Badges for Lifelong Learning: How will digital badges affect learning?

Thanks to Steve for interviewing Mark Surman about Badges for Lifelong Learning! I've been collecting (or curating) blog posts about digital badges since Badges for Lifelong Learning launched in September this year. For those who are interested in the range of opinions people have expressed these past few months, here's a good place to start:
Even if you don't plan to apply, we value (and read!) every opinion we find online, and want to know what you think. If you do plan to apply, or just want to catch up with all this talk about badges, I've pasted a short version of the call for proposals below. (We are also hosting an informational webinar today, Tuesday, October 25 at 3pm EST.)
Tell us what you think about badges and learning, either here or over on the Badges group on We're listening!
-----Timeline for the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition has been extended. Stage One deadline is now November 14th at 5pm PST----

Full information at:

The Fourth HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition is now accepting Stage One applications from institutions/organizations with compelling learning content for which a badge or set of badges would be useful for recognizing and making visible learning that takes place in a particular area or topic.  Stage One applications are now due November 14th, see information below.  

This year’s Competition, held in collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation, focuses on badges for lifelong learning and explores digital badges as a means to inspire learning, confirm accomplishment, and/or validate the acquisition of knowledge or skills.

If you are planning on submitting an application and have questions, please join us October 25th at 3pm EST for Digital Media and Learning Competition:Application and Process webinar during which we will be taking questions from applicants. You can register at

Awards will be made in two separate, but related competitions: 

Badges Competition (three stages) 
Awards: $10,000 to $200,000

The Badges Competition is designed to encourage the creation of digital badges and badge systems that support, identify, recognize, measure, and account for new skills, competencies, knowledge, and achievements for 21st century learners wherever and whenever learning takes place. It is comprised of three stages, with finalists being chosen in Stages One and Two, and ultimately forming a collaborative team in Stage Three. It is this collaborative Stage Three proposal that is subject to award. Institutional/organizational applicants from outside of the United States are welcome to apply in any stage.

  • Stage One: Identify Badge Learning Content and Programs (
  • Deadline: November 14, 2011
  • Who should apply: Institutions/organizations/legal entities from any sector and of any size--from a small non-profit to a large corporation--with compelling learning content,  activities, or programs for which a badge or set of badges would be useful for recognizing and making visible learning that takes place in a particular area or topic. 
  • Stage Two: Badge Design and Technical Proposals (
  • Deadline:  January 12, 2012
  • Who should apply: Organizations, teams, or individuals skilled in the design of badge systems and implementation of badge technology. These applicants will focus their  designs on the content and programs proposed by either Stage One applicants or Digital Media and Learning Competition collaborators.
  • Stage Three: Match-making and Finals (
  • Stage 3 Meeting: February 28, 2012 
  • No application needed--finalists from Stages One and Two will be selected to advance.  Stage Three pairs Stage Two finalists with Stage One finalists and/or collaborators, to form comprehensive teams who will work together to finalize collaborative badge proposals.


Research Competition 

Badges, Trophies, and Achievements: 

Recognition and Accreditation for Informal and Interest-Driven Learning

5 awards, $5,000-80,000
Research Grant: $60,000; Workshop/Working Group funding, in addition: $20,000
Doctoral Student Grants (2): $20,000
Student Prize:  $5,000
Faculty Prize: $5,000

Deadline: November 28, 2011

Online networks, digital resources, and gaming environments provide rich opportunities for learning that is demand-driven and learner-centered. More and more people are turning to networked knowledge communities, online tutorials, and other digital resources for wide ranging learning needs. While learning is migrating to these more informal and non-institutionalized kinds of contexts, we still have little research that examines how people assess, recognize, and display the learning that happens in these settings. What are the emerging techniques and practices for managing reputation and recognizing learning? What are the broad historical and structural understandings of how accreditation operates in our changing social and cultural environment? What systems exist for recognizing learning outside of formal degree and training programs? How do credentials and other displays of achievement operate in the digital and networked world? What kinds of skills and experiences have not been well captured by existing credentialing and recognition systems? How is the landscape of credentialing changing (or not) with the shift to digital and networked society?

We seek empirical and theoretical research focusing on these questions. Studies should focus on areas such as:

  • Ranking, badging, and achievement systems in games, clubs, competitions, and other forms of interest-driven activities.
  • Accreditation and certificates outside of formal degree programs, including areas such as work skills training, language, writing and critical capabilities, arts, crafts, and other trades.
  • The role of credentials, badges, and other recognitions of achievement in career and reputation development.
  • Empirical, theoretical, and critical studies of how companies, groups, institutions, and individuals produce, utilize, and exploit various credentialing and reputation systems.



Informational Webinars
We invite you to learn more about open badges and this Competition during a series of interactive webinars hosted by the Mozilla Foundation and the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning Competition. 


Connect with the Digital Media and Learning Competition

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