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Learning Journeys in Higher Education: Designing Digital Pathways Badges for Learning, Motivation and Assessment

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Foundation of Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials


Educators worldwide are witnessing a change in thinking concerning digital learning, teaching and assessment resources as well as the theories and practices connected to making claims about learning based on digital evidence. These shifts are occurring as three elements have combined to form new digital pathways for learning: (1) self-organizing learning groups, (2) digital badges, and (3) changing conceptions of higher education. This chapter outlines three primary roles of digital badges for supporting learning journeys in higher education: bringing visibility and transparency to learning, teaching and assessment; revealing meaningful, identifiable and detailed aspects of learning for all stakeholders; and providing a new mechanism to recognize skills, experience and knowledge through an open, transferable, stackable technology framework. The possibilities for these roles are explored via distinct phases of the journey of learning referred to as ‘paths into learning,’ ‘paths during learning’ and ‘lifelong learning pathways.’ The role of badges as competency credentials and as bridges from informal to formal learning processes elevates the potential of digital badges for transforming teaching, learning and assessment in higher education. Team-based development processes and design decisions for creating badge systems for motivating learning are reviewed based on cases stemming from a national study of micro-credentialing in Australia, and the chief instructional approaches and impacts are briefly outlined, with examples from the cases, namely designing badges for learning processes, integrating badges into eportfolio practices, developing autonomy and self-regulation of learners, and utilizing badges for both internal and open external symbols of accomplishment.

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This chapter began as discussions and cross institutional discourse about emerging practice supported by an Office for Learning and Teaching Strategic Commissioned Project led by Professor Beverley Oliver, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Deakin University, Melbourne Australia. The project: Curate, Credential and Carry Forward Digital Learning Evidence partnered Deakin University, Curtin University, HASTAC, AAEEBL, Cisco, CRA, Telstra, Badge Alliance and ESA to provide advice, case studies and good practice guides on the changing landscape of digital credentialing in higher education. Project resources can be found at

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Correspondence to David Gibson .

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Appendix: OBI Metadata Structure

Appendix: OBI Metadata Structure

The structure of the OBI metadata is open to anyone who is interested, and is composed of two essential parts, the experience in h projectcess of ‘baking’ the assertion into the .png file. The assertion (Table 7.4) is in a sense a container with five required elements (uid, recipient, badge, verify, and issuedOn) and three optional elements (image, evidence, expires). The expected data types for all the elements have further specifications, and these are then used in the baking process to ensure a trustworthy exchange of a badge between an issuer, a recipient and the public consumer or reader of the badge.

Table 7.4 Badge assertion
Table 7.5 Badge class

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Gibson, D., Coleman, K., Irving, L. (2016). Learning Journeys in Higher Education: Designing Digital Pathways Badges for Learning, Motivation and Assessment. In: Ifenthaler, D., Bellin-Mularski, N., Mah, DK. (eds) Foundation of Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials. Springer, Cham.

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