Planet Badges

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [49]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Sat Jul 19 2014 15:41:16 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Hey there, badgers!

Here’s a quick run-down of what happened this week:

  • The Badge Alliance led this week’s community call, taking advantage of a gap in the presentation schedule to update the community on some of what’s been happening in the Working Groups, and in the Alliance as a whole. For more details, check out the summary and audio recording

  • On Tuesday, Carla Casilli, Doug Belshaw, Barry Joseph and others participated in the HASTAC webinar session ‘Trust Challenges Across Connected Learning Environments’ - check it out
  • A recent survey highlights workforce skills that digital badges could help employers identify - read more here

  • The Mozilla Webmaker team have been testing new Web Literacy 'maker' badges, and are now moving on to test the ability for Webmaker Mentors and Super Mentors to issue them - read more on the Webmaker blog

We hope everyone has a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week!

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 16, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Jul 17 2014 16:11:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 16, 2014:

This week, the Badge Alliance led the community call, taking advantage of a gap in the presentation schedule to update the community on some of what’s been happening in the Working Groups, and in the Alliance as a whole.

Badge Alliance Marketing Director Megan Cole joined us to give an overview of what the Badge Alliance has been doing since launching in February, as well as a few hints of what’s to come in September, when the first working cycle comes to an end and the second kicks off.

We also heard from other members of the Badge Alliance team as well as members of the Badge Alliance community working in leadership roles within the Working Groups.

A new and shiny website

The Badge Alliance unveiled their new website in June. Still in Phase 1, the website offers some introductory information about badges, the Alliance, and the Working Groups, as well as a sign-up form to participate in the groups.


Constellation Model for Social Change

The Badge Alliance is framed on the Constellation Model for Social Change, seating the work in a set of focused working groups that are working towards specific goals in particular areas of the badging ecosystem - such as higher education, cities, and digital literacy - and the infrastructure - including endorsement, research, and policy.

The work is done in cycles of six months, encouraging focused, engaged work towards both short-term and more wide-reaching goals, as well as providing the flexibility to adapt as the needs and landscape of the ecosystem change.

There are currently 11 open Working Groups for this first working cycle, each of which is stewarded by a Badge Alliance Liaison, a member of the BA team who ensures their groups are meeting goals, makes connections across groups, and points them to useful resources or others working on similar projects.


Working Group Highlights

During the call, we heard from three working groups:

  • Messaging - focused on looking at the various ways to present badges to different audiences

For its first cycle, the Messaging Working Group is focusing on fine-tuning and increasing the amount of Open Badges marketing and educational resources available. Details can be found on the groups wiki page.

For its first cycle, the Cities Working Group is focusing on building the national Cities of Learning brand, increasing the number of cities participating in the initiative and documenting efforts. Details can be found on the groups wiki page.

This group has developed a roadmap of proposals and is working on some prototyping on the Open Badges assertion schema, as well as digging into extensions and endorsement capabilities.

For detailed notes on these groups, see the call notes at

If you haven’t yet signed up for Working Groups and would like to, visit

UK Minister for Skills recognizes "emerging opportunities offered by Open Badges" and will encourage awarding bodies to explore badges

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Jul 15 2014 21:14:48 GMT+0000 (UTC)

We’ve got some exciting news from across the pond:

The UK Minister for Skills recently commissioned the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) to identify obstacles preventing further education providers taking full advantage of technology  including Open Badges - and in particular to investigate the barriers placed in the way by regulatory bodies, funding bodies and awarding organizations. The group’s recommendations were designed to remove these obstacles, and encourage the further education system towards the digital future expected by learners and employers.

The Minister’s response included the following:

"We believe in the power of technology to transform education. From disruptive technologies like Open Badges, through to better use of technology to improve the teaching and learning experience, digital adoption can improve standards. Technology can make teaching more engaging for learners and more fulfilling for teachers. Technology empowers good teachers.
In broad terms, the conferring of an Open Badge on a learner is similar to the award of a qualification certificate, and the same quality standards must be ensured. The emerging opportunities offered by Open Badges in the areas of peer assessment, employer partnership, learning analytics and the engagement of learners means that it should be considered in learning technology at various levels. We will encourage Awarding Organisations, Ofqual and Ofsted to be aware of the potential of this technology.”

The full report and Government response is available here.

Testing, testing… Web Literacy ‘maker’ badges!

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Jul 15 2014 18:00:29 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Testing, testing… Web Literacy ‘maker’ badges!:

To help with Maker Party (launching today!) Mozilla has been working on a series of Web Literacy ‘maker’ badges. These will be issued to those who can make digital artifacts related to one or more competencies on the Web Literacy Map.

Read more about how you can help test these badges at the link above.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [48]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Jul 11 2014 14:15:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

It’s that time of the week again!

There’s been lots of activity this week. Members of the Badge Alliance Team were in Boston to meet with their Tech Council to consider the future of the technology that underpins Open Badges - more to come from that in the next week or two.

Lots of folks have been speaking and writing about badges this week too:


We’ll catch up with you all next week - have a great weekend, everyone!

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 9, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Jul 10 2014 19:04:41 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 9, 2014:



This week we were joined by Bill Beazley, who also presented on Tuesday’s Badge Alliance call for the Workforce Working Group (notes here). Bill leads Piping Design U, a portal “dedicated to providing affordable piping design training and credentialing,” established by Information Assets, Inc.

Piping Design U recently announced its planned list of badges for its piping design training modules, and Bill joined us to share how he developed the badges, some lessons learned, and offer his thoughts on why badges are a particularly good fit for the kind of training offered by Piping Design U and other industry training models.

You can find Bill’s slides here.

