Incentivising Student Progress via Badging

In José A. Bowen‘s Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (2012), he talks about Higher Ed institutions investing in gamification tools to increase student engagement and intrinsic motivation. He references the Sweet Water Foundation’s Aquapons project that incentivises STEAM based apprenticeship style learning with an online badging system. The project was funded by Digital Media and Learning Competition which encourages the “development of badge systems and their supporting technological and learning infrastructure to improve academic achievement, economic opportunity, civic engagement, and opportunities for lifelong learning” (

The Aquapons project had as it’s initial goal to create a “robust badging ecosystem where traditional and 21st century skills and achievements are inspired, recognized, translated across contexts, and displayed and managed across the web” using Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (Bowen 2012, p. 258). Here is a short video explaining the Open Badges project by Mozilla:

What interests me about this badging project is how well they seem to be engaging students in hands-on learning while at the same time integrating assessment, mentorship and the idea of progress through a series of levels and achievements. They do this by using an online open resources such as Open Badges. From a student perspective, I can imagine myself have a clear view of the extent of progress I need to make in any given field of study, which would be outlined visually by a series of digital badges I need to earn. Then I could also imagine that it would be quite a proud moment to be able to display on my website, LinkedIn profile or share via social media the badge I would earn.


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