The motivation to earn digital badges: a large-scale study of online courses

Law, Patrina and Storrar, Rosie (2024). The motivation to earn digital badges: a large-scale study of online courses. Distance Education (Early Access).



Digital badges as a recognition for learning, can motivate, provide a means to demonstrate credibility and professional development, and allow learners to showcase their skills and interests. They are an important means to recognise non-accredited learning and can be delivered in agile, educational or professional settings. The Open University UK (OU), has issued over a quarter of a million digital badges via their free online learning platform OpenLearn as recognition for completing and passing free, assessed online courses. This study examines data from over 25,000 survey responses completed by learners who had studied a course that offers an OU OpenLearn digital badge. It builds on previous studies and explores badge earning motivation, related demographic profiles and desire for demonstrating achievements. Data supports the key message that digital badges have a role in supporting employment goals and personal fulfilment, and are an important tool in motivating engagement in lifelong learning.

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