Badges for incremental learning

Piping designers are highly paid, skilled workers, and they learn much of their skills and expertise on the job, gaining credibility through experience. Bill had developed a set of training videos, which he discovered were being broken down into smaller segments for “lunch and learn” sessions, where workers could develop skills and learn during lunch breaks and similar environments. These sessions required shorter videos and more incremental units of learning material, which led Bill to develop a subscription model for his courses.

Course model vs Subscription model

Piping Design U uses a subscription business model, which focuses on recognition of progression at a more granular level to encourage long-term engagement. It is suited to on-the-job or just-in-time training settings, as opposed to the ‘body of knowledge’ style learning fostered in a course model, where the goals are about finishing a course via sequential learning experiences.

The course model often awards certificates or degrees upon the completion of a course and the mastery of a set of skills. The subscription model, by comparison, is suited to the issuing of micro-credentials, which allow for recognition of incremental learning as a particular skill or knowledge set is achieved.

Bill developed 118 initial badges for the subtopics within Piping Design U, each with its own test bank, quic, certificate, and badge. Bill employed an interesting method for badge evidence - instead of publishing graded materials, Bill uses an ‘evidence policy’:

Piping Design U does not disclose test grades to the public.  Each badge has a set of objectives for the skills represented by the badge.  Each set of objectives is tested by a quiz of not less than 10 questions (or 10 individual answers) with at least one question or answer representing each objective of the skills definition.

In order to be awarded the badge, the candidate has to score at least 80% on the quiz.  Inside Moodle, a certificate is awarded if their grade meets the 80% standard. Awarding the certificate triggers awarding the badge, thus, the badge shows the certificate as the “evidence” of having the skill. The badge will not show the actual grade on the exam.

Badge definitions are also not listed publicly, but are included within the badges, so applicants can see what they need to achieve, and those viewing a badge can see the descriptions.

Continuing Education credit hours

Bill has approached the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to explore and encourage the adoption of badges as evidence of continuing education, something professional engineers and others must complete a certain number of hours of each year.

When Bill spoke to the engineering board, the badges did not contain enough of the data required, so were not eligible for CE credit. Bill then wrote a specification for meeting licensing requirements for continuing education, which can be added as a supplement to the badges. A draft of this policy can be found here: Piping Design CE Policy Draft.

Those Bill has spoken to on both a state and national level have been receptive to the idea of badges - though, as Bill pointed out, that doesn’t necessarily equate to rapid adoption. But it’s important on an ecosystem level to note that more and more accrediting bodies are either already aware of badging efforts in their industries and disciplines, or are receptive to the idea when it’s presented to them.

Although badging still receives pushback from certain circles - particularly around the issue of terminology - the concept of badging is gaining more widespread acceptance and generating excitement in education and the workforce as more people are seeing a real need for micro-credentials that can capture and showcase a detailed skill set or knowledge base that can connect learners and workers to real job opportunities.

For an in-depth look at what Bill has developed, see the call notes and check out his slides and blog. You can connect with Bill through the Badge Alliance Working Group on Workforce at

July 8 Webinar: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Jul 08 2014 09:02:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Why Does Trust Matter in Connected Learning Environments?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 @ 11am PDT / 2pm EDT / 7pm BST

We are happy to announce that HASTAC and the MacArthur Foundation are hosting a webinar tomorrow about trust in connected learning environments, a topic that gets right to the heart of a healthy badge ecosystem. They even have some famous badge people joining them, including our very own Carla Casilli and Nichole Pinkard, as well as Barry Joseph!


Interested in thinking how technology, policies, and practices could build more trusted learning environments? Join HASTAC / MacArthur Foundation to discuss Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments on Tuesday, July 8 at 11am PDT (2pm EDT), the first of a four-event webinar series about trust, privacy, safety, and learning in an open online world.

What technologies, tools, and policies do learners need to navigate, collaborate, and learn online with confidence? What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments? How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust? What role do badges play in conversations about trust in connected learning environments?

Guest speakers will dive deep into these questions and the principle that “students should have safe and trusted environments for learning,” one of five principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning experiences described in the Aspen Task Force on Learning & the Internet report: 'Learner In The Center Of A Networked World.'

More webinar topics this month:

This webinar series is part of the fifth HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition’s Trust Challenge: Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments, a call to action based on findings and recommendations issued by the Aspen Institute Task Force report.

The fifth open international Trust Challenge will award $1.2 million to institutions and organizations that tackle challenges to trust in real-life learning contexts. The Trust Challenge includes a call for proposals that will fund successful collaborations or “laboratories” that create scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations of trust.

More information about how to apply can be found at

"See" you there!


Connect with the Trust Challenge:

Twitter: and #dmltrust
Listserv: To receive notifications about the Trust Challenge, including reminders when the application opens, send a message to with “subscribe” in the subject line.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [47]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Jul 04 2014 20:15:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

We’ve got a quick round-up of this week’s open badges activity, then we’ll let you get back to enjoying the long weekend:

  • This week on the community project call, we were joined by Dave Crusoe from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, who shared some updates on the badging work being done by the BGCA and other institutions in the Atlanta, GA area. Check out the audio and summary here.
  • Barry Joseph interviewed Badge Alliance Executive Director Erin Knight for his latest blog post on DML Central - read it here.
  • Digital Promise kicked off a summer micro-credentialing pilot program, an effort to “bring a sense of market worth and rigor to digital badges” - read more on EdSurge.
  • UK mobile network provider O2 has teamed up with Digital Me to co-develop the Safe program, which helps develop youth’s online safety and awareness and awards open badges for the completion of digital ‘missions.’
  • Hive Learning Networks has launched a new site which aims to inform and connect those interested starting, participating in, or contributing to Hive communities - check it out at
  • At the the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, Penn State’s Kyle Bowen joined a panel of experts to explore the role of alternative credentials, including badges, in increasing the STEM workforce - read more on US News.

