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Badges: How teachers saved 200k hours in a school year

August 21, 2023 Erin Browner

Three teachers share their stories and advice for using Clever Badges in their K-3 classrooms.

Have you spent 15 minutes, or even 35 minutes hunching over your students’ keyboards helping them log in to technology? Many teachers dread time using devices because logging in is a nightmare. 

Teachers switch from passwords to Badges

In 2015, the folks at Clever set out to solve teachers’ frustrations with student logins. We created unique, secure physical passcodes in the form of Clever Badges (which look just like QR codes). Now, more than 4 million K-3 students globally use Clever Badges to log in to their digital learning software.

Let’s say logging in with Badges is 3 minutes faster than the traditional login method (though, some teachers say it’s up to 15 minutes faster). With over 4 million students using Badges, that means Badges saved teachers about 200,000 instructional hours in the 2022-23 school year. And 100,000 hours were saved the year prior. No matter how you crunch the numbers — Badges give teachers more time to teach, and students more time to learn. 

With Clever Badges, students just hold the Badge up to the device’s webcam and log in to their learning software with one simple scan.

Watch this student use Clever Badges to log in to her Google Chromebook.

Logging in is more secure with Badges

Not only are Badges a fast and fun way to log in, but they’re also a much safer alternative to methods some classrooms use to help younger learners log in.

Instead of helping students keep track of their passwords by writing them down on post-it notes or sharing them among students, Badges keep login information private and safe.

Older students can also benefit from the simple access experience of Clever Badges. They can be paired with a unique, six-digit code to add an additional layer of security to account access for these students.

How exactly do Badges change the game in K-3 classrooms? We invited three teachers to share their stories and advice around using Clever Badges with their students.

Before Badges: A login nightmare

Julie Blosson, Maryland Elementary School, Ohio: It was a complete and utter nightmare. My students are 6 years old. Their login was and their passwords were impossible. It would include capital letters, but most students don’t even know what a shift button is yet.

Sharon Goff, Lake Ridge Elementary School, Virginia: Prior to using the badges, having second graders log in was one of the biggest challenges. We have computer lab for 45 minutes. When students first needed to type their usernames and passwords, there were times when even after 35 minutes one or two students would still be trying to log in. At times, it made me dread doing activities with technology.

Chris McKinney, TOSA for technology integration and staff development, Sumter County School District*, Alabama: In general, kindergarten students were spending 15 minutes per day typing in an 11-character username and an 11-character password during the first quarter of school. It was frustrating for students and for their teachers. 

*Chris’s responses are based on the feedback shared by primary grade teachers as Bushnell, Lake Panasoffkee, Webster, and Wildwood elementary schools who are regularly using Clever Badges in their classrooms.

Students’ reactions to using Badges

Julie: My students think they are super cool because they get to use a camera to log in. Adults have cell phones and take pictures all the time, but kids also want to use the camera and have a reason to use a grownup tool. 

Chris: All four of the elementary schools in Sumter County were happy with the change to Badges, especially kindergarten and first-grade students. First graders use 1:1 laptops with a built-in camera and kindergarteners use devices with a plug-and-play USB camera.

The benefits of Clever Badges

Julie: Now it’s a lot easier to use the tools I want to use in my classroom. I’ve used XtraMath in the past but didn’t use it last year because logging in was a nightmare. This year I added XtraMath to my Clever Page, and now Clever does everything for me. I tell students to “Go to the Ducky Page” because my avatar is the duck. They go get their Badges and find a quiet place in the room to work. In my Friday emails, I say, “Don’t forget to get on Clever and go to XtraMath.” I love that they can do Clever at home too!

Sharon: It’s easier just having everything in Clever, all in the same spot. I used to have five or six binder rings with all the various logins. Students no longer have to memorize those various logins. They don’t have to memorize anything. 

Chris: Students can spend more time on academics, instead of manually logging into devices. Teachers can spend more time working with students on academic content, instead of helping students log into devices. During the first quarter, students get back about an hour of academic time and teachers get back about an hour of teaching/remediation time. At one school, the kindergarten teachers were so appreciative that they sent the district coordinator of instructional academic technology a bouquet of flowers as a thank you for supporting Clever Badges.

Teachers’ tips for using Badges

With any new and exciting tool to use in classrooms, there is some nuance that comes with Badges. We asked Julia, Sharon, and Chris to share their tips and advice on using Badges in K-3 classrooms. 

Using Badges for the first time:

  • Invite your students to decorate their Badges to add excitement to this new tool.
  • The hardest part is to “allow” camera use before actually scanning the QR code. 
  • With some devices, students need to flip around the camera before scanning Badges. (Read more.)
  • Students and teachers accidentally cover the code with their fingers when attempting to scan Badges. Tip: Do a 5-minute lesson with the class about how to use the index finger and thumb to hold up Badges.
  • Make sure to keep Badges secure. Don’t let students take pictures of their Clever Badges or borrow them from one another.
  • Teach one of your students how to log in with a Clever Badge first, then that student will have a sense of responsibility when they help other students use Badges.
  • Teachers will need a management system, as they would with any login system for primary age students, for keeping tracking of the physical badge used for scanning.
Jia’s Kindergarten classroom keeps its class set of Clever Badges organized.

Want to learn more about using Badges in your K-3 classroom? If your school isn’t using Badges yet, learn more on Clever’s website. For more tips on using Badges in your classroom, check out our Help Center articles.

*This post was initially published in 2019 and has been subsequently updated to incorporate more current data.

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