You can’t just put a badge on it. (Day 2)

For a while now I’ve been interested in the idea of using badges as an alternative assessment method. I mentioned it a few years ago as the possible basis of a different way of working for a Yr 7 IT curriculum (an idea that didn’t get implemented for a whole range of reasons I won’t go into here). I was fascinated by Zoe Ross’s work at TLAB a couple of years ago, and I always read with interest what Doug Belshaw has to say on the subject.

But as the idea of e-badges or open badges becomes more widespread, so I’ve started to hear them described as a quick fix solution to badly thought through learning outcomes.

Teacher’s don’t want to engage with training? We could give them badges.

Students aren’t engaged in some poorly thought out, tacked on curriculum? We could give them badges.


We could. But it won’t work.


The problem here isn’t the badges, it’s that the learning path is badly designed.

By all means think about what badges can offer in terms of wider accreditation or in terms of displaying achievements. But don’t just think you can stick a badge on it like sticking plaster and it’ll all be ok. Because the badge only counts if people want to wear it. If they’re proud of what they’ve achieved or they see a value in it.

I’d love to hear from anyone making really good use of badges in learning.


This post is in part inspired by Richard Byrne’s post yesterday.

Image credit: Nerd Merit Badges shipment by Hyperdashery badges. CC Licensed on

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