Informal learning in the real worldWhat has to do theory of badges with augmented reality?

At first sight, one can say that little to nothing, but the fact is that this week I chose two readings of badges theory and another of augmented reality. Thus, I found two connections.

Augmented reality -AR hereinafter- enriches real contexts by providing relevant digital information. The result is a learning environment where interactions of students with it are prompted, as well as interactions between them. Thus, AR is grounded in social constructivism, which “posit that the level of learning is dependent upon the quality of the social interaction within the context” (Dunleavy & Dede, 2014, p. 736).

Situated learning also supports AR as cognitive tool and pedagogical approach. Since AR leverages interaction with real environments -especially if we talk of GPS based AR applications-, learning is prompted in a real context, and transfer of knowledge and skills to real life situations is more likely to happen.

Thus, AR is presented by Dunleavy & Dede as a cognitive tool that brings closer formal education to real life, fostering transfer (2014). Meanwhile, theory of badges tries to establish a system of recognition and assessment for informal learning (Davis & Singh, 2015). Moreover, “digital badges represent a specific kind of networked technology that has the potential both to recognize and connect learning across contexts” (p. 72).

Real life, informal learning… Learning is only one, the same, despite where it happens, how it happens, if planned or not; and badges theory tries that any learning that really happens be recognized. That’s the philosophy behind Mozilla’s project Open Badges: “Get recognition for skills you learn anywhere.” (retrieved from

Therefore, the first similitude between AR and badges theory that we find, is that both point out to learning itself. Let’s continue with the second connection.

AR presents a problem: instructional design is complex. It’s implementation frequently reports that students are overwhelmed with the complexity (Dunleavy & Dede, 2014). Probably, this complexity is not only due to the technical part, but also because it tends to immerse students in an enriched environment, so that interactions be students driven, instead of programmed. In other words, learning with AR tend to be learner driven. The student is provided with “multiple incomplete, yet complementary perspectives” (Dunleavy & Dede, 2014, p. 739). Then, s/he is impelled to explore, connect, and make sense. This student centered perspective, explains why it’s so important the management of complexity (p. 739).

Likewise, badges addresses a kind of learning completely driven by students. This is so even when this theory is applied to a designed learning program, like Teacher learning Journeys Badging System (Gamrat & Zimmerman, 2015). In fact, two key characteristics of this program are personalization and customization. Learners are required to write down their goals, to choose the activities, to design their itinerary, and even to control “their level of engagement with the topic by adjusting the type of micro-credential sought for learning – a TLJ stamp or TLJ badge” (p. 14).

To conclude, AR and Badges theories address learning as a student driven phenomenon that happens in a unbounded variety of ways.


  • Dunleavy, M., & Dede, C. (2014). Augmented reality teaching and learning.
  • Gamrat, C., & Zimmerman, H. (2015). An Online Badging System Supporting Educators’ STEM Learning. In D. Hickey, J. Jovanović, S. Lonn, & J. E. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Open Badges in Education co-located with the 5th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference (LAK 2015) (pp. 12–23). Poughkeepsie: CEUR Workshop Proceedings.
  • Davis, K., & Singh, S. (2015). Digital Badges in Afterschool Learning: Documenting the Perspectives and Experiences of Students and Educators. Computers & Education, 88
  • Mozilla Open Badges. Mozilla wiki.
Learning itself in theory of badges and augmented reality

2 thoughts on “Learning itself in theory of badges and augmented reality

  • June 29, 2015 at 7:51 am


    Nice post this week! I like that you found connections between augmented reality and badging. I also read about badging systems afterschool and regarding STEM professional development, but did not read about augmented reality – it was interesting to hear your perspectives.

    Obviously, both AR and badging both promote learner-driven learning. It seems AR, however, can be more difficult for students because of the complexity and open-ended design….students really have to think deeply to succeed. In the US, augmented reality seems to go hand in hand with our Common Core Standards – encouraging students to go deeper – not farther. In my opinion, both fit pretty well together, both giving students control of their learning. If the student perseveres and completes an AR assignment – then they are able to “show off” their accomplishment through badging.

    This brings me to an issue that I blogged about – and also discussed in reply to Jerry’s blog…. what about all of the different badging systems out there? To succeed, these systems will have to be universally agreed upon and accepted – as Jerry said, badges should be used “the same way educational and governmental certifications are today. They could be verified like a reference letter.” I love this idea! I think badging systems (combined with AR and other tools) could build empowerment in students – to take control and document their learning. Again, I mentioned this to Jerry as well, but maybe this integration would help with that awful questions from students, “when will we ever use this?!”


  • June 30, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    To add to the conversation about badging, a system that is universally agreed upon and accepted would be… an accrediting body. At what point does badging become so formal that it starts to blend in with university courses? Is that where we should be headed? I’m not familiar with Mozilla’s open badges, but I would guess that this would not be the goal (to compete with accrediting organizations). As you said on your post, learning can happen everywhere… how can we recognize that? I guess bullet points in a resume are ultimately badges as well – just not organized and universally accepted. In the end, the badges are just a small incentive in the learning process. The learning itself has to be the most important part. If someone truly learns a useful skill, it’s not that important to have a badge to show for it.

Comments are closed.