Open badges to recognise achievement and progression: the gamification of education

AMC_PIt has been a while since I’ve posted on the topic of badges. It does connect with my work around the role of badges within the gamification of education, and the provision of badges. An area of interest is around developing a number of blended courses and purely online learning opportunities. A challenge is, how to motivate engagement when the sessions are not credit bearing? The lack of engagement has further consequences of the course team, as they introduce innovative delivery models but the students don’t engage.

A potential solution around motivation, is the concept of gamification. Where we increase interactivity & rewards through the use of game based elements and techniques within our learning designs. The methods of gamifying our learning designs include (

  • Add points to tasks that need to be completed
  • Define badges/rewards to be given out after a criteria is met
  • Create a Leaderboard to show top performers
  • Define levels to repeat tasks or to perform harder tasks
  • Earning of badges can be tied to unlocking higher levels

It’s use is widespread, Moncada and Moncada (2014) look at gamification with a classroom activity, while De Macros et al., (2104) identify the potential of gamification within online learning models.

Interestingly, from our perspective within the purely online learning model the use of badges, the concept of level and progression leading to the release of more activities is relatively easy to deploy through the gradebook and adaptive release. However, it becomes more of a challenge within our blended learning models. The following scenario describes how the use of badges might be used to define rewards to be given out after a criteria is met, and the earning of badges can be tied to unlocking higher (further) levels.

Dance Programme: We deliver an in curriculum,  interlinked study skills sessions over a number of weeks, which includes a number of milestones to achieve the recognition badge (see The importance of the in-curriculum approach is it was designed with the course team and mapped with the assessment tasks of the group for Assignment 1.

The outcome of the first iteration is, two out of the ten students have achieved the badge. They will be able to proceed to the Study Skills course in Semester 2 (which covers a set of skills which map to their Semester 2 assessment tasks). They have be already been rewarded as they have had an input into the design of the next study skills session. However, eight out of ten, didn’t achieve the badge. This was due to attendance and/or engagement with the online tasks. It will be suggested these eight students need to complete a top-up (repeat tasks) before the start of the next block (semester). This top-up would be a completely online activity which draws on the existing material. Unfortunately, we may need to supplement it with additional resources and video summary.

Overall, the first interaction was very productive from a collaborative design process and embedding within course timetables. However, it does raise a number of questions for me, off which gamification isn’t key.

  1. will they do it? will they see value in completing the tasks and getting the badge?
  2. can we / should we not allow students to access timetabled development sessions if they haven’t achieved the previous milestones?
  3. do we need to re-think the weighting of the activities to achieve the badge, for instance, the relative importance of the face to face, and online?
  4. shifting workloads as we spend more time monitoring and motivating students
  5. whats skills do we need to develop as we need to assess work and distance travelled with our learners, as opposed to a training function

So, much to think about 🙂


  • Moncada, S.M. and Moncada, T.P., 2014. Gamification of Learning in Accounting Education. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 14(3), pp. 9-19.
  • de-Marcos, L., Domínguez, A., Saenz-de-Navarrete, J., and Pagés, C., 2014. An empirical study comparing gamification and social networking on e-learning, Computers & Education, Volume 75, June 2014, Pages 82-91, ISSN 0360-1315,
  • Bodnar, Z., 2014. Using Game Mechanics to Enhance Leadership Education. in eLearn 2014, 2,

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