The Open Badges Project

In discussion with a secondary school I came across the interesting Open Badges project?set up by Mozilla. After some reading and joining a Google Group to try to get my head round it, I think it works like this:

An institution (say, a school) becomes an ISSUER of badges and can develop whatever criteria they want, be it for completion of course elements; achieving particular assessment scores or for recognising “good work”. Badges could also be awarded for status such as monitor, house captain and so on. For schools promoting blogging you could issue badges to children that comment regularly, develop great peer review skills and so on. How you manage the issuing of badges is entirely up to you.

The EARNER collects badges issued by the issuer (or issuers) and keeps them in an OPEN BACKPACK – an online badge store where they create a profile, set privacy options etc.

The earner can then display badges collected on a website or a blog etc. To display badges the website or blog needs a DISPLAYER. On a blog the displayer would be a widget in which the user enters their open backpack credentials and the widget would then display the badges chosen.

The problem with this system from a school blogging point of view is that the badges are issued to individuals so that would either require every child to have an individual blog, or you would need to have 30 individual displayer widgets in your sidebar. Actually, an idea might be to have a much bigger “badge gallery” widget which took up a whole page and might look really great. Which brings me on to the second problem: the project is still at quite an early phase of development – it’s still in beta, and the only current WordPress widget is a bit of a hack. It works, but isn’t terribly elegant. The forums and groups talk of further WordPress developments coming along so I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I think the project has a lot of potential.

Anyone interested in developing bronze, silver and gold e-safety badges?

Reading around the subject

More info

Here’s a blog post from Doug Belshaw that is worth reading:? 2 more he’s written at the Digital Media and Learning blog:?

This post describes the process of earning and issuing a badge:?

From this excellent post I understand that a badge (which conforms to the Open Badges standards) consists of three elements:

  1. A graphic to display on your website which links to:
  2. A webpage hosted by the issuer describing the criteria needed to earn the badge and:
  3. A webpage hosted by the issuer that asserts the right of the badge displayer to that badge (i.e.” John Sutton earned the rambling blog post badge issued by Twitter on xyz date”)

From this, I also interpret the post to mean that as of today you need to host your own badge issuing engine, which is going to be a non-starter for the less technically minded like myself. However, it does appear that developments of online issuing engines are in hand and, it seems to me that without these, the Open Badges Initiative is going to be one of great potential that is yet to be realised. Certainly, from the point of view of a school, the amount of time, effort and investment required to get a blog or website to display an accredited badge TODAY, is too great. Once some decent badge issuing services appear, however, that will rapidly change.

If you are more technically minded and want to get involved, there’s the Google Group:?!forum/openbadges




About john sutton

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2 Responses to “The Open Badges Project”

  1. Julia Skinner (@theheadsoffice) April 28, 2012 9:28 am

    Thank you SO much John!
    I’ve been trying to figure them out too! I think it could be an accreditation system that I could tap into to encourage secondary pupils to comment on the 100WC. Now I understand it I can start asking! Thanks again!


  2. John Sutton April 28, 2012 2:30 pm

    Actually, I think the 100wc is a perfect example of how Open Badges could be used. Bronze badge for 5 submissions, silver for 10 etc, but also, you could develop badges for quality peer review as well. I just need to understand how the issuing of badges works and how that might be implemented.


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