DEFINITION

Social Badges are a visible and validated indicator of successfully accomplishing a task, attainment of skill, completion of education, expressed interest, or level of quality. Badges can be physical or digital in nature. They communicate and validate what is socially valued by individuals in a particular community or market.

OVERVIEW

The training industry has always been focused on providing credentials as a way to recognize individuals for meeting specific competencies of their trade. Today, so-called “badging” has become the principal tool for recognition, propelled in part by the growing popularity of social networking.

The new norm is to provide “badges” of credit for learners who meet or exceed expectations in the completion of training and other specific tasks.

Social badges are becoming popular in social and collaborative environments, as well as in corporate and learning platforms and portals. Examples of social badges include job titles, educational degrees, certifications, team participation and project accomplishments.

Badging has also become a social phenomenon employed in environments such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Popular social networking sites recognize individuals for a variety of accomplishments including how many times they’re followed, or liked, or recognized as part of a team.

In addition, badges are also among the most visible aspects of gamification, the technology used increasingly in learning scenarios.

Capitalizing on this desire for personal recognition, enterprising training departments are seeking opportunities via badging to motivate and build loyalty among employees and customers around “need to know” topics. Examples include employee honor badges for successful completion of assigned projects and informal tasks.

In addition, LEAN Six Sigma Black Belts, 25-year pins and countless other social badges have joined the ranks of advanced degrees and professional certifications attesting to an individual’s achievements. They are often displayed proudly in social networks and personal communications, as well as alongside names and photos on individual blogs and chat pages on an organization’s learning portal.

Even though badges are not strictly a training department function, since they are often earned for work-related accomplishments rather than from traditional learning, many trainers are endorsing and encouraging their use within recognition activities.

Most importantly, they are about reward and recognition for improving skills, which is the basis of the badging and credentialing movement. But they also reflect the growing appreciation by training departments that individuals are incentivized in ways other than learning.

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