Hive Chicago Badges for Learning

Christian Greer, Program Director for HIVE Chicago recently wrote a great summary of the work that has been done with the Chicago badging system. Check it out below! 



Wow! It's been a very busy summer for our Hive Chicago member organizations. We have facilitated jams, game design workshops, citizen science projects, teen-led community events, youth council programs, and many other engaging activities with our teens. With the Labor Day holiday weekend fast approaching and our summer programs completed, I thought that I would check in this week with few member organizations to see how things went over the summer.


Yesterday I dropped by Radio Arte ( in Pilsen to sit in on a badge development planning session with Adriana Diaz and Kimberly Richards. They have been working diligently to create a new training model for their educators and a new curriculum for their teens. One of the features of their curriculum model is the inclusion of a custom-designed badging system that also aligns to Common Core standards and CPS learning goals. (

Over the past few months, Radio Arte pilot tested a badging system, which was informed by the work of Global Kids (Hive NYC). It also incorporated some of the badging methods employed by the Digital Youth Network. Radio Arte's pilot included an online technology tool ( for monitoring and awarding tokens and badges. Although using the new tool was a challenge, Radio Arte was able tosuccessfully implement their summer badging pilot with their teens.

The pilot program also inspired Radio Arte educators to hold themselves to consistent teaching and learning standards that could be effectively evaluated.

The process for implementing the badge pilot had four phases:

  • Phase 1: Use story planning tool without any rubric/ pre-assessment of how students give feedback
  • Phase 2: Use story planning tools with rubric
  • Phase 3: Second round of badges and modify revise
  • Phase 4: Revisions and reflections

In order to acquire tokens and badges, students worked on two separate activities where they provided constructive criticism to their peers.

On the Hive Chicago Badge Google Site, Adriana Diaz wrote:

"We found that students were quick to understand the concept of badging and they knew how to use the system. Yet it is important to take the time at the beginning of a program to ensure that all the youth, instructor, administrators, and reviewers are all on the same page with respect to the rubrics, activities, badging system and using Badge Stack. Having a face-to-face conversation and possibly more development around badging with the instructors before integrating these elements into the program are essential. Once the purpose and process for participating and sharing work steps was described, the youth understood what the badges were about, and their faces, “lit up.” Overall, instructors need to be intentional when integrating badges and the Badge stack platform into their activities. Likewise, youth need to be motivated to engage and to also see value in participating in this process."

Overall, I was very excited to learn just how far Radio Arte had progressed in such a short time. From the initial badge workshop in June to completing a badge program with new curriculum, Radio Arte was able to explore the power and pitfalls of using badges in programs.

We all know that there are often a considerable amount of challenges that come along with implementing a pilot project like this, but if organizations are willing to experiment with new methods and processes to find the most effective solution, the rewards could be great. Radio Arte's model is one that can be replicated as we develop our own unique badges with an eye towards establishing a network-level badging system for Hive Chicago.