Planet Badges

#openbadgesMOOC Session 12 - Design Principles Documentation Project / Open edX and Beyond Project

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Oct 22 2014 14:53:09 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials
Session 12: Design Principles Documentation Project / Open edX and Beyond Project
Session Recording: coming soon!

James E. Willis, III, Ph.D. is a research associate in the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University’s School of Education working with Dan Hickey and his research team on their digital badges projects, the Design Principles Documentation Project and the recently launched Open edX and Beyond project.

Open Badges Design Principles Documentation

In the 2012 Badges for Lifelong Learning DML Competition, 30 organizations were funded to develop ecosystems for open digital badges. Indiana University’s Center for Research on Learning and Technology has studied the development, implementation, and practice of badging within the scope of recognizing, assessing, motivating, and studying learning.

The research team analyzed project proposals and then conducted interviews as projects got underway and after the development period was over. This resulted in a forthcoming report and open database detailing intended practices (ideas outlined in general proposals), enacted practices (intentions unfolding in the world), and formal practices (what continues after funding ends) for using digital badges, with particular attention on the factors that supported the formalization of some practices while hindering others.

5 Buckets for Badge System Design

Sheryl Grant, Director of Social Networking at DML/HASTAC, defined five classes or ‘buckets’ for badge system design based on the same 30 badge projects from the 2012 Badges for Lifelong Learning DML Competition - read more on the HASTAC blog.

Here are Sheryl’s five badge system classes:

  • New build. The badge system, learning content, and technological platforms are designed simultaneously.
  • Integrated build. The badge system and learning content are co-created and integrated into a pre-existing technological platform.
  • Layered build. The badge system is layered on top of pre-existing learning content and pre-existing technological platform.
  • Responsive build. The badge system responds to pre-existing learning content, and the technological platform does not yet exist, is optional, or is distributed.
  • Badge-first build. The badges are designed first and the learning content and technological platform are designed around the badges.

Sheryl identified a badge system as being comprised of three components: technology, learning content, and the badges themselves. Each of the five badge system classes starts with and requires a combination of these components, as shown in the table above.

The DPD Project team looked at the 30 badging projects, first identifying which bucket each system fell into, then looking at various levels of progress or status (including implementation, ecosystem and badges) and found the layered and responsive badge systems were more successful than the other three:

The team also looked more deeply at the various badge system proposals within each of the 30 projects, looking at the various practices that were formalized, proposed but not enacted, and unproposed but introduced. James Willis provided an overview of these for a handful of projects, including YALSA, UC Davis, Who Built America, and Badges for Vets:

The team’s general findings included:

  • Digital badges are different to what many are used to - and open digital badges are even more different - so there were lots of new things to learn and adjust to;
  • Claims and evidence are hard to define, and many of the projects struggled to define either or both of these;
  • Information circulates within social networks - validity gets crowd-sourced;
  • COPPA, FERPA and other legal constraints worried many initiatives;
  • It’s not just about the badges: those that tried to build an ecosystem from scratch around badges weren’t as successful as those that integrated badges into existing learning systems;

Over the years we’ve heard a number of presentations on this work from Dan Hickey and Nate Otto on the Open Badges Community Calls, so it was great to see their findings presented by James on Monday. For anyone looking into building a badge system, this research will prove invaluable!

For more details on the other projects the team looked at, check out James’ slide deck.

For more information on the DPD Project, visit


Open edX and Beyond

To support widespread innovation around open digital badges in higher education, the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University is working with IBL Studios, Inc. and Achievery to offer open badges in Open edX. The project is currently building badges into Lorena Barba’s Open edX MOOC, Practical Numerical Methods with Python.

When Professor Barba realized that Open edX requires authentication, she proposed the badges link directly to Github, where students will be working. This may be the first time badges have used direct links to Github as evidence, so we’re excited to see how this works as the course progresses. A series of badges should be available by mid-November, with seamless badge integration by spring 2015.

Building badges into Open edX has presented a number of technical and pedagogical challenges and opportunities for the team:

  • Finding the ‘seams’ in Open edX coding to build a badges API connection;
  • Assuring individual identity verification and management;
  • Keeping open materials within the evidence of outcomes;
  • Assessing student progress in specific, cumulative skills learned;
  • Aligning outcomes for replication in future edX and Open edX MOOCs

Ongoing goals for the team at Indiana University’s Center for Research on Learning and Technology include facilitating further widespread use of digital badges in higher education - to more hybrid and standalone courses, across multiple platforms, and for faculty and staff learning. They also plan to publish their findings from this and ongoing projects, sharing their notes, challenges and results for future opportunities.

Learn more about the Open edX and Beyond project on Dan Hickey’s blog.


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

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


Future sessions:

Monday, Nov. 10, 2-3pm ET:
Open Badges Policy - Anne Derryberry
Monday, Dec. 8, 2-3pm ET:
Open Badges Review - Sunny Lee and Jade Forester

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [62]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 17 2014 19:39:11 GMT+0000 (UTC)

This week we’ve been celebrating our successes from Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Working Groups, taking a look at all the great things we’ve accomplished together over the past six months.

Check out this blog post on the BA blog for an in-depth look at the community’s achievements. You can also see an infographic overview of Cycle 1.

Here’s what else happened this week:

  • In the UK, the Duke of York announced the winners of the youth-focused digital enterprise iDEA award - and Digital Me’s Tim and Lucy were snapped at Buckingham Palace during the event!

