Learn. Earn. Display. – The Potential of Digital Badging

Culture of Learning

Imagine being able to gain a new skill, knowledge, and ability whenever the need (or interest) arose. Such access would support a culture of learning across an organization that is not necessarily defined by seats, spaces, or even schedules. Any individual could embrace formal or informal learning opportunities based on personal interest or motivation. Wouldn’t that be something worth exploring?


Just a sampling of potential digital badges at Green River College.

The Best of Both Worlds

Learning today can take place at any time, at any location, and on a variety of devices. It is not limited to formal training sessions or designated professional development days. It is not confined to four walls of a classroom, but supported through both virtual and face-to-face learning environments. It is the combination of these two environments where the most potential resides.

Online learning environments take advantage of technology readily available to deliver materials and experiences to every end user on their time. Face-to-face environments support critical thinking, communication, and peer collaboration that helps foster a community of learners.


Completing a competency-based course results in the awarding of a digital badge.

What would it look like if an organization developed content for online delivery and focused on creating a rich face-to-face experience for learners? That organization would clearly define and recognize competencies and allow individuals to explore their own learning pathways.

Digital Badging Potential

Digital badges, just like printed certificates, recognize accomplishments of a particular individual. Whereas printed certificates are usually based on face-to-face interaction (a time-based model), digital badges are based solely on specific competencies achieved. Because of this difference, digital badges can easily be utilized to recognize service, volunteer hours, cultural diversity, leadership and supervision, and other non-academic achievements. Furthermore, badges could support both stacked (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced levels) and latticed (variety of topics) credentials.


Example of a stacked approached to digital badging at Green River.

Digital badges provide and support an important motivational element that is necessary for many learners. Why would anyone sit through an optional course or professional development workshop if there was no recognition of achievement? The badges themselves provide an incentive to achieve (intrinsic motivation) and can be shared with peers via social media (extrinsic motivation).

Furthermore, digital badges establish digital credentials, which are quickly becoming a necessary part of any individual’s online presence. Did you know that LinkedIn recognizes certifications and displays links to badge ecosystems (earned competencies, issuing authority, and earner credentials)? Have you displayed your certificates earned yet?


Certifications on LinkedIn are now a part of your online identity.

Green River College Business Goals

Exploration of competency-based courses and digital badging is currently just a proposed vision to support a culture of learning at Green River College. Just a few of these courses (and badges) have been fully developed thus far. The potential however exists for a much wider implementation upon successful “proof of concept” completion.

To be truly successful through a system-wide deployment, competency-based courses and digital badging must meet specific business goals. Key business goals include:

  1. Deliver innovative eLearning experiences through clearly stated objectives, rich media integration, and assessments that encourage individuals to continue learning.
  2. Improve access to professional development opportunities that align with college’s core values through open courses.
  3. Collaborate across departments to design, develop, implement, and evaluate training initiatives that appeal to the widest audience possible.
  4. Share completed courses and established best practices with other institutions across our state.

Potential Course Topics

At Green River College there are many training initiatives that could benefit from the combination of competency-based courses and digital badging. These initiatives span new and existing employees, faculty, classified staff, exempt personnel, and even students. Potential course categories could include Human Resources, Personal Safety, Student Success, Student Leadership, Cultural Diversity, and more (see image below).

Example of a latticed approached to digital badging at Green River.

Example of a latticed approached to digital badging at Green River.

Challenges We Face

This proposal is not a quick fix for all training needs. It is also not a means to replace the need for face-to-face workshops, which would still be required for different instructional purposes. It is simply an approach to build interest and motivate individuals to complete an ever-increasing list of professional development topics. Some of the key challenges we face include:

  • Ensuring consistency in course design
  • Targeted total course run times (less than one hour)
  • Course design and development hours
  • Rich-media content creation

Thank You. Gracias.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this proposal. I look forward to officially launching some of the courses that are currently in development in collaboration with subject matter experts across campus. Lastly, I look forward to learning, earning, and displaying badges received at Green River College!

Further Exploration