That’s it for us - be safe this weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday.

Here’s 10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the 4th of July


Open Badges Community Project Call, July 2, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Jul 03 2014 12:10:24 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 2, 2014:



This week we were joined by Dave Crusoe, director of technology and academic success for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, to share some updates on the badging work being done by the BGCA, and speak to a recent badges meet-up in the Atlanta, GA area.

A goal of the BGCA is to “propel youth through a continuum” for educational and career success. A new program of ‘Essentials projects’ is being launched at the elementary, middle, and high school levels that enable students to create portfolios of completed projects, as well as badges which serve as a certification of completion and recognition at each level. These badges also give learners access to opportunities within the clubs, so serve both as an incentive to learn and a recognition of progress and mastery. What’s even better is, the Essentials projects are aligned with the Web Literacy Map!

Badge Atlanta

After engaging the wider community in exploring badge-related questions, Dave wanted to look within and around Atlanta, GA, where the BGCA national headquarters are. Dave found three institutions already issuing badges in the region:

  • Georgia State University: The Certified Professional Innovator™ (CPI) Program is a non-degree certificate program designed for individuals who want to master the knowledge, skills, and courage to become "professional innovators." Designed for "mid-career" individuals in business (or other fields), the course is for those who want to roll out innovations at their programs. There are four combinations of distance and contact learning within the program, each of which is badged
  • Emory University - The Open Education Initiative, a pilot program to promote OERs, has explored badges as part of a broader look at micro-credentials. The writing program at Emory has also used badges as part of a media literacy program called Domain of One’s Own that helps student build their own portfolios, simultaneously helping them develop skills and give them a means to showcase their work
  • Epstein School - This K-8 private school has been using badges to recognize participation and engagement at various levels  (a k-8 private school) and are looking into how badges can serve as incentives with a view to building out a school-wide incentive system with badges

Previous community calls and research calls have explored the potential for badges to motivate or incentivize learners, but many of our community members who have built badge systems have framed their badges on recognition for competencies and skills rather than as rewards. Dave told the community call group that he thought many of the BGCA programs’ primary reason for using badges are to motivate and reward participation, which will be interesting to watch as these systems develop.

Nate Otto shared his thoughts from his work on the badge Design Principles Documentation project and recent conversations with other researchers in the community: “I think as people get more experience with badges, they realize the cool additional ways badges can empower people.” For many, badges as rewards is a starting point, that leads to more complex systems of recognition and pathways to further opportunities. As more badge systems using badges as motivators / incentives / extrinsic rewards for achievements start to grow, it will be interesting to see how these badges pair with and/or develop into recognition systems using badges.

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, click here. To explore what the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are doing with badges, check out this community call summary and their Badge Centre.

Hive Learning Networks

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Jul 01 2014 14:38:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Hive Learning Networks:


The Hive Learning Networks have launched a new central website!

What began as two Hive cities (in NYC and Chicago) nearly five years ago has become a growing constellation of communities around the globe that share a vision and set of goals, while also respecting the hyperlocal needs and opportunities to empower educators, innovate, and unlock connected learning opportunities for all youth.

Mozilla and The MacArthur Foundation are actively building and strengthening this network of networks, so they created this new hub to answer the following questions:

  • What is Hive?
  • Where are Hive Learning Networks and Hive Learning Communities, and how can I connect directly with them?
  • What’s the difference between a Hive Network and Hive Community?
  • How can I start a Hive in my community?

The new site aims to inform and connect those interested in the Hive model – whether that’s someone who wants to participate or contribute to an existing Hive, start a new Hive, or be interested in writing about or supporting Hive at a local, national, and global level.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [46]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Jun 27 2014 16:58:21 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Have you heard the news? Last year’s CGI America commitment to help 2 million Americans reach better futures through open badges has been upped to 10 million better futures worldwide! Read more on the Badge Alliance blog.

Speaking of which….the Badge Alliance has a shiny new website for you to check out! Increased functionality and access will come in the fall, but go to to take a look around the new site. Huge kudos to Salter>Mitchell for the branding and site design!

What else happened this week?

  • On the #openbadgesMOOC, we explored the world of alternative credentials with Anne Derryberry, and heard from Charla Long about how Lipscomb University has been using badges to reimagine credentialing and prior learning assessment. Check out the summary here.
  • On this week’s community project call, we were joined by Richard Speight, project lead at DigiSkills Cymru in Wales, UK. They’ve been incorporating badges as part of their co-design model for developing resources for adult learners - check out a summary and audio of the call here.

  • Open Badges was named a winner at the Digital Leaders 100 Awards for Education Product or Services, alongside awesome folks such as Code Club, Young Rewired State and Think Big. A full list of winners is here.
  • Leigh Ross, Program Associate for the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in New York, wrote two blog posts for Philanthropy New York recently - Digital Badges: What They Are and Why Funders Should Pay Attention (Part 1 and Part 2)

  • Chris McAvoy, Director of Technology at the Badge Alliance, wrote a great blog post, Simplifying Open Badges Federation, exploring the features that make up federation, some of which we have, others are close, and others are in development!

We’ll catch up with you all on Monday. Now go dive in to the weekend!

Open Badges Community Project Call, June 25, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Jun 27 2014 15:03:03 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, June 25, 2014:



DigiSkills Cymru (that’s Welsh, for Wales!) was inspired by the idea that both the way public service workers work and the way they learn is changing as a result of digital technologies and that trade union-led learning needs to embrace this change. DigiSkills Cymru has been exploring open badges as part of their “off the shelf” design of learning opportunities, and their Project Manager Richard Speight joined us to tell us more about their work, and how badges fit into the work.