Thank you to everyone in our community who has helped us move the badging work forward this year with the Badge Alliance Working Groups - we are so proud to be working within such a dedicated network.

Give yourselves a big high-five for everything you’ve accomplished!

Celebrating our Successes: Cycle 1 Infographic

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 17 2014 16:38:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

As you may have seen yesterday, we shared an in-depth look at the many accomplishments from Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Working Groups over on the BA blog (here).

We wanted to take a moment to share this fun infographic with you as well, which provides a great visual overview of the contributions you made to the global badging ecosystem over the past six months (click for larger version):


If you’re as psyched about this as we are, why not share the excitement by spreading the word through your social and professional networks? We’ll certainly be doing so! To get you started, we’ve put together some sample posts for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other sites:

  • Check out the amazing things we accomplished this year as part of the @badgealliance Working Groups: #openbadges

  • I contributed to the growth of the #openbadges ecosystem with the @badgealliance network:

  • Thanks to all who’ve worked with the @badgealliance to deliver #openbadges ideas, code, documents, and more in Cycle 1:

If you’d like your Tweets to link to the full blog post, replace the link to the infographic with the following:

Quantifying Success

Erin Knight

Wed Oct 15 2014 16:52:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

I think most of us would agree that the badging work has come along way generally. And yet, in many cases, it’s a feeling or some anecdotes. It’s a hard thing to quantify.

I’ve also certainly experienced several palpable shifts in the conversation - from the “what if” conversations in the first year, to the “ok, we get it, what now”, to now a surge of “how”. But again that’s mostly subjective and based on each of our own experiences.

Some things are a bit more obvious. In 2010 and 2011, if you dropped in on a community call, you’d see the same 10-15 usual suspects, all digging in to important early issues like defining the standard. Now that call (still going 4 years later!) has featured hundreds of new voices, representing every imaginable type of organization, audience and perspective. 

Another measure of growth is the number of organizations issuing badges and badges issued. I remember when we celebrated 100 issuers and 1000 badges in June 2011, and now we have close to 3000 issuers and over 250,000 badges in Mozilla Backpacks. But even that doesn’t truly represent the full ecosystem because we can only directly measure issuers using the Mozilla issuer API and the Mozilla Backpacks. All of the platform providers out there have their own numbers. The best we can estimate is that there are over 13,000 issuers and millions of badges. We expect to have over 4M earners by the end of 2014, and 10M by 2016. Those numbers require estimates and contributions from every issuer out there in the ecosystem, yet are undeniably a sign of progress. 

Another number that I feel is important to consider is the average number of badges per earner. You could argue that one badge might be enough to get someone a job or reach their goals, but for me, the vision is that badges can be a comprehensive representation of you. That means you need badges to represent all the skills, interests, affiliations, experiences, etc. that truly represent who you are and what you can do. 

Again, the only data we have to work with are the numbers from the Mozilla Backpacks. There are over 70K unique Backpacks, and a little under half of those (32K) have only 1 badge in them. The other 38K Backpacks on average, have 5.7 badges in them. That means over 50% are well on their way to building a solid collection, a comprehensive representation. That to me is an exciting sign.

Quantifying our success is hard, but we do have some proof of progress.

And I think we can do better. We owe it to ourselves, to the learners, to find ways to more accurately understand what’s working and what’s not. That will need to involve more formal and regular contributions from organizations across the network, but we’re doing pretty well finding ways to collaborate so far, and this feels like an important one to keep up our track record for. I think it will also involve ways to feed usage data back into the system - what badges were used for which jobs, etc. These are not easy problems to solve, but if we can get there, abstract/obtuse concepts like success, or even validation and accreditation, get a whole lot easier to see and understand.

I’d like to be in a place in a year from now when we’ve got quantifiable metrics of success as a network, and some easy way to reliably collect that data across the network, and regularly check in on those numbers. If you have ideas, or want to help, shoot me a note.


October 20: The Open Badges MOOC live sessions continue

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Oct 15 2014 08:56:41 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Join us for the next live session of the Open Badges MOOC, Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials!

Date: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014
Time: 11am PT / 2pm ET / 7pm BST
Topic: Open Digital Badges: Design Principles Documentation and Future Implementations
Presenter: James E. Willis, III, Ph.D.

More about this topic:

In the 2012 Badges for Lifelong Learning DML Competition, 30 organizations were funded to develop ecosystems for open digital badges. Indiana University’s Center for Research on Learning and Technology has studied the development, implementation, and practice of badging within the scope of recognizing, assessing, motivating, and studying learning. The research team analyzed project proposals and then conducted interviews as projects got underway and after the development period was over. This resulted in a forthcoming report and open database detailing intended practices (ideas outlined in general proposals), enacted practices (intentions unfolding in the world), and formal practices (what continues after funding ends) for using digital badges, with particular attention on the factors that supported the formalization of some practices while hindering others. See more at

To support widespread innovation around open digital badges in higher education, the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University is working with IBL Studios, Inc. and Achievery to offer open badges in Open edX. The project is currently building badges into Lorena Barba’s Open edX MOOC, Practical Numerical Methods with Python.

More about the presenter:

James E. Willis, III, Ph.D. is a research associate in the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University’s School of Education. Previously an educational assessment specialist of academic technology at Purdue University, James holds a Ph.D. from King’s College London. He actively publishes on learning analytics and ethics, educational technology, and digital badges.

