Getting Started with Digital Badges

Community Champion

I recently researched the use of digital badges with a focus on using them for professional development. I’m posting some of the research in case it might be useful to anyone else in the Canvas community.


Planning (Badge Planning Considerations)

In Digital Badges: Principles and Standards of Quality for Recognizing Learning, the Michigan Department of Education (2015) recommends that we:

  • Align badges to national or international standards
  • Connect the badges to learning paths that contain multiple levels / competencies
  • Make the badges permanent
  • Recognize educator learning (teachers are role models when they post badges to display their own learning)


Structuring (Higher Education Examples)

North Virginia Community Colleges (NOVA) and the University of Louisiana implemented digital badging for professional development to motivate teachers to use technology for learning (WCET, 2017). NOVA emphasizes asynchronous/synchronous faculty workshops over in-person training and use badges for faculty evaluations, promotions, appointments, portfolios and social media. The University of Louisiana aligned digital badges to their existing training paths, tenure, promotion, teaching and service. They started with one digital credential in 2016 and added three more by 2017. Indiana University has three tiers for their digital badges (Hart, 2015):

  1. Basic: faculty learning the technology and consulting with their learning center.
  2. Proficient: faculty implement the technology, collect data and share the results with colleagues.
  3. Advanced: faculty implement at a higher level, such as peer reviews and/or sharing outside their institution.


Selecting (Canvas & Digital Badges)

For anyone just starting out with digital badges in Canvas, it is easy to eliminate Canvabadges from consideration because they are no longer maintained.


Badgr appears to be the most popular platform used in Canvas, according to user comments about Badges that integrate and have partnerships with Canvas.


Platforms to consider along with Badgr are Open Badge Factory, Credly and BadgeSafe. Although I’m not yet using digital badges in Canvas, I think there are some good reasons to seriously consider Badgr. According to the Badgr website, we can try out Badgr on a test server or beta server before installing on a production server.


Some of the Badgr benefits according to the Canvas Community:

  • Includes a simple Badge designer or we can upload an image
  • User-friendly method of assigning badges to modules. Includes a progress tracker.
  • Free and can be added in Canvas at the Account level.
  • Easy-to-use: Automatic issuing of badges when requirements are met.
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Leaderboard default lists alias names - students can decide to show their real names
  • Supports open badges  
  • Can display badges on a profile. Students can create an account at to share badges to social media.
  • Badgr Pro is available for a fee and includes analytics.



I tried out Badgr by creating a digital badge that anyone can earn by remixing this Online Discussions OER. Feel free to remix the OER and earn a badge! Let me know if you have any questions or problems since I'm new to OER and to badging. Although Badgr allows us to upload an image, I used one of their existing badge graphics. One thing I learned trying out Badgr is that it’s not a good idea to make changes after a badge is awarded. In that situation, we should create a new badge with the new criteria. 


A helpful graphic that shows the anatomy of a digital badge:

Anatomy of an Open Badge




Biray Seitz. (2016, April 6). Badging Platforms for Canvas. Retrieved December 26, 2017, from


Hart, M. (2015, January 14). Badges: A New Measure of Professional Development. Retrieved December 26, 2017, from


Michigan Department of Education. (2015). Digital Badges: Principles And Standards Of Quality For Recognizing Learning . Retrieved from

WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET). (2017) Digital Credentials for Faculty Professional Development. Retrieved December 26, 2017, from 

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