Open Badges

These have been on my radar for a while and I have successfully ignored them until now.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought they were a good idea but I usually ignore good ideas for a little while to see if they are going to stick around Anybody remember schools encouraging students to do all of their learning in Second Life? Pointless. More time was spent by the children navigating than doing anything constructive.

Anyway, I digest.openbadgecrop

Mozilla Open Badges are like digital merits / awards which are given to students when they achieve something you deem worthy of recognition. Students can then display all of their badges on the web for others to see. The interested thing is that there is data hidden invisibly inside of the image. This data stores information about, amongst other things, who issued the badge, what for and to whom it was issued to. This is good. This means you can’t just download somebody else’s badge and claim it. It also means there are technical requirements to creating a badge.

I couldn’t really find any good instructions out there or anybody who was already using them so in order to learn more about Open Badges I set myself the task of issuing one to somebody.

1. Creating the criteria.

This is probably the toughest bit and I will come back to this in more detail in a future post but it isn’t technical so, for testing purposes, I created a one-off pretend reward for simply following my Computing department on either Facebook or Twitter.

2. Creating the badge

Again, I’m just testing so I took an existing glitched image I created to represent Woodham Digital and made it 256 pixels x 256 pixels. Our IT technician at work is a pretty nifty graphic designer so he may have some more graphical work to do in the near future šŸ˜‰


3. Setting up the badge.

I found myself at via Doug Belshaw’s excellent blog post on the subject. This allowed me to log in using Persona and set up the badge. Pretty simple stuff.

4. Issuing the badge

There are a few ways to issue the badge on I thought the easiest would be to use the e-mail feature but this didn’t work the way I thought it would. It doesn’t e-mail learners and tell them they have been awarded a badge (if it is supposed to it is broken). It automatically assigns the badge to that e-mail address so next time they log in, even if they are a new user, the badge is waiting for them. Nice but it really should nudge the learner with an email or something encouraging them to log in and see their new reward as this leaves you to tell them manually somehow that they have a new badge from you. also allows you to produce a unique claim code which you can pass on in the form of a code, URL or QR code.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 12.31.25

Again, very good stuff but it still requires you manually get that information to the learner as far as I can tell.


Learners can push their badges to the Mozzilla Backpack. This is ultimately where their badges should live and not on It receives badges from different issuers and keeps them all safe in one place. Again, Persona is used to authenticate.


To log in to and Mozilla Backpack you need a Persona account. This is a system which allows you to create one account and use it to log in to multiple websites. It works with Google accounts (and Yahoo! and others) so if you have Google Apps for Education set up at your place this should be a pretty straight forward path. We haven’t but it is free and probably worth doing even if it is just to access this and MIT App Inventor.


I suspect I am not going to use if / when I roll this out in my department. Very frequently I would click on an action and just be presented with a blank white page and no indication that the action had been conducted. My wife had a similar experience trying to claim the test badge. Also, I don’t want my real badges mixed up with lots of random badges from other people. I suspect I will upgrade our Moodle installation to the latest version as this allows the issuing of badges. There are other systems too which I will explore in a future post.

BTW the Open Badges image I used is from mozillaeu at flickr.


One thought on “Open Badges

  1. Pingback: Sharing Your Open Badges | Digital Tumbleweed

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