You can access Richard’s prezi here.

Training Digital Champions

The DigiSkills Cymru project (within UNISON Cymru/Wales) aims to add to and enhance existing learning provision funded by the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) using a co-design model that encourages participation and partnership working between projects, employers, providers and learners.

The four main branches of their work are:

  1. Providing Training, Advice and Guidance
  2. Leading the co-design of technology-enhanced workshops and other learning experiences
  3. Recruiting, training and supporting Workplace Digital Champions
  4. Working in partnership to develop Community Digital Learning Hubs linked to public service workplaces

UNISON Wales has a rich history in self-organized, community-based learning, so when Richard discovered Open Badges, he knew they would be a good fit for the DigiSkills Project. The co-design model deployed by DigiSkills Cymru includes badges for their online and face-to-face learning environments.

Their online learning platform in Moodle offers seven badged courses for digital champions, which expire after a certain period of time and must be renewed with an updated demonstration of digital skills and competencies. With badges, learners are able to showcase the skills they’ve developed, organizations can track learners’ progress through shared badges, and people can be connected to opportunities that were previously unreachable.

Richard has been working with other trade union services to improve use of digital technology and skills learning. An example of how DigiSkills Cymru has incorporated badges into its co-design is a Social Media for Nurses course with the Royal College of Nursing, which awarded open badges. This was a one-time-only workshop for self-selecting nurses who requested social media skills training - “union activists” who wanted to learn and be able to advise others on social media etiquette and online protection. They used the Jisc badge design toolkit, inspired by the Digital Me Badge Design Canvas, to design the badges for this workshop.

Badging is still very new in Wales, particularly for adult education and training. Many of the national awarding bodies are either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the concept of badges, questioning the value and endorsement of badges. Richard’s experience thus far has been moving in a positive direction, with more and more organizations and groups starting to adopt and explore badges for their adult education and professional training programs.

Hopefully by this time next year, there will be much more badgetastic activity happening in Wales that can be shared with the community. It’s great to see the movement starting, particularly with a focus on adult education - thank you to Richard for sharing his work with us!

To read more, check out the etherpad notes here:

Find out more about DigiSkills Cymru at

10 Million Better Futures Through Open Badges Commitment Made at...

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Jun 26 2014 15:08:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

10 Million Better Futures Through Open Badges Commitment Made at CGI America 2014

Yesterday the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the Badge Alliance, announced a new Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, to further increase access to opportunities in education and the workforce using open badges – digital credentials for knowledge and skills – to improve the futures of 10 million students and workers worldwide.

Last year, the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla and HASTAC made a commitment at CGI America to improve the lives of 2 million Americans, creating new paths to advancement for a million students and a million workers through digital open badges by the end of 2016. Within a year of that original commitment, partner organizations committed to providing badging opportunities to four million people, inspiring this year’s announcement to up the commitment to 10 million by the MacArthur Foundation and Badge Alliance.

The Badge Alliance and its partners are committed to expanding the use of badges globally over the next 2 years – and beyond – so that 10 million students and workers will be able to use badges to advance their academic progress or further their career goals by being able to demonstrate acquired skills and learning.

The lead partners are urging learning organizations, universities, school districts, and employers across the country to join the open badges commitment. For more information or to make a commitment, watch the video above and visit


We’re really excited to see this commitment get renewed and expanded to help 10 million people access better opportunities for education and career success through open badges. And what a great video!

Read the full story on the Badge Alliance blog —>

#openbadgesMOOC Session 10 - Badges & Alternative Credentialing

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Jun 25 2014 15:58:10 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials
Session 10: Badges & Alternative Credentialing

This week on the #openbadgesMOOC, New Currency for Professional Credentials, we explored the world of alternative credentials with Anne Derryberry, and heard from Lipscomb University’s Dean of Continuing Studies Charla Long about how Lipscomb has been using badges to reimagine credentialing and prior learning assessment for their liberal arts college.

Anne Derryberry kicked off the session with an overview of the credentialing landscape today, looking at a number of alternative methods and how badges might play an increasing role in these methods in the near future.

In June 2011, Georgetown University released a study titled “The Undereducated American” that held some “grim predictions” for the future of employment, pointing to the declining college completion rate and the impact on workforce and wages this has had. The national demand for college-educated youth has outpaced supply - leading to a proposed solution of simply putting more students through higher education - 20 million, to be precise, on top of those already headed for college.

Although this goal aligns with President Obama’s goal of having more college graduates than any other country by 2020, it’s certainly not the only solution. The chart below, from a 2012 survey of Census Bureau data, shows that any form of further education can help increase monthly earnings for those aged 18 and over, whether it’s a professional certification or formal education:

Fewer and fewer students in higher education are entering college immediately following secondary education; 85% of undergraduates are non-traditional or “post-traditional” learners that have had years of professional and personal experience before pursuing post-secondary education.

These kinds of students come with a unique set of needs and goals. Many are employed full-time, and/or parents, and need flexible learning environments; others are seeking supplementary courses to build on professional or industry training they have completed in the workplace.

To help these students reach their goals, the range of credentials being offered has to adjust, and two projects aim to find solutions, one from the US Department of Education, another from the Labor Department.

In 2012, the Dept. of Education launched the “Experimental Sites Initiative" to improve post-secondary student outcomes, exploring alternative assessment and credentialing methods including competency-based education and prior learning assessment. Only a handful of institutions will be invited to become experimental sites, but the results will affect wide-reaching policy.

