Modern digital badges are descendants of both the merit badge systems from the Scouting tradition (e.g. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts), and the Achievement systems of online video gaming. Both connect accomplishments with a compact, portable form of recognition designed to motivate earners to pursue further achievement.
Our initial research has focused on this aspect of Badges, and found that their ability to motivate learners is real, yet nuanced. Certain types of learners respond differently to certain types of Badges, both positively and negatively. The implication for Badge Design is that the details matter: a clumsily-designed system could end up hurting some learners’ motivation rather than helping!
CS2N Badges have been in redesigned to include only the types of recognition that were found to have net positive gains in student motivation.