Designing Digital Badges

The idea of designing a digital badge should be daunting. Much like how there’s a lot of discussion that web design is too complicated now (with front-end specialists. back-end specialists, UI, UX, branding, Javascript rockstars, and so on), designing a badge is a complex task. With a learning outcome, it’s fairly straight forward, you gather together a couple of sentences that express what you hope the learner to accomplish in a period of time. I’m drastically simplifying the writing of a learning outcome, because there’s great nuance in a truly well-written one. And there’s lots of ambiguity in poorly written ones…

With that said, badges are much like a learning outcome, plus all these other, sometimes complex, visual ideas that can entirely sabotage your badge before anyone has earned it. Is the badge ugly to the one who might earn it? They’re unlikely to be motivated and it could turn them off learning in your context.

With all that said I’m not a design expert, but I have bookmarked quite a few sites that give differing opinions on what a shape, color, design or visual idea might mean. If you’ve studies semiotics, you’ll fully understand that this is really a brief and cursory view of a deep and nuanced subject. If you’re a visual designer, you’ll really understand that there’s a lot for people to dig into with building a badge. This is just a taste to get your palate satiated, just a start to get the creative ideas flowing…

Understanding Shapes Better

Understanding Colour Better

Online Badge Design Kits

Badge Design Worksheets

Free Icons



What I Learned This Week (Part 11)

Org flowchart for responding to comments on Facebook (or other social media): This blog post has been making the rounds, with good reason. Common sense often requires a flowchart.

David Carson, principle designer of Ray Gun magazine, talks about design: Not just about design, but the emotionality of design. I’m struck by his photographic style – which is a different piece all together, but I was particularly piqued by his statement about intuition, and how it’s discounted in higher education. Also at the end of the talk is that people’s experience is what makes a difference.

Another posting on the web that talks about the shift we’re in the middle of (or behind the curve of, depending on who you listen to). I’m looking forward to the time that we have USB keys and teachers that share things digitally too.

Another Design To Address Change

Websites are (sometimes) designed for interaction and flow.

Books are designed for readability.

E-learning is designed for….information transmission?

This is certainly the belief I have. LMS’s as a whole are systems that encourage transmission rather than other methods of learning. The collaboration tools are not the greatest, nor are they immediately present. If they do exist, they are workarounds, hacks, expansion ideas or afterthoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I like hacking around in the systems we use to figure out how to do something. Some systems make it hard to do so, some accept that their existence is a framework that you build on.

I think that the LMS is already entrenched in higher education and will continue to serve a role in education. I don’t think we’ll fully go to distributed resources of knowledge, aggregated by RSS feeds and pipes. LMS use may drop, but I suspect that it will serve as a gathering point that builds in the features of web 2.0, but cradled in an environment where failure or success is not so open to the world. Some students crave that security, and we should at least give that to them in a gesture of support.

That means that we need the fundamental design of LMS’s to change so that they are adaptable, much like operating systems that have applications that run on top of them. They also need to output well designed templates that faculty can use to display content. No current LMS has a template system for content – we can do it with blogs, why not learning spaces? It’s not difficult, but it would be (and in my case definitely is) a barrier to faculty creating good looking learning spaces.

Part of site reliability, or authority, is that learning spaces look professional. A slapped together website in HTML is not enough to attract customers, why would a slapped together pastiche of PowerPoints, PDFs, webpages and links be attractive to students?