The Dept. of Labor launched the TAACCCT (Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training) grant program in 2009, to help institutions of further education prepare participants for “high-wage, high-skill occupations.” This program aims to increase the number of certified skilled workers through traditional and alternative credentialing methods that match employer needs and industry standards. Positive results have been seen in the first three rounds of TAACCCT in a variety of formal and alternative learning and training environments.

Examples of Traditional and Alternative Credentials

A credential is broadly defined as a “verification of qualification or competence” issued to an individual “by a third party with relevant authority.” Examples include degrees and diplomas, as well as professional certifications, apprenticeships, licenses - and yes, badges. 

There are a number of alternative approaches, including:

  • Latticed credentials: cross-disciplinary credentials indicating basic entry-level knowledge and the potential for advancement / specialization along a number of pathways
  • Stackable credentials: part of a sequence of accumulated credentials that build up over time, helping the individual progress along a career or educational path
  • Modules for fractional credit: breaking down existing courses into granular modules that can be completed at the learner’s own pace
  • Embedded industry certifications: partnerships between industry certification bodies and educational institutions allow learners to meet industry standards while simultaneously earning college credit
  • Prior learning credit: acknowledging and giving credit for previous experiences and gained skills, such as those who attended college but didn’t obtain a degree, veterans with military training, or those int he domestic workforce
  • Dual enrollment: allows learners to work towards a number of credentials (or levels of credentials) concurrently

The basic attributes of alternative credentials are that they are transparent, valid, reliable, and portable (that sounds familiar - those are fundamental attributes of open badges!)

Anne pointed out that, although these alternative credentialing methods, including badges, can help recognize the knowledge, skills, and abilities of workers and learners in a more complete and flexible way, most credentialing methods currently do not make use of badges as a part of their offerings.

There are a number of institutions working to change that, however. Anne highlighted the work being done at Brigham Young University, where badges are being used for their IPT Educaitonal Technologist program. Badges allow BYU to recognize students who went “above and beyond” in their studies, capturing much more than the transcript of course lists and grades.

Lipscomb University Badges

Another example of badges being used in post-secondary education is Lipscomb University, where a push towards competency-based education led Director of Continuing Education Charla Long to explore badges as a way to capture and showcase learners’ full range of knowledge, skills, and abilities in a way their transcripts couldn’t.

By looking deeply at competency as a basis for credentialing, Lipscomb University began to see every workplace role as being, at its simplest level, a unique set of competencies (and different levels of competencies.) Every position has a unique combination of competencies, and Lipscomb’s role was to identify what learners need to be successful in the roles they are hoping to fulfill.

Lipscomb’s Polaris Competency Model, outlined below, breaks down 41 key competencies across 7 categories:

This breakdown allows for flexibility and customization for particular programs of study and for individual learners’ needs. This allows learners to pursue exactly what they need for a particular job, and employers can clearly see what candidates have achieved, their level of mastery for particular skills, and what soft skills they have been recognized for, including leadership, communication, and management skills.

Charla also talked about the power of badges to empower learners: many of their learners are not degree-seekers, but are working through individual modules according to their needs and capacity. They can then pursue a broader learning experience and credential if they so choose.

Lipscomb currently offers 164 badges, with more being added every day, and provides students with a competency report that can embed into social media and electronic job-seeking platforms, acting as a transcript of a learner’s badge achievements that allow employers to see what candidates know and can do.

Employer Recognition of Badges

The question we often get asked is: what value do employers see in badges? Charla said that employer uptake potential was very high - they are currently talking to an employer considering sending 9,700 people through Lipscomb’s badged modules!

The impact on both higher education and the workforce of this kind of uptake would be huge - it’s very exciting to see such an enthusiastic response to badges and competency-based learning offerings.

Get in touch with Charla Long if you have more questions about Lipcomb’s badging initiative, and feel free to contact the badges team for general inquiries about the MOOC.


We look forward to continuing this course with you! Stay tuned for details of the next session.

Go to to access more resources, information, and challenge assignments to earn badges.

Simplifying Open Badges Federation

Chris McAvoy

Mon Jun 23 2014 18:25:52 GMT+0000 (UTC)

We’ve had “Backpack Federation” on the Open Badges roadmap for a long time. It’s always been the next thing we’re going to work on, but it continually gets pushed down the list by other high priority items. My goal in this post is to remove the “Federation” project from our roadmap entirely and focus on the features we mean when we say federation. Those features are absolutely within our reach, some of them are being worked on now, some of them are complete and in production.

What does “Federation” mean?

“Federation” just means distributed, with no central service that’s solely responsible for the maintenance or governance of the service. The internet is arguably the greatest example of a federated network. There’s minimal central authority; anyone can add a node to the network. Facebook is the opposite, a single entity controlling a large network of users and services. Facebook allowing users to post Tweets to their timeline counts as federation under some definitions of the word, but for our purposes, we’re talking about distributed systems without a central authority.

What do we mean by “Federation?”

We pack a lot of meaning into open badges federation, what we really mean is “distributed badge storage that gives users choice and opportunity to be discovered for their achievements.” Federation means more backpacks, more user choice and more user benefit. I’ve written more about federation in past blog posts, and even more about a world with more backpacks.

Some brief user stories help illustrate what we mean by federation,

  • I earn a badge at my local public library and can put it into the Mozilla Open Badges Backpack, or onto my school’s backpack, or my backpack on my phone.
  • I make a badge for Javascript programming public in my backpack. A week later, an employer finds my badge through a search for JS skills and I’m asked for an interview.
  • A researcher gathers anonymous data through the distributed network of backpacks about the amount of time it takes to learn skills equal to an undergraduate math degree via free online courses.
  • I want to learn how to research my genealogy, I find resources and badges online through a search in my backpack.
  • A teacher can see the badges her students have earned over the summer, and associate them with common core standards she needs to teach this year.
  • A teacher can find content and badges for his classroom that maps to common core standards.
  • A teacher can associate a badge they didn’t create with a common core standard; letting her colleagues know that it’s a great alternative to the canon curriculum.

