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How to build a badging program

Districts have several options when introducing a badging program.

For students, the process tends to be more intricate because these badges, often awarded for soft skills and career-preparation activities, contain metadata that details what students did to earn the badges. Such higher-tech “open badges” can be shared on social media and live on an online platform such as Credly, Mozilla or Badgr.

Districts are advised to go through the graphic design process to create high-quality badges that drive engagement—rather than using stock art.


Link to main story: Badging breakthroughs


Many districts start by awarding badges in a single or small group of courses and gradually expand over a few years.

San Diego USD leaders started planning their badging strategy by identifying the skills and competencies they wanted to reward, and then added the programs and activities for students. Administrators talked to local employers about the skills their employees need, says Genevieve Clark, the district’s director of teaching and learning support.

“We have to sit down with industry partners and ask what they value in their organizations and how can we backward-map these skills so kids are engaging with them at a very young age,” Clark says.

On the PD side, some districts design their own low-tech badges in topics such as digital citizenship and tech troubleshooting which teachers can add to their email signatures or print out to post in their classrooms.

It starts with simple graphic design work to create the actual badges. Then, some districts grant the badges as part of formal PD sessions.

In other school systems, when badges aren’t included in PD, a member of the tech team can track trainings and reward teachers with badges for new skills learned. In both cases, administrators have to do a little marketing to make teachers aware of the badges.

For example, districts have encouraged participation by posting online leaderboards that show teachers who have earned the most badges. Teachers can also earn badges through district PD providers, such as Participate.

But the company doesn’t simply give teachers a badge for passing a course, they must show evidence—a video of their classroom, for instance—of having used what they learned.

“We want to demonstrate that what teachers are learning from PD is being utilized in their work,” says David Young, the CEO at Participate.