Design Principles Documentation Project

The Design Principles Documentation (DPD) project captured the design principles for using digital badges that emerged across twenty-nine projects funded to develop badges in the 2012 Digital Media and Learning competition funded by the MacArthur and Gates Foundations. This project uncovered the principles for using badges to recognize learning, assess learning, motivate learning, and study learning.

The project found that only eleven projects created their proposed ecosystem, eleven projects created badges but not the ecosystem, and seven projects were unable to create their badge system. Additionally, the DPD project has uncovered that badges work better when the content and technology already exist and in environments with less formal recognition and assessment, when they offer unique claims and evidence, and where the learning is social and distributed.

Comprehensive findings for the various design principles, detailed appendices for each of the 29 projects, and case studies examining specific aspects of subsets of project are available at the DPD project website at A comprehensive report in the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning report series will be available in late spring 2015.

Project Members


Daniel T. Hickey

James E. Willis, III

Rebecca Itow

Katerina Schenke

Cathy Tran

Christine Chow

Joshua Quick

Cindy Ahonen