Digital badges are continuing to increase in popularity year-by-year. It’s clear why organisations are moving their awards online: they can massively impact on the performance of learners. Research by IBM has quantified this impact through their research, showing that providing open badges led to a 129% increase in student enrollment, and a 226% increase in enrollments actually completing their course. Naturally, ‘digital badging platforms’ are the best way to offer these awards, instantly granting organisations the ability to create, issue, and manage their credentials. But you already know that, that’s why you’re here.
In this article, we are going to take a look at two of the most well-known badging platforms: Badgr and Credly. Through comparing the digital credentialing tools that each platform offers, alongside the price-tag that comes with it, you’ll get a good understanding of which of these platforms will best help you to achieve your organisational goals, or if an alternative solution should be considered.
With that said, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What are digital badges?
- What is Badgr?
- What is Credly?
- Badgr vs Credly: Designing Badges
- Badgr vs Credly: Issuing Badges
- Badgr vs Credly: Managing Badges
- Badgr vs Credly: Who Wins?
What are digital badges?
First of all, let’s go over what digital badges are, and why they continue to grow in popularity. To state the obvious, digital badges are very similar to physical badges - e.g. that a boy scout might earn and put on their sleeve - except digital (and therefore accessible online). See the image below for examples of digital badges.
The reason it’s important to point this out is because there is another type of digital credential that is also seeing increasing use: the digital certificate. This type of credential is essentially a digital copy of a traditional paper certificate, e.g. the degree transcript a university graduate receives. The use case for this type of credential is slightly different from their badge counterpart, as digital certificates typically present more data about the achievement, and therefore are used to give a deeper representation of the data associated with an achievement, such as the elements it comprises (for example, modules and grades) as shown in the image below.
The appeal to digital badges, on the other hand, largely resides in the value users gain from their more effective sharing and embeddability. Essentially, as digital badges are purely small, symbolic representations of achievements, they can be more easily embedded across platforms in places such as social media profiles and email signatures, as shown below.
What is Badgr?
As you might have guessed from the name, Badgr has a sole focus on badges, providing all of the necessary tools that you need to start issuing these digital credentials to your learners.
Badgr digital badge examples
Take a look at some badges that have been creating through Badgr's platform below.
A lack of reviews for Badgr puts into question their credibility; from a quick google search you’ll find that they are not reviewed on any of the major review sites such as G2, Trustradius, and Cuspera. Doubts can be somewhat alleviated, however, through their partnerships with legitimate brands, such as the Pacific Science Centre in Seattle, and UpSkill San Antonio.
Key feature: Badgr Pathways
A key feature of the Badgr platform is their ‘learning pathways’ functionality A Badgr pathway allows administrators to clearly map out the connection between different badges. Not only does this make a student's progression towards set milestones visible, but it also allows smaller, ‘micro’ achievements to be combined into a larger, ‘macro’ credential.
Is Badgr and Canvas the same?
It’s important to note that in April this year - 2022 - Instructure (the makers of Canvas) acquired Concentric Sky (the makers of Badgr). So, what does this mean exactly? Well, the software, and therefore everything discussed in this review, remains largely unchanged. The main difference is that, if by the end of this guide you have your heart set on the Badgr platform, you will now need to go through Instructure to get access to it, rather than the Badgr website. Unfortunately, this does lead to some difficulties, which we will discuss later on.
Is Badgr free?
Badgr is not free. Well, not really. Since being acquired by Instructure, Badgr has been provided to users of Canvas as a free additional feature, allowing them to issue digital badges at no further cost. This does, however, require a subscription to the Canvas platform. If you don't intend to use the LMS, then this can render the badging platform quite costly.
What is Credly?
If Badgr isn’t for you, Credly is a good alternative, providing all of the tools that you need to start digital badging: from creating badge templates, to analysing issued badge performance with in-depth data analytics.
Credly digital badge examples
Examples of digital badges that have been created using the Credly Acclaim platform have been provided below.
In contrast to Badgr, Credly is listed on the major review platforms, where they have received positive feedback from their customers:
- 4/5 Cuspera
- 8.7/10 TrustRadius
Because of this, Credly can be considered a legitimate and credible digital badging company.
Key feature: Labour Market Insights
There are also some additional perks to the platform that we really like. Their ‘labour market insights’, for example, shows live job postings to their users to help connect them with relevant job opportunities.
Is Credly free?
No, Credly is not free; in order to gain access to the Acclaim platform, you will need to pay. How much it will cost you overall is unknown as Credly does not publish its pricing structure, meaning that you will have to contact their sales team to get a quote.
