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This project was submitted by an applicant to the Digital Media and Learning Competition.

Design for America Community Badges

We propose a badge system design that is largely community based. We would like to see the forthcoming badge ecosystem to incorporate more badges that are created, assigned, and evaluated by individuals and their close collaborators. The advantage of this system is the creation of badges and badge collections that are more telling of recipients’ skills and achievements than badges that are created and administered in a top-down fashion. We also see crowd-sourced badges as taking responsibility (and pressure) away from issuers to create badges that are relevant to their students, represent diverse student skills and achievements, and are constantly motivating students to achieve diverse learning outcomes. Crowd-sourced badges have the potential to tell a rich story of learner achievement and identity.

Our proposal is a hybrid system of rubric-based badges that represent a set curriculum that is determined by an organization and identity badges that are created and assigned by the community. We believe that such a hybrid is the best fit for our chosen content provider, Design for America (DFA), and works best with the established Mozilla infrastructure.

Content Alignment

We are proposing a design for the badge content submitted in Stage 1 by DFA. We see DFA as an organization with high potential to sustain a community involved in creating and interacting with badges. DFA provides a good case study to illustrate the flexibility, benefits, and possibility of the community-facilitated education model. We have focused our design toward community interactions and dynamics while also incorporating the rubric based badge content proposed by DFA in Stage 1.

Proposed Badges

To support the DFA’s existing design program, we suggest four types of badges:

1) Project Completion Badges that are awarded by the system whenever badge recipients complete specific design goals related to the DFA curriculum. For example, these design goals could be identifying a project, creating the first prototype, or creating a business plan. Project Completion Badges are intended to represent the extent to which students are progressing through their intended projects and to provide an incentive to accomplish certain design goals.

2) Tenet Completion Badges that are awarded whenever a participant achieves all related badges in one of the three DFA tenets. For example, if a recipient finishes all of the project badges under the “Look Locally” tenet and is ready to move on to the “Create Fervently” stage, the recipient receives a “Look Locally” related badge to signify the completion of the tenet. When all three tenet badges are received, the recipient receives a program completion badge, certifying the completion of the DFA design process.

3) Identity Badges that are awarded to recipients whenever badge recipients accomplish tasks or take on group identities outside of the project curriculum. These badges are intended to supplement the project completion badges by providing an added level of information about students’ roles and contributions to their projects. For example, these badges could be “Project Leader” badge or the “Graphic Design Guru” badge.

4) Role Badges that are awarded to signify community status. For example, these badges could be a “Student” badge, a “Faculty Advisor” badge, a “Community Mentor” badge and an “Active Alumni” badge. Role badges can be used to differentiate community privileges, such as weighted votes or open badge nominations, or to signal different levels of reputation online.

We see student badge recipients to be going through three stages: 1) Matriculation, 2) Progress, 3) Graduation. The proposed badge types should exist together to provide a richer picture of a student’s whole design history at DFA, both in terms of what they learn from the program and in terms of the unique skills and characteristics that they contribute to the program. These badges also allow for a “leveling” process where as students move through the DFA design program they receive badges that represent their progress.

Proposed Badge Creation Process

Project Completion

Project Completion Badges go well with DFA’s proposed system of logging project milestones and highlighting contributions. We believe that based on the DFA’s system of rubrics and the iterative design process, a curriculum could be established where badges are assigned for completing certain sub-projects or accomplishing overall project steps. We see these badges as a hierarchical set that each student needs to go through while completing their projects. These badges should be created by the DFA to reflect the DFA design process, to help showcase the common DFA experience, and to give credit for achieving pre-defined learning goals. Clicking on a badge would lead to the criteria page for how that badge is earned along with a link to any relevant evidence.

Tenet Completion Badges

The tenet completion badges represent a collection of Project Completion badges. A tenet badge piece is earned once the recipient has collected all of the project badges for that tenet. The required number of project badges to be earned can be preset for the entire program or customized by the project advisors or mentors per project, potentially incorporating Identity Badges if possible. Although completing each tenet does not necessarily show increasing expertise in design, tenet badges show program completion similar to the completion of a course or degree.

Identity Badges

We suggest that DFA leverage this community to help with identity badge creation. Badges and their associated meta-data (badge graphic, badge criteria, and badge evidence) can be co-jointly created by DFA and its community members. An open system that allows students, faculty members, mentors and alumni to upload their own badges would create a diverse set of badges that can represent project learning outcomes and identities in a more dynamic way than a pre-set badge curriculum. Such a system would encourage participants to think critically about their own learning outcomes and the direction of their participation in projects while taking pressure away from badge system designers to create a set of badges that satisfactorily represents everyone’s contributions to different projects.

Because badge creation and assignment will rely heavily on community contributions, we understand that such a system could be subject to problems of under contribution, creation of badges that are irrelevant, and potential assignment of badges that are a poor match to an individual’s accomplishments. To help mitigate these problems we propose that DFA design a community system that will allow users to create as many badges as they’d like but to assign them only through a community vote. Badge creation and assignment activity, particularly in the beginning, can be strongly encouraged by the DFA or required as part of the project curriculum, similarly to the requirement of peer evaluations for group work in a standard school environment.

Role Badges

Role badges should be automatically awarded based on roles played by different community members.

Proposed Badge Assignment Process

To help properly align the badge recipients’ work to the badge criteria, we propose that users be nominated to receive a particular badge and, as part of the nomination process, examples of work relevant to the badge be submitted as evidence. Nomination and evidence submission could be an automatic process, such as for project completion or tenet badges, or it could be a community-supported process, such as for identity badges. When nominating someone for a community created identity badge, we suggest that the nominator be required to submit evidence of the recipient’s work. We believe that if the system allows participants to only nominate group members or themselves, it will increase the likelihood that only badges that are most meaningful and telling of recipient contributions are assigned.

To decrease the likelihood that badges are a poor match to the individual’s accomplishments or are awarded for poor quality work, we suggest that nominated badges be put to a community vote or require acceptance by the project’s supporting faculty member or mentor.  Voting could be weighted by role so that faculty, mentors and alumni have more voting power than students; or all votes are considered equal. A certain threshold of votes would count as community confidence in the quality of work and its match to recipient.


We see this system as being fully integrated with DFA’s current WordPress website. The overall badge system was conceived as being made up of three parts: Profiles, Project Pages, and Community Interaction Elements.Badge concept designs have been made with Mozilla’s Badge Infrastructure in mind. Each badge is envisioned to be made up of a discrete image, title, description, criteria url and evidence url to be compatible with the Mozilla Badge Backpack. Once badges are earned by the recipient, they are both displayed within the DFA system and sent to the recipient’s Mozilla Badge Backpack.


Our team is made up of Anya Shyrokova, Rishu Arora, and Steven Ma. Anya Shyrokova and Rishu Arora are both Human Computer Interaction graduate students at the University of Michigan and Steven Ma is an independent strategic analyst and design consultant in San Francisco.

Example of the three tenet badges

Example of a profile view

Example of a project view

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