To determine if digital badges can function as assessments that strengthen religious, ethnic identity, we examined the badge programme of a Jewish temple’s after-school programme. Through interviews with student participants and evidence submitted to earn digital badges, a number of indicators suggest that a religious school’s digital badges can provide opportunity to strengthen religious identity. In particular, student interviews and evidence supplied for the completion of learning objectives for digital badges indicate increases of religious salience (compared to secular practices), religious commitment within a community, and self-esteem based on religious identity. Recommendations are made for ongoing and future religious badge implementations on how to strengthen religious identity while meeting the requirements of authentic, quality assessments.
Digital badges used in Jewish education provide evidence that this type of technology offers a unique opportunity for religious education. Past efforts to compensate for ethnicity in assessments would indicate that ethnic identity is inseparable from performance on assessments. Digital badges represent an opportunity born from the inverse goal, deepening the connection between ethnic identity and an assessment. Jewish education-related digital badges, as an example of implementation within a religious education setting, provide evidence that assessments can strengthen ethnic identity for one religion and thus potentially others.
Digital badges suffer from a key challenge of many emerging technologies: the expectation that the technology will solve a wide range of educational challenges. While it is far too early to suggest that digital badges will eventually meet the respective expectations for the technology, there is growing evidence that digital badges do provide innovative means to accomplishing underserved educational goals. Our aim in this study was not to prescribe only one correct use of digital badges but to draw attention to the meaning of evidence of a successful use of digital badges in religious education.