Let’s stop saying Federation

Let’s break down the scenarios above and give a rough idea of what needs to be built to satisfy the need.

I earn a badge at my local public library and can put it into the Mozilla Open Badges Backpack, or into my school’s backpack, or my backpack on my phone.

Our first pass at this feature was a prototype of a issuer api shim that stored your backpack of choice in the browser. It’s still viable, but we’re also thinking a lot about badge baking. A badge that includes metadata about what the badge represents inside the badge graphic, a “baked badge”, is a super portable badge. The current backpack concept requires that the earner “push” their badges into a backpack. By contrast, for years we’ve had an idea for a backpack that ‘pulls’ badges from an issuer; let’s pursue that. With a “pull backpack”, a lot of the burden of the Issuer API is taken from the Issuer. If they give a baked badge on their site, a “pull backpack” can suck it right up. Pinterest for badges!

I make a badge for Javascript programming public in my backpack. A week later, an employer finds my badge through a search for JS skills and I’m asked for an interview.

We’re working on a prototype of a badge directory which focuses on indexing BadgeClasses (the definition of an earnable badge, instead of the BadgeAssertion, which defines an earned badge). If we extend the directory to allow for indexing of BadgeAssertions, backpacks could report earned badges to directory services. The directory services could share feeds of their indexed objects, acting as supernodes in a network of badge indexers.

A researcher gathers anonymous data through the distributed network of backpacks about the amount of time it takes to learn skills equal to an undergraduate math degree via free online courses.

Also solved by a network of badge directories.

I want to learn how to research my genealogy, I find resources and badges online through a search in my backpack.

The Mozilla Discover prototype demonstrates how we can use a directory service that includes explicit machine readable learning pathways to make it easy for learners to create their own learning opportunities. Just like the idea of indexing BadgeAssertions in addition to BadgeClasses, we should create a specification for a BadgePathway and index it in the network of Badge Directories. That specification work will happen in the Badge Alliance Open Badge Standard Working Group.

A teacher can see the badges her students have earned over the summer, and associate them with common core standards she needs to teach this year.

By creating “pull backpacks” (backpacks that gather badges instead of waiting for issuers to push them to them) we’re opening the door for specialized backpacks that cater to specific users – like school age children that need additional checks on their internet usage from guardians and school officials. Allowing a school to host a backpack makes it easier to tie out of classroom achievements with in classroom learning.

A teacher can find content and badges for his classroom that maps to common core standards.

The Badge Alliance Endorsement Working Group is considering methods to allow third parties to add information to a badge, without needing the badge issuer to change their BadgeClass definition or a badge earner to change the issued BadgeAssertion. Badge directories will play a key role here too, indexing these kinds of endorsements and making them available to badge consumers.

A teacher can associate a badge they didn’t create with a common core standard; letting her colleagues know that it’s a great alternative to the canon curriculum.

While it’s great to create an endorsement for a broad audience, we shouldn’t lose site of instances where metadata could be added a badge and shared inside a private group for a specific purpose. Directory services need to scale big, but there are use cases that need small specialized private directories as well.

So, what’s this all mean?

Kind of like the parable of the boiling frog or less gruesomely, my parable of getting a full meal out of a bunch of small plate appetizers, we’re going to meet the goals of federation without a specific project named “federation”. Federation is dead, baked badges, backpacks that pull badges, badge directories, pathways discovery and endorsement are the new distributed federation.

Lot’s of input for this post came from John and Carla. Thanks! Feel free to comment on this post below, or get involved with a Badge Alliance Working Group to keep the conversation going!

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [45]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Jun 20 2014 18:44:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Did you know? Today is National Summer Learning Day! We’re excited to see the Cities of Learning make summer 2014 one to remember (and make, learn, discover, create, and celebrate!)

Speaking of discover….this week’s community project call featured Chloe Varelidi, Mozilla’s discovery project lead, who took us through a tutorial of the recently released Mozilla Discover prototype. Chloe was joined by Kerri Lemoie of Achievery as well as Mozilla’s Mike Larsson, and together they shared some design and technological insight into the project, as well as some lessons learned along the way. Read the summary and check out the audio here.

Here’s a quick run-down of the other awesome things that happened this week:

  • President Obama hosted the first ever White House Maker Faire, featuring the Cities of Learning as one of the efforts being launched to connect Americans to opportunities that help them develop skills and access a wider range of tools to help them succeed;
  • Credly and Eventbrite announced they will be partnering to develop badge integration allowing event organizers to certify and recognize participation with official digital badges;

  • In the UK, the new Lord Young report (part of a larger Report on Enterprise & Small Firms) recognized the Duke of York and Nominet Trust’s iDEA Award for digital badges as part of a broader recommendation for developing a digital passport to recognize, validate and track youth’s enterprise activity;
  • Sean Hougon wrote a great overview of open badges for Lambda Solutions, with a list of reasons why open badges are worth embracing;

  • Udacity announced intentions to launch “Nanodegrees," and Dr. Bernard Bull was quick to give his thoughts and ask some questions - such as "Will they combine this with the good work being done around open badges?
  • Over at TeachThought, two blog posts made the rounds on Twitter this week: the first, on seven powerful idea shifts in learning today, looked at the ways education is transforming to become more connected, adaptive, and digital.

  • The second looked specifically at competency-based learning (CBL), and featured a brief overview of what CBL actually means, as well as this neat graphic (does anyone else think those hexagons look a little like badges?!)

competency based education

Thanks for a great week, badgers. Enjoy your weekend, check out some summer learning events, and be sure to show us what you discover by tweeting us at @OpenBadges or using the hashtag #openbadges!