Join the MOOC:

To join the live sessions, please use the Blackboard Collaborate Web Conference link:

We’re looking forward to your ongoing participation in the Open Badges MOOC! You are welcome to continue to use the MOOC resources ( and submit challenge assignments for review by our experts. You’ll also find an extremely useful set of resources on the Reconnect Learning site.

Find summaries of the previous MOOC sessions on this blog, with the tag #openbadgesMOOC.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [61]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 10 2014 18:08:06 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Hey there, badgers!

Here’s a quick overview of what went on in the badgeosphere this week:

Thank you all for another wonderful week - enjoy your (long) weekend, and we’ll see you all next week, when we’ll be celebrating all the hard work from Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Working Groups!

Open Badges Community Project Call, October 8, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 10 2014 13:43:53 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, October 8, 2014:



Will Open Badges help to map human knowledge? Flavio and Jordi are part of a Spanish research group trying to design a simple badging ecosystem model value, plot and connect badges as coordinates along learning pathways and as part of more general skills and competencies management.

Fragmentation is one of the most common problems in credentialing systems, [including] Open Badge usage,” argues Flavio on “Taking this into account our research group is trying to conceptualize and develop at least a simple model of an ecosystem of Open Badges which could both score weights and plot coordinates for every agent involved in skills & competences management (badges, professionals, organizations, students, etc.). For us it means one step forward to model a dynamical map of human knowledge.”

Back in February, Flavio and Jordi joined an Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call to kick off a discussion around Badge Rank and Badge Score as part of the BadgeCulture project.

In exploring badges’ value, Flavio wrote an article exploring the ways in which badge rank and score will become an increasingly important consideration within badge system design. You can read the (translated) article in the Open Badges Google group:

Flavio and Jordi identified two problems facing their communities int he course of their work and research:

  • Students had difficulty guiding and choosing their learning paths
  • Employers had difficulty assessing résumés

The first of these, Flavio and Jordi saw as related to coordinates + pathways, and the second related to status.

Their proposed solution aims to address both problems:

  • Badge Rank indicates the intrinsic value of badges;
  • Badge Score indicates the adaptive value of badges related to the user and provides one of many ways to link badges throughout an ecosystem using the metadata contained within them


Other ways to connect badges, and learners, through badge criteria include users’ interests, learning pathways, career goals and progress, and badge searches or queries.

Flavio and his colleagues hope that badges could be used as a standard to visualize competencies and categorize knowledge acquisition across different areas, as shown in the graphic below:

Their vision is a badge universe where earners can progress along clear learning pathways, scaffolded by Badge Rank and Score, earning badges and accessing opportunities as a result.

Further Reading and Resources:

If you are interested in learning more about their research, check out their slides here: Mapping Human Knowledge with Open Badges.

To contribute to efforts to advance Open Badges as a standard for digital credentialing, take a look at (and join!) this W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Credentialing Community Group.

Penn State to build digital education credentials for NASA

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 10 2014 12:14:13 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Penn State to build digital education credentials for NASA:

Penn State will be receiving a $500,000 subcontract from Texas State University, the recipient of a larger grant from NASA to provide professional development for teachers using NASA-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content. Based on its success leading the NASA Aerospace Education Services Project, Penn State will contribute by building and developing a digital badge system.

“We’re very excited to help Texas State University provide personalized professional development for educators in this country,” said Kyle Peck, professor of education and co-director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL). “Penn State has been working with digital badges for about a year and a half now, so we knew we could provide value to this project.”

Peck will work alongside Teaching and Learning with Technology  (TLT) to develop the digital badging system, which will enable teachers to pick and choose from many topics and themes to customize their professional development — a relevant form of professional development a la carte.

“By putting modern technology to work for teachers,” said Peck, “the badging system will be an effective and efficient way to reach more teachers in need of quality professional development with more relevant activities at a lower cost.”

Read the article in full by clicking the link above.

Open Badges Laboratory: Collaboration with Vitrine Technologie Education

Re-mediating Assessment

Wed Oct 08 2014 19:44:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

by James Willis and Dan Hickey

We are pleased to announce that we were invited to lead an online Open Badges Laboratory with Charles Tsai, the Director for Learning Networks for Ashoka Canada, and Don Presant, the President of Learning Agents. This collaboration is hosted by Vitrine Technologie Education (VTE) based in Quebec, Canada. The first lab will kick-off on Thursday, October 23rd; the registration form is here. Registration in the lab is free of charge.


The introductory lab on October 23rd (1:30-3:00 p.m. EDT) will cover what open badges are and how they are changing the landscape of education and professional life. The focus will be on the diversity of uses in informal learning in professional and social contexts.

The session on November 20th (1:30-3:00 p.m EST) will consider the elaboration process in open badges. We will be presenting the findings of our Design Principles Documentation research; these findings are valuable to understand the practices involved in the designing, implementing, and sustaining open badges.

The final session on December 11th (1:30-3:00 p.m. EST) will comprise the implementation of badges in digital ecosystems. We will be discussing topics like the value of open badges, the roles of individual and organizational badge issuers, and why students, employers, and social organizations can trust the network of badges issued with specific claims and evidence of learning.

Broadcast in a synchronous Google Hangout format, the series of three labs "will allow participants to receive further information about the events, shape some aspects of the Lab, and build a community of practice surrounding badges in learning contexts." The sessions will focus primarily on the use of open badges in informal learning environments like professional development. While we will be leading the English language sections, French sections will occur at approximately the same intervals. The French sections will focus on open badges in more formal educational contexts. Educational practitioners, researchers, and administrators are encouraged to participate.

