GK Badging

Six Ways to Look at Badging Systems Designed for Learning 


Six Ways to Look at Badging Systems Designed for Learning

Initiated by Barry Joseph, Global Kids, Inc.

Written by Barry with scores of others*



For over four years, Global Kids has developed badging systems within, after and outside of schools. We are currently designing a badging system for dozens of civic and cultural institutions within the Hive Learning Networks in New York City and Chicago, as well as throughout our organization. We have had a frontline view of the growing interest which has emerged over the past year in the development of badging systems across a wide range of formal and informal learning environments. We have also followed the rise of opposition, and sometimes confusion, about what digital badging looks like or is designed to accomplish. In this context we felt it might be useful to delineate the various interests we see aligning themselves with badges, or make distinctions amongst the different goals people have for them.


Digital Badges as “Transformative Assessment” 

In this recent blog post by Dan Hickey, "Digital Badges as 'Transformative Assessment,'" recent public work by Global Kids on digital badging systems was cited as one of the success factors for the ongoing Digital Media & Learning Badges Initiative. The full lists is as follows:

Global Kids Youth Badge Advisory Reflections 

It is embedded in the Global Kids mission to empower youth voice. When developing the badging system that will be used by the organization, it was without question that we needed a group of youth involved to aide in the process. For the past six weeks we have been meeting with committed Global Kids leaders who have been learning about digital badges and advising on how it would work with their peers. At our last meeting the youth took the time to reflect on what they learned and why they feel badges would be an asset to them and their fellow GK leaders. 


Check out their reflections below as well as special PSA's made by Jason and Giuseppe on digital badges. 





Key Questions for Global Kids Badge Development 

For the past few months, we’ve been meeting with a small group of Global Kids staff members called the Badges Fast Action Team or B-FAT. The group consists of five staff members who convene every other week to discuss big picture questions as we build out badges for ourorganization. So far, we've discussed what the overall badging schemata for Global Kids should look like, including what features there should be and what skills, abilities, accomplishments, etc. we want to badge. You can read about that in more detail here and a template of what it looks like here.


Most recently, we discussed two key questions:

1. Are their GK badges that we are offering to youth not in GK and GK badges that we want to certify other organizations to offer?

2. What is our process for rolling out the badges system and what challenges can we foresee?


Badge Advisory Meetings Continue 

As part of Global Kids’ ongoing badge development for our youth, we’ve been meeting monthly with a small number of staff members in a group we call the Badge Advisory.  After looking at GK’s organization-wide Outcomes and Indicators, we compiled a spreadsheet to input which indicators lent themselves well to badges.  We chose possible names and missions for indicators we badged and had discussions about which indicators would not make sense for our youth to earn badges for, but were still important for our staff.  For example, one indicator is that our youth increase their participation in school, but this didn’t necessarily make sense as a badge for us to give our youth.


Designing a Program-based Badging System at Global Kids 

When we began the badge development process at Global Kids, we focused heavily on "global"-badges, which is to say badges which could work across the institution. We looked at our organizational Outcomes & Indicators, and developed a process for analyzing nearly four dozen letters of recommendation. While that process continues, and is bearing fruit, a parallel process has moved faster and may be proving more productive: developing "local"-badges, or program-specific badges.


Today we had our first meeting (dare we say of our fourth badging group - the Badge Betas?) of the four summer projects which will beta test the program over the summer. There are two 2-week long digital media-based programs, a 3-week long intensive camp at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a four week trip to Kenya. We developed templates for creating badges - one for any individual badge and one for the constellation of badges that are to found within any one Global Kids program (and tied to the "role badge" earned in the process), designed to produce something like this:


Using Outcomes and Indicators to Shape Organizational Badges 

Today we held second meeting of the Global Kids Badge ADvisory (or, B-AD for short). This is a meeting open to all GK staff members to offer feedback on and consult in a meaningful way about the development of the GK badging system.



After reviewing the latest version of the GK Badge Design Schemata, we focused on how we could use the GK Outcomes and Indicators, developed during a strategic planning process, to create organizational-wide GK badges. (Meanwhile, the youth are using the letters of recommendation to suggest other organizational-wide badges and, in a parallel process, other staff will be creating program-specific badges.)


Staff noted all sorts of interesting things in their generally successful attempt to build badges from the indicators.


Badge-A-Palooza at GK 

This past week has been a veritable badge-a-palooza. The only reason we had four separate badge meetings was because the fifth was postponed for a week when an earlier meeting ran over.  Phew!


Global Kids' Youth Badge Advisory


Last Thursday, Daria and I were so excited to launch the first meeting of the GK youth advisory. This group will ensure that GK youth leaders are playing a key and substantive role in the development of the GK badging system. 



Yesterday we held our second B-FAT meeting (Badge Advisory Team), the small internal group of senior staff that is overseeing and consulting on the GK badging process. It was quite an enlightening meeting. All sorts of interesting issues came to the surface, we affirmed out and refined our badging process, and developed an interesting badging framework we could now test out.


We started off sharing the results of our homework. First some staff “interviewed” their kids and spouses about the games they played and the badge-like features they encountered; we compare and contrasted that with our understanding of how our “badges for learning” plans related to game mechanics.


How Global Kids is Developing Badges for Global Kids Youth Leaders 

Last month, Global Kids received funds from the MacArthur Foundation to, in part, develop badges for global citizenship and civic participation, and to integrate a badging systems into Global Kids' programming.


So how do you create badges? And how to you create a badging system to certify those badges and give them meaning to both youth recipients and those outside Global Kids to whom they might be shared?


We began this process by creating three seperate groups, all to collaborate with and support the internal development team working with the good folks at LearningTimes (our badge development partner).