Summer Learning Day is June 20, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Jun 20 2014 16:27:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Today is is a national advocacy day for raising awareness about the importance of summer learning for youth.

"Summer Learning Day is supported by elected officials and policymakers, public agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, universities, museums, libraries, and summer camps across the country. Whether you’re a community, summer program, school, or parent, there are many ways to celebrate Summer Learning Day!”

Check out to the Summer Learning Day Map to find an event near you!


The Cities of Learning 2014 are doing their part to keep youth engaged and excited about learning, making and doing not just through the summer, but all year long!

Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) grew out of the City’s 2013 Chicago Summer of Learning in which more than 100 youth-serving organizations joined together to make their programs visible. Youth participants earned digital badges that provide permanent recognition of the achievements made by youth through their activities.

Dallas is becoming a citywide learning laboratory this year, opening pathways to the future for young people of all ages. Dallas City of Learning allows youth to explore earth and science, design, sports, performance, coding, and many more programs and events.

Los Angeles Summer of Learning (LASOL) is opening doors across the city and online so all youth have access to the rich learning opportunities they need to thrive with fun badged programs from across the city. Through badges, young people can link one learning opportunity to the next – a class at a museum, for example, followed by a challenge online. They create their own learning pathways, and open up new opportunities for themselves.

Pittsburgh is turning the city into a living learning campus to enable young people to explore their interests, develop new skills and connect their learning to real-world opportunities. More than 30 programs - including summer camps, workshops, community events and drop-in activities - will offer badges focused on digital learning, maker learning, STEAM learning and youth media making.

Columbus, OH and Washington, D.C. will be launching their citywide badged learning programs in the fall, making sure the momentum and excitement from the summer keeps going all year long!


Open Badges Community Project Call, June 18, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Jun 19 2014 21:39:53 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, June 18, 2014:



As you may have already seen, Mozilla Discover is here! Chloe Varelidi, who led the Discovery Project team, joined us on Wednesday’s call to walk us through the prototype and share some lessons learned.

Mapping “badge-able moments”

Discover works by connecting Open Badges to young people’s education, skills and experiences, character traits and interests.By mapping these “badge-able moments,” young learners can see what they’ve already accomplished and where they need to develop skills to get closer to their ideal job or learning opportunity.

Learners can browse the career paths of real-world professionals on the Discover site, seeing their skills and experiences as badges within a ‘map’ of the professional’s pathway. Learners can pledge to follow a similar path, or design their own career pathway from scratch customizing the experience to suit their needs.

As well as seeing what qualifications and experiences they may need in order to reach their goals, learners can also see ‘cross-career’ badges that represent the “soft skills” or personality traits that make a candidate particularly suited to a job or educational environment. Examples include the Tazmanian Devil, awarded for chaos tolerance to those who thrive in uncertain and ever-changing circumstances, and the Dolphin, awarded for effective communication.

Check out this awesome gif Chloe made that walks you through the tools: Discover Tutorial GIF

Lessons Learned

Towards the end of the project, Chloe said the team noticed a missed opportunity in using the tool to only identify the badge-able moments in one’s life. A pathway is more than just those recognizable moments; it’s a story. The narrative element wasn’t effectively built into the prototype, so being able to add other activities (both in the past, and future aspirations) could fill those gaps in future iterations of the tool.

Another obstacle the team faced was in defining assessment, as well as designing badges for others. Ideally, Chloe said, learners would go through a guided process of creating their pathways themselves, to ensure it fits their path and their goals. In the current prototype, all the badges rest on self-assessment, but future versions would tie in other forms of assessment activities.

Finding some level of consistency or standardization, while allowing the ecosystem to vary and thrive, was also difficult. As many badge system designers have often asked, how do we deal with different interpretations of skills? Interpretation can vary widely, especially if the tools or badges being developed are intended for leverage across networks and communities. Moving forward, we will all have to find ways to help the ecosystem grow with room for varied taxonomies and interpretations.

An interesting discovery (no pun intended) for the team while they were interviewing people in the research and development stages was that, for the most part, interviewees had not reflected on their life before, at least not as a series of accomplishments and events that built upon one another. It appeared to be a valuable exercise for many - an unexpected additional benefit of the tool.

Something else the team found while conducting interviews - everyone thinks their pathway is pretty crazy and unique. No one said “my pathway is pretty typical” or thought they’d had a conventional trajectory through education and their jobs or career. As the badging work continues forward, those working in big data may be able to provide more wide-reaching analytics of this kind of information.

Another unexpected - and interesting - lesson learned was that many issuers the team spoke to, even those who hadn’t heard of badges before,  took to the process of creating pathways very quickly. This is encouraging, as it suggests the work is adding a layer of intentionality and organization to a process that naturally occurs and appeals to learners, workers and employers.

Learn more!

If you haven’t already checked it out, go to and play around (don’t forget the badges in the pathway view must be double-clicked, though this will be fixed!)

Check out the etherpad for more discussion notes and links to various pathways:

Next week:

Join us next Wednesday to hear about how badges are being explored in Wales from Richard Speight of DigiSkills Cymru!

Cities of Learning included in first-ever White House Maker Faire

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Jun 18 2014 15:46:28 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Today, President Obama will host the first ever White House Maker Faire and will meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and lead a grassroots renaissance in American manufacturing. 

As part of his year of action and this week’s focus on efforts that will expand opportunity by spurring manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship, the President will also announce new steps the Administration and its partners are taking to increase the ability of more Americans, young and old, to have access to these tools and techniques and to bring their ideas to life.