We were kindly invited to participate by Christophe Reverd, a Learning Technology Advisor at VTE and lecturer at the Universite de Sherbrooke. We are also working with Alexandre Enkerli, also a Learning Technology Advisor on the English-speaking projects at VTE.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [60]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 03 2014 20:36:28 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Happy Friday!

Welcome to the Badger Beats, the weekly collection of updates and announcements from the badging community.

Here’s what happened this week:

  • On the community call, WestEd’s Senior Researcher Kathy Booth shared findings from recent studies looking at learning pathways and skills building in community colleges - check out the audio and summary here;
  • Our Marketing + Community Manager Jade Forester was featured on Jacob Morgan’s The Future of Work podcast series - download it for your next walk, commute, or trip to the gym!

  • Next week, Jade will be leading a #DLchat Twitter discussion on badges - here’s an introductory blog post to read and share before next Thursday;
  • Community member Bob Price wrote about two big UK projects looking at using badges - read more here;

A quick reminder - you have until October 7th to add your comments to the Badge Endorsement Framework Working Paper, which will serve as an introduction to purposes and processes for badge endorsement. Read more.

If you’re in higher education, or know someone who works in higher ed (faculty, staff, administration, admissions, etc.) please share this survey with them: Digital Badges in Higher Education (to be completed before Oct. 24).

Don’t forget, if you’ve got badging news to share, tweet it out using the hashtag #openbadges.

See you next week, badgers!

Community Project Call, October 1, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Oct 03 2014 16:52:32 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Community Project Call, October 1, 2014:



This week, Kathy Booth, Senior Research Associate at WestEd, joined us for an exciting presentation of research into learning pathways within community college.

Kathy’s research digs into important questions about how we define “success” and “failure” with regards to course completion, and looks at how badges might help capture success in a way that changes attitudes towards community college programs and non-completion statistics.

Evolving landscapes

The national push for completion of degrees, certificates, and transfer to four-year institutions has helped to focus community colleges on measurable goals. However, this emphasis on completion does not fully capture community college outcomes, particularly in job training.

The traditional degree-to-lifelong-career narrative is no longer an accurate reflection of most people’s pathways, as new technology and jobs are creating opportunities that didn’t exist while these people were still in education.

We know that education and the workforce are changing: many traditional college degrees provide inadequate preparation for the jobs graduates are pursuing, and workers are finding they have to go through continual training and skills development throughout their careers, either in a workplace setting or by obtaining additional degrees, certifications, or online credentials. Employers are looking for a way to identify workers with the right skills for the job, and workers are trying to showcase their skills in a way that ‘counts.’ Badging comes in, according to Kathy, when employers need to know more about a candidate’s skills and knowledge than can be gleaned from a degree or transcript.

Despite all the changes to education and the workforce, and a number of individual colleges working to adapt their approach to the new world of work, there is still a deeply ingrained image of “success” when it comes to education - the cap and gown, a neatly rolled diploma with a red ribbon, the fresh-faced graduate walking into interviews and coming out with multiple job offers to choose from, each with opportunities for development and advancement.

Non-completion can equal success

Kathy’s research was inspired by the realization that there needs to be a new way to talk about learning pathways and success in community college programs. Three different studies were conducted, looking at workforce training outcomes within community colleges.

The findings were very interesting:

  • Community colleges offered a strong return-on-investment: no matter the length of the program, those who attended community college for retraining / skills development saw an increase in wages over those who only held an Associate’s Degree;
  • Earnings gains varied by field of study: an increase in wages was ony seen within workforce-related fields of study;
  • Many non-completers saw a significant wage gain: even taking just a few courses saw an increase in earnings

These results regarding non-completers are interesting because they call into question that traditional image of success. Those who do not complete a full course of study are, by most institutions, classed as “failures,” a term that is carried with that person beyond the classroom and affects not only their own sense of accomplishment, but also the way they are perceived by others. These findings also question our idea of the necessity of a long-term degree: a more granular, modularized approach to workforce-related fields of study would allow those who only require certain modules to pursue what they need, without the added cost of having to complete related (but not relevant) modules in a more comprehensive or bundled program of study.

The quality of a community college credential

The researchers found that non-completers were earning more than completers in certain areas, likely because non-completers were older, and had increased experience and skills in the field as well as the academic credentials, which meant they are entering the workforce at a higher wage.

The average age of the students in these studies was 37 or 38 and most had previously obtained a four-year degree; many were using community college credentials to supplement or develop workforce skills, returning to school for low-unit retraining programs.

For many fields, the economic value of the training received came from the content of the courses, not from the credential itself. Years of work experience plus updated training and skills development were more valuable than a long-term degree - with the exception of healthcare, where the credentials and expertise were both very important in determining the value of the degree.

How badges can help

There is a distorted image of community colleges, that because they generate a larger number of non-completions, they are “failing” in educating learners, and therefore a waste of tax dollars.

The implications of this research challenge this image in the following ways:

  • The economic value of community college education is in workforce retraining (especially short-term options);
  • completion is not critical for many workforce training pathways - particularly for older, skills-building students coming back to education from the workforce
  • success metrics need to be nuanced to better reflect the ways that community college education caters to workforce training in ways that four-year degrees cannot
If badges could be used to identify discrete sub-skills needed for workforce development and retraining, Kathy argues, then it would be easier for community colleges to quantify the value of short-term course-taking.

