An Old Story About Digital Badges and Why Kids Like Them

In the last two weeks since I published a video about creating a badge tracker in Google Sheets, I've told the following story from May of 2015 three times to people who have asked for my opinion about digital badges and whether or not they're worthwhile. Warning! Small humble brag (from 2015) ahead.This morning I set out on my bicycle to complete a challenge that I had accepted on Strava a couple of weeks ago. (Strava is an app for tracking running and cycling activities. It also has a social networking component through which you can give your friends kudos for their rides and runs). The challenge was to ride 100km or more in a single, continuous trip. I finished it 3 hours and 24 minutes later. It was my first metric century ride.I recorded the ride in the Strava app on my phone then crashed on my couch to recover from the ride. A minute later I heard an alert on my phone and expected it to be a friend giving kudos on the ride. Instead it was Strava congratulating me and telling me that I had unlocked the Gran Fondo challenge award. The award is the right to purchase a cycling jersey commemorating the achievement. At $120 and in a color I would never wear, I passed on the purchase opportunity. Nonetheless, I was stoked to have the opportunity. That's when I realized that the way I feel about Strava is the way that students feel about ClassDojo and other services that have digital badges/ recognition.For a couple of years I've had teachers telling me how much they and their students love ClassDojo. I never got terribly excited about it. I understood that kids liked seeing a record of their points for classroom behaviors, yet I didn't understand the excitement that some kids express in earning digital recognition. I felt much the same way about ClassBadges. My experience today gave me a new understanding of digital badges. It's not about the badge. It's about the feeling that comes with the badge.Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.

An Old Story About Digital Badges and Why Kids Like Them
In the last two weeks since I published a video about creating a badge tracker in Google Sheets, I've told the following story from May of 2015 three times to people who have asked for my opinion about digital badges and whether or not they're worthwhile. 


Warning! Small humble brag (from 2015) ahead.

This morning I set out on my bicycle to complete a challenge that I had accepted on Strava a couple of weeks ago. (Strava is an app for tracking running and cycling activities. It also has a social networking component through which you can give your friends kudos for their rides and runs). The challenge was to ride 100km or more in a single, continuous trip. I finished it 3 hours and 24 minutes later. It was my first metric century ride.

I recorded the ride in the Strava app on my phone then crashed on my couch to recover from the ride. A minute later I heard an alert on my phone and expected it to be a friend giving kudos on the ride. Instead it was Strava congratulating me and telling me that I had unlocked the Gran Fondo challenge award. The award is the right to purchase a cycling jersey commemorating the achievement. At $120 and in a color I would never wear, I passed on the purchase opportunity. Nonetheless, I was stoked to have the opportunity. That's when I realized that the way I feel about Strava is the way that students feel about ClassDojo and other services that have digital badges/ recognition.

For a couple of years I've had teachers telling me how much they and their students love ClassDojo. I never got terribly excited about it. I understood that kids liked seeing a record of their points for classroom behaviors, yet I didn't understand the excitement that some kids express in earning digital recognition. I felt much the same way about ClassBadges. My experience today gave me a new understanding of digital badges. It's not about the badge. It's about the feeling that comes with the badge.