Building a Band with Badges: Online Teaching Rock Stars

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

Looking for new ways to motivate faculty to stay involved in activities that help them keep pace with the rapid changes in online pedagogy and instructional technology? Join us to learn how to shake, rattle, and roll your through building online teaching rock stars with a faculty badging program.


I am the Managing Instructional Designer at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY and adjunct instructor for Clarkson's Education Department. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Technical Communications, minor in Psychology, from Clarkson University and a Master of Education in Instructional Design from the University of Massachusetts - Boston. I have been working in online higher education for over 17 years and have experience as an Instructional Designer, Multimedia Instructional Designer, Instructional Systems Engineer, facilitator, and faculty member. Some areas of focus have been multimedia creation, accessibility, Quality Matters, project management, and faculty and staff professional development. I am certified in Accessible Information Technology, Quality Matters (QM) Master Reviewer, QM Face-to-Face Facilitator, and QM Online Facilitator and also am an OLC Online Facilitator.

Additional Authors

With over 17 years of experience developing adult-centered online programs, Jennifer knows what drives student success— learning experiences that connect academic content to learners’ own lives in realistic, relevant, and relatable ways. Jennifer has managed e-learning initiatives and operations for public, private, and for-profit institutions of higher education. She has led the development of solutions focused on scaling instructional design processes using Lean and project management principles while building infrastructures to keep pace with the evolving state of online higher education. Jennifer earned a BA in Corporate Communication from Marietta College, an MAEd in Adult Education and Distance Learning from the University of Phoenix, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from The University of Dayton. She is also a graduate of the OLC's Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Education.

Extended Abstract

Are you looking for new ways to motivate faculty to stay involved in activities that help them keep pace with the rapid changes in online pedagogy and instructional technology? Want to shake, rattle and roll your way through building a chart-topping playlist of online teaching rock stars? Join us for an interactive presentation featuring strategies and lessons learned from two institutional implementations of faculty-focused badging programs. 

After this information session, participants will be able to:

  • Explain how badging can be used to motivate faculty and promote instructional design services while providing customizable faculty development programming aligned with institutional initiatives and strategic needs;

  • Discuss the challenges and benefits of introducing badging initiatives and identify those that might relate to their institution;

  • Create an implementation plan for a faculty development badging initiative for building relevant, meaningful, and engaging faculty programs.

Continuous professional development related to pedagogy and instructional technology is essential for online faculty to effectively teach  their subject expertise in a virtual environment. Participation in workshops or consultations with instructional design experts are frequently considered the primary sources of professional development related to online teaching, but such activities take a backseat to the multitude of competing demands for a faculty member’s time. Often, there is a tendency to overlook the power of learning from first-time faculty experiences such as:

  • creating a screencast,

  • shadowing another online instructor,

  • sharing lessons learned with colleagues,

  • stopping by the instructional design unit or exploring their website,

  • leading an effective asynchronous online discussion, or attending a demonstration of a new tool.

To borrow a line from Jim Croce, “It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Realizing that our very different institutions face these same challenges, we turned to badging for a potential solution. According to Casilli and Knight (2012), badges symbolize key accomplishments such as completion of a project or program, skill mastery, or demonstration of one’s level of experience. A badging program can be a powerful tool for engaging faculty in continuous professional development and building awareness of institutional instructional design support services-- key factors in helping faculty keep pace with rapid changes in online pedagogy and instructional technology. A well-defined badging program provides a framework to clearly communicate competencies required for effective online teaching and learning, motivate faculty to participate, recognize achievements (large and small), and facilitate documentation of faculty knowledge and skills to assist with institutional reporting, faculty promotion and tenure applications, and building faculty learning communities.

Drawing from the chart-topping work of Alexandra Pickett of the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence and EDUCAUSE’s Learning Initiative brief on higher education badging (Diaz, Finkelstein, & Manning, 2015),  we developed faculty badging initiatives designed to address the challenges shared between our faculty while also addressing the strategic needs of our individual institutions. Inherent in our process is the use of badging to track not just participation in formal and informal professional development activities, but also to recognize the important role of experiences in building online teaching expertise. Through the careful mapping of the many skills and competencies required for effective online teaching and achievement of institutional strategic goals, we assigned badges to the completion of certain professional development opportunities and to the achievement of key milestones/experiences as a way to help faculty monitor their progression across the novice-to-expert continuum. We use this badging system as an opportunity to promote instructional design services and professional development through frequent communication of faculty achievements and friendly reminders of the many ways faculty can benefit from participation in the program. Additionally, institutional leaderboards, or the “Hall of Online Teaching Rock Stars,” creates healthy competition between individual faculty and departments, which further increases motivation, participation, and engagement.

During this interactive information session, we will share a replicable process for designing and implementing faculty badging programs across a variety of institution types. Using audience polling and a virtual “wall,” participants will engage with presenters and gain guidance on planning areas such as decision-making, alignment with institutional strategic initiatives, badge types, and technology choices. We will highlight some of the challenges and successes of particular techniques so that participants take away tips and strategies for designing their own faculty badging initiatives.

Join us as we collaborate, learn, and have a little musical fun with badging!



Diaz, V., Finkelstein, J., & Manning, S. (2015). Developing a higher education badging initiative. Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE. Available at