We have often touted badges as a way to capture more granular units of learning and skills-building. By using badges in this way, community colleges can push back against misconceptions about who is succeeding or failing in these programs, the data can better reflect the learning and career outcomes of a community college student, and workers will be empowered to continue developing their knowledge and skills.

To access Kathy’s slides from this presentation, click here.

To learn more about this research project, click here.


Pearson Acclaim offering fast-track implementation options for community colleges

Are you a community college looking for ways to add open badges to your programs? Contact Peter Janzow from Pearson’s Acclaim team to learn about their fast-track offer for community colleges:

Call for comments on the Endorsement Framework paper (by Oct 7th)

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Wed Oct 01 2014 18:26:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

The Badge Alliance Endorsement Working Group has been working on a Badge Endorsement Framework Working Paper, to serve as an introduction to purposes and processes for badge endorsement.

As one of the most frequently discussed questions around open badges, endorsement will be a crucial part of expanding the ecosystem, connecting key stakeholders to badges, and adding to the value of badges. This Working Group has been doing some great work defining ways to build functionality and practice around third party endorsement of badges.

The working paper is now open to public comment - click here to add your thoughts

The group looking for feedback on what’s there and what might be missing—as well as the pacing and sequencing of the document. We encourage you to share your thoughts quickly, though, as the group will publicly release the final version of this document within the next two weeks. 

Please review and comment by Tuesday, Oct 7th at 3pm PDT / 6pm EDT / 11pm BST

We also encourage you to join the Endorsement Working Group call next Wednesday (Oct 8, 10am PDT / 1pm EDT / 6pm BST), to discuss the proposed comments and suggestions.

Many thanks for your close review and thoughtful comments on this document - feel free to share this with your networks over the next week!

Me and Open Badges – Different, but the same

Chris McAvoy

Sun Sep 28 2014 20:06:21 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Hi there, if you read this blog it’s probably for one of three things,

1) my investigation of the life of Isham Randolph, the chief engineer of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal.
2) you know me and you want to see what I’m doing but you haven’t discovered Twitter or Facebook yet.
3) Open Badges.

This is a quick update for everyone in that third group, the Open Badges crew. I have some news.

When I joined the Open Badges project nearly three years ago, I knew this was something that once I joined, I wouldn’t leave. The idea of Open Badges hits me exactly where I live, at the corner of ‘life long learning’ and ‘appreciating people for who they are’. I’ve been fortunate that my love of life long learning and self-teaching led me down a path where I get to do what I love as my career. Not everyone is that fortunate. I see Open Badges as a way to make my very lucky career path the norm instead of the exception. I believe in the project, I believe in the goals and I’m never going to not work toward bringing that kind of opportunity to everyone regardless of the university they attended or the degree hanging on their wall.

This summer has been very exciting for me. I joined the Badge Alliance, chaired the BA standard working group and helped organize the first BA Technology Council. At the same time, I was a mentor for Chicago’s Tech Stars program and served as an advisor to a few startups in different stages of growth. The Badge Alliance work has been tremendously satisfying, the standard working group is about to release the first cycle report, and it’s been great to see our accomplishments all written in one place. We’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. That said, my role at the Alliance has been focused on standards growth, some evangelism and guiding a small prototyping project. As much as I loved my summer, the projects and work don’t fit the path I was on. I’ve managed engineering teams for a while now, building products and big technology architectures. The process of guiding a standard is something I’m very interested in, but it doesn’t feel like a full-time job now. I like getting my hands dirty (in Emacs), I want to write code and direct some serious engineer workflow.

Let’s cut to the chase – after a bunch of discussions with Sunny Lee and Erin Knight, two of my favorite people in the whole world, I’ve decided to join Earshot, a Chicago big data / realtime geotargeted social media company, as their CTO. I’m not leaving the Badge Alliance. I’ll continue to serve as the BA director of technology, but as a volunteer. Earshot is a fantastic company with a great team. They understand the Open Badges project and want me to continue to support the Badge Alliance. The Badge Alliance is a great team, they understand that I want to build as much as I want to guide. I’m so grateful to everyone involved for being supportive of me here, I can think of dozens of ways this wouldn’t have worked out. Just a bit of life lesson – as much as you can, work with people who really care about you, it leads to situations like this, where everyone gets what they really need.

The demands of a company moving as fast as Earshot will mean that I’ll be less available, but no less involved in the growth of the Badge Alliance and the Open Badges project. From a tactical perspective, Sunny Lee will be taking over as chair of the standard working group. I’ll still be an active member. I’ll also continue to represent the BA (along with Sunny) in the W3C credentials community group.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me! I’ll still have my email address…use it!

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [59]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Sep 26 2014 21:41:35 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Hello, badgers!

We hope you’ve had a badgeriffic week - here’s what we’ve been up to:

Our community project call was non-verbal this week - if you have any updates to share with your fellow badgers, add them to the etherpad here:

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Here’s a nifty map from Vala Afshar’s slide deck overview of the Extreme Networks badging survey:

LA’s first ‘Summer of Learning’ a success!

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Sep 26 2014 10:55:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)


The first Los Angeles Summer of Learning (LASOL) is being hailed as a success by officials involved with the program, which engaged around 50,000 students this summer, as well as 52 community organizations that offered 130+ digital badges for learning and skills.

Though smaller than last year’s pilot program in Chicago, LASOL was in many ways “more sophisticated and coherent,” according to Charles Kerchener, a research professor in the School Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University.

"Los Angeles’ program was much more integrated with the school system than was its counterpart in Chicago," Kerchener wrote for a piece on “LAUSD was the primary organizer of the project. In Chicago, the city and the non-profits drove the program.”

