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The information contained in this project appendix was gathered from the original project proposal that was funded in 2012 and interviews with project leaders through the end of 2014.  This appendix and the overall design principles database from the DPD project does not reflect further evolution of the project or developments after the final interview that took place in 2014. As of the final interview, Earthworks had not issued badges or developed a functioning badge system. Based on this information, we have classified this badge system as a suspsended (rather than an implemented or partial) badge system.


The Ohio State University, in collaboration with Digital Watershed, proposed the development of the EarthWorks badging system. Their program is a digital badge system intended to engage K-12 students with the relevance of Native American history and culture through  interdisciplinary investigation of earth mounds built by Native American cultures.  The project intended these investigations to produce opportunities for discovery and inquiry for current and future participants of the program.

The program was intended to develop these learning outcomes through an informal, game-like context in which a broader range of learners could gain familiarity with the significance of Native American culture and history through activities centered around Native American earth mounds. The badge system intended to develop multiple platforms of technology that would utilize the badge system as well as have a review of its learning activities and outcomes by a panel of Native American tribes.

The EarthWorks badge systems intended to develop a collaborative, iterative process that would incorporate activities for students and mentors. Badges were intended to be awarded on the basis of the development of significant understanding of the cultural, historical, and social function of Native American earth mounds. Successful projects would then be used to provide  insight and guidance to future learners in the program (DPD Initial Interview). EarthWorks planned to issue badges on the basis of meeting various interactive criteria that would be assessed by individual mentoring teams.


EarthWorks won a grant through the 2012  Design Media and Learning Competition on Badges for Lifelong Learning.  The project initially focused on the development of a badge system through the next year. However, differences between the project goals and the technical capabilities of the technology partner’s platforms led to the program reevaluating its approach, and they have not yet issued badges.

Evolving Practices and Design Principles

What follows is a list of practices as they relate to the general and more specific design principles in each category of practice. The headings name a (a) General Principle, (b) Specific principle, (c) Specific practice. Below each heading, we indicate what stages this principle appeared in the project: as an (a) intended practice, (b) enacted practice, or (c) formalized continuing practice.

Design Principles for Recognizing Learning

The EarthWorks badge system intended an iterative development of experts from and of Native American cultures.  These experts would be responsible for the development, evaluation, and collaboration of badges for recognizing learning as well as further develop the panel of potential experts who would contribute to future iterations of the system. As stated, none of these principles were sufficiently developed to fully enact.

Have experts issue badges > Credentialed via a community> Badges awarded by panel of Native American experts

Intended, not enacted.

EarthWorks intended a collaborative badging system in which receiving a badge would be determined by a community of Native American experts from or determined by the Native American Advisory Committee (NAAC). Earners would be those who had collaboratively engaged with peers and mentors to produce understanding of Native American culture and history in the context of earth mound constructions that would be approved by a panel from the NAAC (DPD Follow-up Interview).

Align badges to standards > Use standards internal to community> Align to pre-existing values with iteration.

Intended, not enacted

The EarthWorks badge system started by hoping to design badges around community values and knowledge about the Native American community’s history. They also intended to iterate its program through several different groups of learners and develop their badging practices by refining and expanding off the previous forms of their badge system. The initial development of the badges was designed in a game like fashion through the collection of card artifacts that was hoped would later be expanded into the more complete badging system (DPD Follow-up Interview). This process had not yet been enacted due to an evolving focus on how the display and definition of these badges.

Design Principles for Assessing Learning in Digital Badge Systems

The EarthWorks badge system intended the use of human experts to evaluate and assess learning of Native American history and culture.  As of the DPD follow-up interview, the EarthWorks badge system was not in a position to fully develop principles for assessing learning.

Enhance validity with expert judgments > Use human experts> Mentor Committees

Intended, Not enacted

The EarthWorks badge system intended the evaluation of potential badge earners contributions to be the purview of a mentor committee developed collaboratively through the NAAC and EarthWorks. These mentors were intended to be educators and experts indigenous to Native cultures and communities who would be selected through crowd sourced peer networks. These mentor committees would provide feedback to badge earners and would be responsible for the development of rubrics to evaluate student learning. EarthWorks would then develop and refine assessment practices with these mentor committees (DPD Follow Up Interview). Building a model of assessment that would mesh with the technology partner’s platform partly led to the practice not being enacted. Coordination of the mentor themselves, around vetting possible mentors and building assessment practices that would involve them when they were available, was also difficult.

Design Principles for Motivating Learning

EarthWorks primary intention towards motivating learners was to engage learners with their relationship to Native American cultures and the relevance these societies had in their communities.  As with the principles for recognizing and assessing learning, the EarthWorks badge system was not in a position to enact these principles in an effective manner.

Recognize identities > Targets a specific group > Identity within a community

Intended, not enacted

EarthWorks intended that badges in the system would represent concepts of Sovereignty, Connections, Awe, and Earth.

EarthWorks intended that badges in the system would represent concepts of Sovereignty, Connections, Awe, and Earth.

In keeping with their intention of developing opportunities for participation and discovery, EarthWorks intended the badge system to provide insight for badge earners in relation to their role in a Native American community or culture. This practice was intended to enable both Native American and non-Native Americans to understand their relationship to these communities and cultures (DPD Follow Up Interview). Through understanding these roles, badge earners were intended to become interested in further learning opportunities within these communities as well as building interaction opportunities with these communities. As of the DPD follow up interview, however, the badge system was not at a stage to enact this practice in an effective manner.

Engage with the community > Involvement in local community > Engage students with cultural history

Intended, not enacted.

EarthWorks hoped that the content of the learning experiences would motivate participation, because they would be meaningful to the students.

Utilize dffferent types of assessment>Experts> Native American Experts

Intended, not enacted

As stated, Earthworks intended to use a committee composed of experts in and from Native American comunities and culture to award badges. This process of assessing artifacts through engagement with the Native American community wasintended to provide motivation for deep, meaningful engagement in learning and partiipation in these communities.

Design Principles for Studying Learning

As was the case for many systems in the Design of Media & Learning Competition, EarthWorks was not at a stage to effectively study learning. EarthWorks did have the intention to formally study learning through the badge earners artifacts and the iterative nature of their design practices. These iterations would enable the collection of data and metadata to be used for studying learning (DPD Follow-up Interview).


Aubrecht, M. (2014, February 17). DPD Follow-up Interview.
Kratz, L. (2012, October 15). DPD Initial Interview.


Recognizing Principles Assessing Principles Motivating Principles Studying Principles
Specific principles: Specific principles: Specific principles:

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Mozilla Open Badges
Digital Badges are web-enabled credentials of learning or accomplishment. -Erin Knight, director of the Badge Alliance
Badges contain detailed claims about learning, links to actual evidence of learning, and they're shareable over the web. -Dan Hickey, DPD Project Lead Investigator
To me, digital badges represent the bridge between formal learning & informal structures. -Alex Halavais, DML research competition winner
Open Badges can help people tell a verifiable story about their accomplishments. -Nate Otto, DPD Project coordinator
Regardless of where you start, it’s more than likely you’ll end up somewhere other than your intended destination. That’s okay. Systems are living things, and your badge system needs to be flexible. You must embrace a bit of chaos in its design. -Carla Casilli, Director of Design + Practice at the Badge Alliance