Platforms & Technology Considerations

Photo: Ben Filio for The Sprout Fund

Here’s the good news about digital badging platforms: Badging platforms are encouraged to conform to the Open Badges Specification, which is a common language for talking about and issuing digital badges that has been developed since 2010 by leaders in the digital badging field. The bad news is, these platforms come and go, and they vary drastically in price and ease of use.

You can find specific information about different digital badging platforms on the Open Badges website. Feel free to browse that list and explore the features of each of the tools listed there. As you begin to discern what your needs are, you may find it helpful to reflect on the following considerations.

Badge Platform Criteria

Consider these criteria when assessing digital badging platforms. Make sure that the platform you choose meets your needs and the needs of those you serve.

  • Pick a badge platform that issues badges well. Issuing badges is different from other valuable elements of assessing learning, like connecting students with learning opportunities or sharing the results of their work. There are a wealth of other tools and websites that address these other needs; make sure your badging platform makes it easy for educators to issue badges and makes it easy for students to claim and share them.
  • Choose a platform that solves the problem you want to address. Do you need to take attendance? Do you need to help students track their progress through a series of activities? Pick a platform that helps you assess the particular learning outcomes that matter most. Don’t let a particular piece of technology dictate how you use badges with your programs.
  • Consider whether youth would want to use it. If the badge-issuing tool requires student input, is it easy to use? Does it look good and does it feel well designed? Will students realistically be able to use it in the context of your programs?
  • Explore tools that your peers are using. If people are already using digital badges in your region, what platforms or tools are they using? It’s helpful to be part of a user group engaged with this work: it can be rewarding for educators to collaborate and learn from one another, and it can be helpful for students to interact with the same system at multiple program sites.
  • Investigate badge endorsers in your region. It is also smart to consider a platform currently in use by higher education institutions and employers in your region. If admissions officers and hiring managers accept digital badges, find out how it might be appropriate or possible for your badges and the platform you use to align with the systems and pathways they have in place.
  • Assess your organization’s capacity. Make sure that the technology can be integrated into your organization’s workflow in a way that’s sustainable and feasible for program staff. Consider how much staff time will be required for training, technical assistance, and other ongoing needs related to the platform you choose. Also, if you choose a platform with a subscription fee, consider whether this tool is a sustainable long-term choice for your organization.
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