Organizers from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell program also took on the difficult task of connecting students’ summer learning achievements with their school records. Their staff and administrators worked with badge-issuing community organizations to ensure the criteria and evidence for the badge activities were good measures of the skills and knowledge acquired. The staff also offered badging training to these organizations, teaching them how to design and create robust badges, as well as how to assess student output and navigate the LASOL web site.


As well as the 130+ badges offered by Los Angeles organizations, the site also gave youth access to a number of online badge activities designed by the team at Digital Youth Network, based out of DePaul University.

Though the badges certainly offer an exciting way for youth to get involved with summer activities and show off their learning at school, most participants signed up because of existing connections with one of the community organizations, according to Craig Clough, who wrote about the LASOL on Jennifer Abssy from Inner City Arts said badges made it possible for “kids [to] be validated for the time they spent with our organization.”

Badges: A Solution to the Massively Disengaged Workforce?

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Sep 25 2014 13:43:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Vala Afshar, of the Huffington Post, put together a slide deck and written overview of a recent survey conducted by Extreme Networks looking at digital badges in education and the workforce. Below the deck is an excerpt from this overview, including statistics pulled from the survey about global attitudes towards the benefits and potential of badges.

To understand more about the adoption of digital badges both in academia and industry, Extreme Networks conducted a worldwide survey and received over 1900 responses. According to the survey:

  • Digital badges offer two primary benefits: motivation (45%) and recognition of knowledge/skills (43%)
  • While only 38% of those surveyed currently use or plan to use badges, 81% of those who are using badges plan to maintain or increase their badge usage.
  • Of those with no current plans to use badges, the issue is either a lack of resources (44%) or lack of understanding of badges (34%).
  • Most of the respondents (59%) believe badges would have a positive impact on their organization, if they had the ability implement them.
  • Among all respondents, 65% believe the popularity and usage of badges will grow in the future.
  • 61% of those surveyed believe that digital badges will someday replace, or be combined with, college diplomas.

Digital badges give employers easy access to specific and current information pertaining to a candidate’s experience and potential. For now, the most popular use of digital badges is to recognize professional development and internal training (70%).

What’s holding badges back?

According to the survey, the biggest drawback to digital badges is the lack of wide-spread awareness. Badges are only beginning to get beyond their association with games and marketing. 46% of respondents believe that digital badges are not yet widely recognized and 38% say badges are not yet taken seriously. A sizable portion of badge users (43%) have invested their own resources to implement their badge programs, rather than use a commercially available platform. The top three ways that the concept of digital badges can be improved are: better industry and market recognition and acceptance of specific badges (67%), standardized requirements of criteria for similar achievements (55%), and lower cost systems to implement badges (37%).

Read the overview in full on Huffington Post.

TODAY: Join the US Dept. of Labor's National Dialogue on Career Pathways [LIVE STREAM]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Sep 23 2014 13:42:33 GMT+0000 (UTC)

National Dialogue Logo

On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services will host a National Dialogue on Career Pathways.

Federal agency leaders from each Department will provide opening remarks on the impact of building effective career pathways can have on our nation’s workforce system. In addition, the Dialogue will highlight strategies and lessons learned from business leaders, state and local practitioners and national policy leaders.

National stakeholders representing business, organized labor, education, workforce and health and human services agencies are encouraged to host events in conjunction with the broadcast. Leading career pathways states and local areas, such as Colorado, Kansas, and Charlotte, NC will be highlighted as well as innovative career pathways practices from organizations like Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, IL and Wider Opportunities for Women.

The National Dialogue will be broadcast via live stream from 9am - 4pm EDT.

Program Agenda

  • 9:00 am — 9:30 am: OPENING SESSION
  • 9:30 am — 9:45 am: KEYNOTE Presentation: “Business-Driven Career Pathways That Work!”
  • 9:45 am — 10:45 am: Practitioners Panel: “Advancing Career Pathways Systems”
  • 10:45am — 11:10am: BREAK
  • 11:10 am — Noon: Innovators Panel: “Career Pathways: Partnerships, Promising Practices, and People”
  • Noon — 1:00 pm: LUNCH
  • 1:00 pm — 1:15 pm: KEYNOTE Presentation: “Career Pathways — Creating Pathways to the Middle Class”
  • 1:15 pm — 2:00 pm: Thought Leaders Panel — “Career Pathways and WIOA”
  • 2:10 pm — 3:20 pm: Afternoon WIOA Listening Session Breakout
  • 3:20 pm — 3:30 pm: BREAK
  • 3:30 pm — 4:00 pm: CLOSING SESSION

Join the conversation on Twitter

Before and during the event, you are encouraged to post questions on Twitter using the hashtag #careerpathways. The federal team will monitor your questions on Twitter and respond to them from the Labor Department Twitter account (@USDOL) during the event.

Go to to watch the live stream.

Curate, Credential and Carry Forward Digital Learning Evidence

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Tue Sep 23 2014 08:59:23 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Our friends in Australia are hosting an exciting event that is open, free, and Internet friendly! See below for information on how to register:

Curate, Credential and Carry Forward Digital Learning Evidence: National Forum, November 13, 2014

The Open Badges project has opened up a new way of recognizing skills and learning through an open, stackable framework and provided an opportunity to recognize more detailed aspects of learning. For example, whereas achievement of learning may be somewhat invisible in collated marks and grades, open badges enable the warranting of capabilities including those that are difficult to measure (such as team work and intercultural competence). Badging skills, experiences and knowledge can supplement or even replace traditional assessment signals such as marks and grades. Open badges can also enable a more social approach to assessment: badges can be issued or endorsed by designated stakeholders - peers, mentors, industry, associations – both within and outside of an institution and build the learner’s ability to judge their own and others’ performance.

