An approach to alternative credentials, badges, are digital tokens that appear as icons or logos on a web page or other online venue. Awarded by institutions, organizations, groups, or individuals, badges signify accomplishments such as completion of a project, mastery of a skill, or marks of experience. Learners fulfill the issuer-specific criteria to earn the badge by attending classes, passing an exam or review, or completing other activities, and a grantor verifies that the specifications have been met and awards the badge. Numerous groups, organizations, community projects, and web entities currently issue badges, and they are gaining currency in higher education as well.
Although many details remain for badges to be broadly accepted, they represent a different approach to credentials, one that places the focus on individual students and their learning accomplishments.