Badges / Conference / Education / eLearning / Instructional Design / Open Educational Resources

Finding Inspiration: Badges for Education and Learning

Boy Scout Handbook

“They symbolize the adventure of the out-of-doors and achievement in skill and service. They stand for qualities of personality, character, and leadership. They are not awards for competition…The Insignia are recognition of achievement by the individual in meeting fixed standards. They will serve to inspire him toward further achievement in Scouting.”

-Boy Scouts of America Handbook, September 1945.

Packing up the few boxes of my personal belongings in preparation of my move to Mountain View last week, an old tattered book caught my attention. A beautiful painting by Norman Rockwell graced the cover, and although the edges were worn, the book was all in one piece.  Handbook for Boys read the title.  I thumbed through the pages and found exactly what I was looking for.  Instructions for you: Please stop and go re-read the quote above, but replace “him” with “them” and “scouting” with the word “learning”.

That sounds nice, huh? For most educators and trainers, it will.

Regardless of age, sex, ethicity, creed, or any potential factors for discrimination, badges for education and learning can inspire learners to achieve more. I like the sound of that.

Scholarship Merit Badge

Turning further through the handbook, I found more than seventy pages describing the various badges that could be earned by a scout.  Badges range in topic from aeronautics to journalism to zoology, all with standardized criteria that must be met for the earner to gain the achievement.  It’s worth mentioning again that badges are not assessments, but rather symbols of achievement for having met the criteria of the badges, which may include multiple assessments or having previously earned a series of badges that lead to an “umbrella” badge (for lack of a better word).  In the handbook, the criteria all begin with my favorite kind of word: verbs.

Action words

Make, prepare, present, read, explain, describe, show, tell…give.  In my instructional design training, we were taught to describe the criteria for how learning goals could be outlined.  When following the A-B-C-D method, the Audience (learner), Behavior (performed action), Condition (with/out prompts, aids, materials), and Degree (time limits, accuracy, quality) are described.  The scout handbook’s descriptions of criteria for earning badges nearly all include the A-B-C-D’s required to earn the badge, which can also be described when designing badges that meet Mozilla’s OBI requirements.  See where I’m going with this?

Do you have an idea for a badge?  Maybe you’re just curious about the badges others have made.  I suggest you head on over to and try your hand at creating a badge using the free badge builder on the site.  You have nothing to lose!

ISTE 2012 and Badges

Are you attending the ISTE conference in San Diego this coming week (June 24-27)? Come find me and I’ll give you a “Curious Badger” badge sticker that you can redeem online and place in your badge backpack.  Greg, Anya, Kristin, and Les have been working hard over there to develop a truly open badge creator that meets the needs folks in many learning, training, and certification environments.  Feedback on the site is welcome as well!

Curious Badger Badge for ISTE 2012

I’m fortunate to have found the Boy Scout Handbook, and am grateful that so much thought was put into the way Mozilla’s badging infrastructure is being developed.  If you’re interested in lending a hand or providing feedback on the Open Badges project, right now is a great time to join the conversation :]

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