This national forum will showcase examples from the thought leaders in the field in prior learning, credentialing, open badges practice and research, and offer an employer’s perspective.

International Thought Leaders Speaking at the Event:

Associate Professor Dan Hickey, Indiana University; Director of the Open Badges Design Principles Documentation Project

Dr Nan Travers, SUNY, Director of the Office of Collegewide Academic Review

National Thought Leaders Speaking at the Event:

Associate Professor David Gibson, Curtin University

Allyn Radford, CEO, DeakinDigital


Dr Michael Evans, Neukom Fellow, Dartmouth College

Joanna Normoyle, Experiential and Digital Media Learning Coordinator; UC Davis

Professional Perspectives

Janet Strivens, Educational Developer, Centre for Lifelong Learning Educational Development Division; Senior Associate Director, The CRA (The University of Liverpool)

Susie Steigler-Peters, Education Industry Executive, Telstra

Register here:

Hand Crafted Open Badges Display

Chris McAvoy

Sun Sep 21 2014 20:35:02 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Earning an Open Badge is easy, there’s plenty of places that offer them, with more issuers signing up every day. Once you’ve earned an open badge, you can push it to your backpack, but what if you want to include the badge on your blog, or your artisanal hand crafted web page?

You could download the baked open badge and host it on your site. You could tell people it’s a baked badge, but using that information isn’t super easy. Last year, Mike Larsson had a great idea to build a JS library that would discover open badges on a page, and make them dynamic so that a visitor to the page would know what they were, not just a simple graphic, but a full-blown recognition for a skill or achievement.

Since his original prototype, the process of baking a badge has changed, plus Atul Varma built a library to allow baking and unbaking in the browser. This summer, Joe Curlee and I took all these pieces, prototypes and ideas and pulled them together into a single JS library you can include in a page to make the open badges on that page more dynamic.

There’s a demo of the library in action on Curlee’s Github. It shows a baked badge on the page, when you click the unbake button, it takes the baked information from the image and makes the badge dynamic and clickable. We added the button to make it clear what was happening on the page, but in a normal scenario, you’d just let the library do it’s thing and transform the badges on the page automatically. You can grab the source for the library on Github, or download the compiled / minified library directly.

There’s lot’s more we can do with the library, I’ll be writing more about it soon.

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [58]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Sep 19 2014 17:26:02 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Welcome to the Badger Beats, your weekly roundup of badging news, updates and chatter.

Here’s what went on this week:

  • On the community project call, Lipscomb University’s Charla Long shared the work Lipscomb has been doing with badges for prior learning and workplace readiness - check out the summary and audio to learn more;
  • Jay Young published an essay about potential “pathways to accreditation for competency-based and online education advocates,” inspired in part by an approach modeled at Concordia University Wisconsin. Read more here;

  • Michael Roth at the Atlantic wrote a critical piece on the weaknesses of nano-degrees that capture only a particular skill set, particularly in liberal arts colleges that seek to create well-rounded learners. Read more and add your thoughts in the comments section here;
  • Over on EdSurge, Steve Palley wrote an opinion piece on the broken college admissions system, with a number of suggestions for fixing it, including alternatives and supplements to higher education such as online learning and badges;

  • A piece on University World News looks at the value of the diploma to employers - something we often talk about in the badging community. Interestingly, Sean Gallagher argues that, “beyond a measure of technical skills and general knowledge alone, degrees are often favourable indicators of softer yet critical attributes such as perseverance, meeting deadlines, acculturation and leadership ability,” contradicting many of the employers and recruiters our community has spoken to. An interesting read!
  • Meris Stansbury, Managing Editor at eCampus News, listed 9 critical issues to consider for those interested in digital badges - check them out here. Do you agree? Tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #openbadges

  • One of our biggest European badge-vocates, Flavio Escribano, wrote a piece on how Open Badges can help map human knowledge. Read the English version here, or the original in Spanish here.

A thought-provoking list to start your weekend! We hope everyone enjoys the crisper weather (if, like some of us, the seasons are well and truly changing) and we’ll see you all next week!

Open Badges Community Project Call, September 17, 2014

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Sep 18 2014 20:38:04 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Open Badges Community Project Call, September 17, 2014:



This week we heard from Charla Long, Dean of the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University, about how Lipscomb has been using badges to reimagine credentialing and prior learning assessment for their liberal arts college.

Lipscomb University began looking at competency-based learning in response to an industry need for a new skills currency that could convey graduates’ competencies to potential employers. Traditional transcripts just “don’t cut it,” according to Charla Long, at least not from a higher education perspective. A badge backpack or digital competency report, on the other hand, better communicates to external consumers exactly what students know and can do.

Lipscomb’s Badge Journey

Employers needed new ways to evaluate graduates that highlight important skills and competencies relevant to the workplace: in a 2011 study, it was found that 84% of employers felt graduates were “underprepared” for the workplace. If a traditional degree or transcript can’t provide enough specific information, both graduates and employers miss out on chances to connect talent with opportunities for success.

Students are also highly impacted by gaming and motivated to “level up;” the team at Lipscomb sought to capitalize on the influence of games within education. Badges can help show learners how to progress towards a degree as well as tracking the journey and providing detailed information about the process.