Now that we’ve summarised what these platforms are, let’s take a look at the specific tools that they provide you with to enable the provision of badges, under the three main areas of digital credentialing:
- Badge design
- Badge issuance
- Badge management
Badgr vs Credly: Designing Badges
Both Badgr and Credly offer two ways of designing digital badges, allowing you to either:
- Upload an image of a badge that you have designed yourself.
- Use an in-app tool to create and customise a badge.
Here, we’ll focus on the latter: their in-built ‘badge designers’. Overall, both tools are very good, and provide everything you need to create professional badges that suit their linked achievement.
Badgr’s Badge Designer
Badgr provides a sleek interface that allows you to easily design your badges to match their associated course.
Credly’s Badge Designer
Credly also provides a similar tool to Badgr to allow you to customise your badges.
Who does it better?
When it comes to badge design, neither platform does it better, per-say. A key difference in Credly’s badge designer is that you are limited to only 6 badge shapes, in contrast to Badgr’s 10+. On the other hand, however, you do get access to a larger list of ‘icons’, amounting over 3000 designs, all licensed under creative commons.
Badgr vs Credly: Issuing Badges
When it comes to issuing credentials, we believe that one platform provides a far more effective process.
Badgr's issuance process
We like Badgr’s bulk-issuance process; it’s simple and effective. This is important as I would hazard a guess that you’re intending to issue to multiple learners at once, rather than each individually. Badgr understands this, providing a simple spreadsheet - called a CSV - that allows users to input all of the associated learner data for their badges, before issuing them directly to their learners.
Credly's issuance process
Credly’s issuance process seemingly misses the mark according to reviews that state their process involves “several steps” and is thereby “a little cumbersome”. This may not pose an issue to larger organisations who have resources to spare, but for smaller companies that necessitate resource efficiency this could be a hindrance.
Who does it better?
As you might have guessed from the discussion above, we believe Badgr does issuing credentials better, with a seemingly more simple process of bulk-issuance.
Badgr vs Credly: Managing Badges
Both Badgr and Credly offer good user profiles for learners to store their achievements, as well as share them directly to other platforms.
Badgr provides a digital ‘Backpack’ to store any credentials issued through their platform. Learners can then share their credentials directly to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest feeds.
Credly’s user profile
Credly offers a similar functionality in their ‘user profiles’. The platform is also integrated with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter to allow for the easy cross-platform sharing of achievements.
Who does it better?
Both functionalities are good, offering a clear and effective way to store credentials. We’re giving Credly the point here, however, as their profile images and viewer-friendly layouts are nicer for third-parties (such as prospect employers) to use and understand. Both platforms do miss out on some key features, however, such as instant verification and clear skills surfacing, as seen in this user profile.
Badgr vs Credly: who wins?
As discussed, both badging platforms offer different functionalities of varying quality.
- Credly is better-reviewed than Badgr.
- Badgr’s unique feature is their ‘learning pathways’; Credly’s is their ‘labour market insights’.
- Both platforms offer good ‘badge designer’ tools. However: Badgr offers more ‘shapes’ to design with; Credly offers a larger selection of ‘icons’.
- Badgr’s issuance process is easier and quicker to use; Credly’s may be slightly cumbersome.
- Both platform’s user profiles do a good job at allowing learners to store and share their certificates.
- Both platforms do not have a transparent pricing structure, nor a simple sign-up process that allows you to get started credentialing right away.
So, which one should you choose? Well, it depends.
When you should go for Badgr
We only recommend the Badgr platform for organisations that are interested in the implementing an LMS as well. This is because you need to purchase the Canvas software - created by Instructure - in order to gain access to the platform. If you are solely interested in a digital badging platform, the Badgr software is likely economically unfeasible.
When you should go for Credly
We recommend Credly for larger organisations who prefer the credibility of a more established and well-reviewed organisation, over the potentially more effective tools of some lesser-known alternatives.
When you should go for another solution
If any aspects of what these solutions offer aren't in line with your organisational goals, then be sure to check out alternative solutions - there’s lots of them! Naturally, we recommend our platform - VerifyEd - designed to fill all the gaps of Badgr and Credly, offering:
- Simple and automated issuance
- Instant, blockchain-secured verification
- Transparent, pay-per-credential pricing
- Advanced user profiles
- A free trial of the platform
We hope that we have been able to give you some insight into the different digital badging platforms that are currently available on the market. Still unsure? Talk to a digital badging expert today - they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.