This is an interesting question and one that our Student Learning Committee asked ourselves last year when we were planning our focus on Student Learning Outcomes. We wondered if students would be motivated to work on mastery of learning outcomes if they could earn badges or in other ways get recognized for demonstration they they had met the outcomes.
As a former Boy Scout and member of the US Military, I like badges... :-) Boy Scouts, of course, are motivated to earn Merit Badges and they show these off on their uniforms. But, it is not only boys who like to show off their skills: military uniforms also include lots of badges. The one that mattered the most when I was in Basic Training was the badges earned for accuracy with an M16 rifle: Marksman, Sharpshooter and Expert. I really wanted that Expert badge and I was proud when I earned it and got to show it off.
Personally I think that there are ways to gamify learning events and learning environments. I have a paper (now out for consideration at ITDL.org) which talks about ideas on how to accomplish just his :) My paper focuses on learning environments (the campus to be more specific), but I think that conferences CAN be gamified, especially when you consider the incorporation of QR codes and game mechanics like scavenger hunts.
I swear I posted to this forum, must not have hit "post" The Colorado Federation of Garden clubs, uses what I now recognize as "conference badges" and this is done with about two inches of different colored ribbons attached to your name badge/credentials (attached to back so they hang down in a row below). You get different colors for your achievements, that is: club member, Colorado lifetime member, national member, regional member, regional officer/board,,national board/officer, state board/officer, landscape design judge, flower show judge, delegate, alternate delegate or club president, You could tell rank by looking at the ribbons.
Hockey conferences (players) you got a Jersey (correct term in hockey is sweater even if no one wears sweaters any more) with your number on it, your home team on the sleeve and the event on the front, the color denoted you playing level, it gave you status there and also at home when you wore it in practice. In that case you were paying big bucks for those "conference badges" Sometimes in tournaments, there was not only a tournament t-shirt or hoodie, etc., with the conference info on the front and all the names of the players on all teams alphabetically on the back, they would put a star by your name. If you won the tournament you team all got pucks with the logo and Championship/year on it.
We conference badge all the time, with something as simple as "speaker" attached with a ribbon with "speaker" on it. We just don't give it much thought.
I think we have some opportunities to experiment in the next year. So if you are thinking about it please let us know here. We need to share notes.
I'm involved with Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments, for the past two weeks during our office hours we've been discussing badges. The reception has been mixed. For me after listening to everyone talk I really am leaning towards a badge that seriously represents accomplishment or knowledge not a award for participating. We're going to be doing an UnSymposium in November and we have taken on a theme that at F2F conference might be a bit whimsical - pirates. But in a virtual environment, pirates work! But when discussing with the group, I found that I became very protective of the badge and really want it to demonstrate mastery. So at this point, for me, if I'm be involved in developing a badge even if whimsical like the ARRRGH badge - it will have to demonstrate a high level of geeky pirate knowledge.
I really am not in favor of "badge for participating" other than perhaps an attendance at a conference, I agree that badges should be levels of achievements reached. Say "speaker at conference" or awards for categories of presentations with a panel deciding the best in each category and that could be a badge.
I kinda like the little passport thingie (how is that for technically focal vocabulary) we had at a past conference, I liked going around and doing something and getting a stamp on my passport which then could be entered into a drawing.
Yes I would like to experiment next year and not just the conference, the Anthropology of Religion class has some nice open slots in the semester where certain things could be accomplished and I am scheduled to teach that class as it stands now. . . things could change.