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 combination and levels of the following competencies: Knowledge, Skills, Ability, Attitude. Lipscomb’s role is 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 career, 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 in their ‘base inventory,’ 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 Focus Groups

In a set of employer focus groups, Charla worked with a number of managers and senior managers, engaging them in a number of collaborative and competitive activities over the course of an 8-hour day, assessing various competencies and behaviors to get a sense of their overall performance throughout the day.

The participating employers were given an evaluation and feedback, where they were shown how the work they had done during the exercises could count for academic credit at an undergraduate level through competency badges. There are many employers and manager in the workforce that may not have finished their degree but have years of relevant experience - for them, Charla said it was a revelation to know that what they’d done and learned could count as credit. These focus groups made an explicit connection between skills, badges, and credit, highlighting badge value in both an educational and workplace setting.

These kinds of connections are vital to increasing badge system growth and adoption - and Lipscomb has already seen results. In her June presentation to participants in the Open Badges MOOC, Charla told the group that Lipscomb was talking to an employer considering sending 9,700 people through Lipscomb’s badged modules!

To learn more about Lipscomb’s core competency model, click here. You can contact Charla Long directly via email with questions and comments.

Jay Young | Improving Competency-Based and Online Education

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Thu Sep 18 2014 19:18:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Jay Young | Improving Competency-Based and Online Education:

"Improving Competency-Based and Online Education" is an essay by Jay Young, written about potential “pathway to accreditation for competency-based and online education advocates,” inspired in part by an approach modeled at Concordia University Wisconsin.

Below is an excerpt where Young talks about the role badges play in this pathway:

Competency is a big need in most jobs and one way competency is being determined at the professional level is through badges.  Badges in education and business are very similar to the badges system used within the Boy Scouts of America.  However, instead of the badge being sewn onto a sash or worn on a shirt, it is digital and an “online representation of a skill [an individual has] earned” (Mozilla Open Badges, 2014).  What makes these badges different is that they “[allow the individual] to verify [their] skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations” (2014).  One way this works is if Google needs to have employees with certain skills, they could create a badge and allow individuals both inside and outside of the organization to progress towards achieving it.  Once the qualifications have been met, Google would grant the badge and the individual would have proof of a skill they have acquired.  With this method, badges could allow crowd-sourcing to verify the competence of an individual and determine at what level their competence really resides.  What this means is that in order for a badge to be earned, certain competency thresholds must be not only be met but be “visible and validate[d] … in both formal and informal settings” (MacArthur Foundation, 2014).   What makes this viable is that “the system is based on an open standard, [so an individual] can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of [their] achievement … and display [them] wherever [the individual] wants them on the web, and share them for employment, education, or lifelong learning” (Mozilla Open Badges, 2014).  Think of the power that a partnership between universities and businesses in creating and overseeing badges would bring to the academic and professional arenas.

To read the essay in full, click here.

Follow Jay Young on Twitter: @SpritedLearner

Badge Alliance Exec. Director Erin Knight speaking at a Hot Lunch Talk in Denver, CO

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Sep 12 2014 17:49:11 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Today, Erin will be presenting to the Donnell-Kay & Piton Foundations for their September 12th Hot Lunch:

"Not Just for the Scouts: The Potential of Digital Badges in Documenting Learning"

Description: Digital Badges are beginning to gain traction in the documentation of learning skills and accomplishments in an expanding learning environment. Come join us as we explore what digital badges are, how they are presently being used across many learning environments, and how they might serve learners in the future.

"Hot Lunch" is a lunchtime discussion series, co-sponsored by DK and the Piton Foundation. These discussions are designed to engage Colorado education, policy and business leaders in conversation about the current national challenges and promising practices in education today.

Go Badges! Go Erin!

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [57]

Mozilla Open Badges Blog

Fri Sep 12 2014 16:07:07 GMT+0000 (UTC)

How’s it going, badgers?

We hope everyone has had a great week - but before we let you go for the weekend, here’s the Badger Beats!

The Open Badges Directory is here! On Wednesday’s community call, the Directory Working Group chair, Kerri Lemoie, made the announcement and walked us through the live prototype - you can start searching for badges at

More information can be found at

Here’s the audio and summary of that call, and here’s a blog post on Achievery’s role in the project.

How exciting! What else happened this week?

  • Dr. Bernard Bull announced that, as of August 2014, Concordia University Wisconsin is offering the first online master’s degree in Ed Tech that is built around competency-based digital badges - read more here;

  • In higher ed, the folks from the UK’s Centre for Recording Achievement made a presentation to the Australian National Project: Curate, credential and carry forward digital learning evidence, led by Kathryn Coleman at Deakin - watch that presentation here;

  • This blog post from a “student skeptic” looks at badges in higher education and has been generating lots of Twitter chatter - What Open Badges Say About Universities: A Student Perspective;

  • Mark Anderson wrote a blog post on digital badges as “an emerging ecosystem of evidence” - read more here;

  • Badge issuers will now be able to integrate Credly with MailChimp, allowing badge issuers to award badges through email lists, track badge campaigns, and schedule badging communications using MailChimp;
  • If you haven’t seen it yet, go check out What Counts as Learning, a new research report from Sheryl Grant responding to early badge system design in the ecosystem.

That’s all from us - if you’ve got something badgeriffic to share, be sure to Tweet it out using the hashtag #openbadges!

Have a great weekend, everyone!