognize membership in a club, team organization or other group.
  36. Curricular Building Block Badge – This is a badge used to design and organize the curriculum in a given school or program. It may be less about issuing the badge and more about using badge-size curricular elements (usually tied to objectives, competencies or requirements), used for managing curricular revisions, personalized pathways, and more. Badges can be clustered and stacked to achieve curricular needs as well.
  37. Problem Solver Badge – Issued for identify and solving substantial problems within the learning environment or even in the community (or beyond).
  38. Riddle / Puzzle Badge – A badge is issued when a puzzle or riddle is solved, opening up access to the next clue. Completion of the entire game results is a final badge.
  39. Challenge Badge – A series of challenges are created and learners receive badges as they complete different challenges.
  40. Life Application Badge – This badge is issued upon providing evidence that a concept in school was applied to solve a real world problem or challenge outside of school (some schools might, for example, require earning a certain number of these badges in a course).
  41. Memorization & Reception Badge – Not necessarily popular in some learning contexts today, this badge recognizes progress toward or evidence of memorizing valuable knowledge or information. For critics, consider mixing this with the life application badge.
  42. Experiment Badge – This badge is issued for creating and conducting an experiment, and reporting on the results.
  43. Uncaged Learning Badge – This is a badge issued by an issuer outside of the school that aligns with school requirements/goals or is recognized within the learning organization as part of an individual or group student learning plan. This often works as or in conjunction with a retrospect badge.
  44. Planning Badge – While planning is a discrete skill, this badge is used to surface the important strategic and planning efforts that go on behind the scenes of other projects or accomplishments.
  45. Reflective Practice Badge – This is a badge granted to recognize that a learner is demonstrating confidence and competence in using reflective practice to improve in one or more areas.
  46. Trait Badge – This is a badge issued to recognize someone for embodying or modeling a valued attribute or trait (leadership, curiosity, etc.).
  47. Cooperation & Collaboration Badge – Recognition of playing a valuable and substantive role to accomplish a team goal or task.
  48. Personal Learning Network / Online Identity Management Badge – This badge does not necessarily recognize new learning or accomplishments but instead focuses on building meaningful connections and a lifelong learning network that can be tapped to accomplish various learning goals.
  49. Title Badge – This is a badge issued to assign a title and recognize a role within the learning community (class president, field trip coordinator, or something new and creative). This can be used to document service and leadership for a given timeframe as well.
  50. Ticket Badge – This badge is issued as a ticket into some event or opportunity. It might be earned, randomly issued, provided based upon a variety of criteria.
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About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is the author of Missional Moonshots, Assistant Vice President of Academics, Associate Professor of education, and a frequent keynote speaker and consultant on topics related to educational innovation and entrepreneurship, futures in education, and the intersection of education and digital culture. Opinions expressed here do not reflect those of his primary employer(s).