Included among the efforts being launched and celebrated at the Maker Faire include the Cities of Learning initiative:

  • MacArthur and partners are expanding Cities of Learning, and supporting Making badges. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, along the Digital Youth Network and Badge Alliance, is announcing the expansion of the Cities of Learning effort to encourage interest-driven learning in Maker spaces and other community places, as well as online. Through Cities of Learning, youth can earn digital open badges to document their Making skills and other out-of-the-classroom learning. The badges are stored online and can be easily shared with schools, colleges, and employers to showcase achievements. The Cities of Learning movement which started in Chicago last year is growing fast, with three new Cities kicking off this month, two others launching this fall, and more lining up for 2015. This year’s programs in Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., will include opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students to earn Maker badges, along with other badges for competencies in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts. With national support from MacArthur, each city is a grassroots effort, often spearheaded by the Mayor’s Office and supported by local public-private partnerships. For example, the Chicago City of Learning effort includes 3D jewelry printing, e-textile fashion design, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s visit to a teen Maker showcase. Digital technology is transforming how today’s youth learn and what skills they need to thrive in the new economy and Cities of Learning are embracing the challenge, by ensuring youth from all backgrounds and circumstances have opportunities to tinker, collaborate, Make and create, becoming the digital pioneers, creative thinkers, and innovators of tomorrow.
joey hudy and president obama

(Photo source:

Read more from the White House Maker Faire Fact Sheet.

Discover a career you’ll love and map the skills you need with #MozillaDiscover

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Jun 18 2014 12:57:04 GMT+0000 (UTC)

We are excited to share more details about Discover, a prototype for a tool that empowers youth pick an amazing career, then map the skills and experiences needed to get there.

Originally posted on the Mozilla Blog.

Finding a career can be challenging. Cool jobs exist, but attaining them can seem impossible — especially for young people with varied interests and skills. Mozilla’s Discover project helps identify great careers by profiling the learning experiences of working professionals, then allowing youth to map their own path to a rewarding job tailored to their skills and interests.

“This is awesome, it’s like a much cooler and helpful version of my career adviser at school. And it looks like a game app.”

- Sarah, 10th grader from Brooklyn user testing at a Hive event

Discover works by connecting Open Badges to young people’s education, experiences, personality traits and interests. These paint a picture of  their skills — and where they need to  grow — to apply for their dream job, volunteer position or learning  opportunity.

Learners begin by browsing career paths of real-world professionals on the Discover site. The skills and experiences necessary for exciting careers are visualized as badges within editable maps. Learners can pledge to follow a similar path, or design their own career pathway from scratch. The pathways feature progress indicators and room for notes, so the experience is entirely customizable.

Working in partnership with industry leaders and professionals, the Discover project has created badge ecosystems in three major fields of employment: technology,  healthcare and service. While pathways are primarily intended to help young people maximize their own strengths to access careers, they are also aimed at meeting the expectations of employers, and can function as a valuable tool for matching candidates with opportunities.

The team behind Discover was greatly inspired by game-like mechanics and based their prototype on the following design principles:

Learning Pathways Are Malleable

Pathways are non-prescriptive and highly customizable experiences that evolve  according to a learner’s personal needs. In her book MindSet, psychologist Carol Dweck introduced the idea of a “growth mindset” in which intelligence and talent are malleable  factors. Dweck writes that cultivating a growth mindset creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” As such pathways were imagined as puzzles, where users can rearrange their badges and add new ones as they progress in non-linear ways. 

They Are Playful

Focusing on playfulness as something that creates a joyful user experience the prototype was greatly inspired by game maps and role playing games, encouraging learners to adapt an explorer mindset and think creatively about their future. This playful approach was greatly Inspired by Patrick Bateson & Paul Martin, who write in their book, Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation, “Play enables the  individual to discover new approaches to dealing with the world.

And They Help You Tell a Story!

While interviewing many professionals in the field and listening to their stories, the team realised that it’s a story that people love to  both tell and hear. That’s why in the prototype you will find little journal looking icons called “story bits,” that highlights the narrative side of learning and career pathways. Savitz-Romer & Bouffards’ book, Ready Willing and Able: A Developmental Approach To College Access and Success, illustrates that trying on an identity and pursuing a narrative approach when engaging youth in career options is especially important to that demographic.

Get Involved

  • Explore the Discover site. Check out a featured pathway and pledge to follow a similar path or create your own from scratch.
  • Discover is an open source project built by the Mozilla community. If you are interested in contributing, please visit our GitHub repo or reach out directly to Chloe Varelidi via email.
  • Want to know more? Join the June 18 community project call to hear about the project from Chloe:

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [44]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Sat Jun 14 2014 07:03:06 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Hello Badgers!

It’s been a great week in the badgeosphere, with global activity gaining momentum and lots of projects and conversations to get excited about:

On Monday, our Global Coordinator Jade Forester joined Digital Me’s Tim Riches in Newport, Wales for Digital 2014, a two-day conference focused on skills (day one) and digital industry (day two). Day One saw Tim give two presentations on open badges and participate in a panel about engagement in education, and judging from the questions asked in person and the explosion of Twitter conversations, it was a success! It’s always great to see our international communities growing and getting excited for badging initiatives in their networks.

Then on Wednesday, the Cities of Learning 2014 initiative launched - go check out the web site at! Don’t forget to track #CoL2014, #CitiesLearn, and #ConnectedLearning on Twitter (as well as #openbadges of course) for ongoing updates throughout the summer.

So what else happened this week?

Don’t forget to check out the Badge Alliance wiki - - for information on badges and working groups, including:

  • an overview and brief history of the Badge Alliance
  • a schedule of Working Group calls for the current and next week
  • and more…..

See you next week, badgers! Enjoy your weekend :)