This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Have you got the look

When considering a complete badge system, it's important to consider context and the realm of the issuer, and therefore how the badges should look?

What are all the aspects of a badges graphical look do you need to consider?

Search the web for existing badges... look at their design, shape, colour scheme, embedded text (if it is there). Can you guess the audience of earners from the look of the badge?

Review the badges and badge systems from the following sources; be prepared to write a blog post about how these badge systems are organized and the graphical design of the badges within the system.

Read over this outstanding post from Jess Klien - "design feedback for badge systems" and seek out similar posts that describe badge design from a graphical look. If you can't find an existing post, write one yourself. When designing a badge system, what graphical elements do you need to consider? How important is it to consider the profile of the learner who will be earning a badge?

To complete this task contribute the following two posts to the task discussion;

  1. Write a blog post or task discussion item describing what you found when exploring the different badge systems listed above. Compare and contrast the different badge systems. If you write a blog post be sure to provide the link to the post in the task discussion thread.
  2. Jump ahead to task seven and evaluate on of the other learners badge system design. Evaluate the  badge system design against their performance level they have targeted for the badge system. Be candid, be ruthless... reach out the the badge system author via the P2Pu messaging service.
  3. Find a link (URL) to an online resource that describes the making of a digital badge. This link could also point toward a resource describing how to use a graphics editing program to create a badge or an element of a badge (like creating curved text in GIMP).
  4. Extra Task (optional): on a piece of paper with coloring pencils, crayons or pens draw a whole bunch of different badges. have fun with this, write brief descriptions next to each badge. Scan in the drawing and post it to this tasks discussion.

Task Discussion

  • Jason said:

    I'm critiquing Peter's ONPhD Candidacy Badge system , It seems to be the only complete system I can find in the Task 7 discussion.

    What Peter appears to have done here is "badgifying" the ONPhD Candidacy Challenge at P2PU, which I think he also created.  By and large, it think the system meets the working level on the badge design rubric.  I would make two comments relative to that criteria.

    Design -  With seven sub badges, I was surprised that the final badge wasn't a heptagon.  I huess I played too much Trivial Pursuit many years ago, but I considered the possibility of "assembling" the final badge from constituent components.

    Criteria -  Since only a couple of earners have started this badge process, the examples/references are not what you would hope to see.  I think there's also a gap in the clarity of the criteria, because those involved are still figuring out what sort of artifacts meet the criteria. I imagine that in a traditional PhD framework, to which this system will be compared (isn't that the point), each of the sub-badge equivalents would be a multi-page text document.  I say that with the caveat that I have never been a student in a doctoral program. Nevertheless, a valuable process would be to compare the expectations of more traditional PhD Candidacy paths in each of these areas.

    That leads to the most significant challenge .  Taking on the PhD is sort of the "boss level" challenge for badges and open and networked learning.  Having a working level badge system is, in the long run, not nearly good enough.  it's a bit like trying to enter the first DIY car you built yourself in the Indy 500.  The badge system has to get to the exemplary level if there is any hope for the ONPhD it recognizes to be taken seriously by the stakeholders who care about PhD's.  Don't misunderstand me.  This is a good first step.  However, it is imperatve that those involved in the ONPhD meet the challenge of aligning its components with traditional programs so that it can be demonstrated that the ONPhD is equally rigorous, and they need to do so now, if the process is going to have any credibility.

    on June 19, 2013, 4:29 p.m.

    Peter Rawsthorne said:


    Great feedback, thank-you.

    Yes, the OnPhD is the only badge system available in this P2Pu course. The course is very new and I am the first one through. Loooking forward to assisting another in getting all the way through the course... therefore, we would have another system available as an example.

    I agree with you, the OnPhD Candidacy is a working badge system. It is early in its design as a badge system, yet it maps very well to the criteria defined for each task.

    I like your idea about having 7 sides (points) to the cumulative badge. I will explore this possibility in the next while.

    The OnPhD Candidacy challenge has also just begun... and there are currently only two people actively in persuit of the OnPhD Candidacy badge. We hope for this to grow... Hmmm, consistency... I don't know we are after consistency, but a peer assessment of a person completing the criteria. We would hope there could be multiple pathways into completing each task within the challenge. We really are wanting to embrace peer based open and networked learning within the OnPhD.

    We have invested considerable time and discussion around what is the criteria for an OhPhD. This can be found in our google group;!topic/open-and-networked-phds/arj85gomza4 and on the related wikiversity page; it has been our intention to bring alignment to the traditional PhD, yet we also want it NOT to be restrained by the traditional PhD approach. Its more about attaining a PhD level of knowing a subject domain. Really wanting to find alternative ways to recognize and enourage people who have invested in becoming experts without formal / traditional approaches...

    I totally agree with your thinking that the OnPhD is like the "boss" level of a badge system. That is why I am wanting to do a rework of this P2Pu course. Use a more accessible type of badge system.

    Thanks again Jason. Very grateful for the time you have invested... 


    on July 5, 2013, 10:32 a.m. in reply to Jason
  • Jason said:

    I examined the Khan Academy, Foursquare, and Webmaker  badges systems.  Of these, I thought the Webmaker system had the best design.  The badges were visually distinct and the criteria were clear.  Both the KA and Foursquare systems were done in by scale.  Thw foursquare system had lots of badges which were visually distinct, but they weren't organized  well. You could at least filter out retired badges, but putting criteria on the other side of a hyperlink was annoying, abd the design of the page made it hard to identify badge sequences.  


    Khan Academy uses astronomy themed badges.  This is fine for its current STEM emphasis, but "I just got my Meteorite Badge in ancient Greek history." doesn't make much sense.  Also, Khan divides all its bages into five levels and uses identical graphic elements for all badges at a given level.  This isn't a big deal for someone who is in the process of earning a  badge, but once that badge is in a backpack that an admission officer of HR generalis is scanning in 15 seconds, the earner will wish it were more visually distinct.


    I see a distinction in that the Mozilla system is designed to communicate specific information to third parties about an earner's skills.  The Foursquare and Khan badge systems seem to me to be more motivational carrots, useful only to the earner,

    Doug Belshaw of Mozilla poits to digital badge resources and describe OBI required and optional attributes. is an interesting site that simplifies creating badge graphics.

    on June 17, 2013, 4:01 p.m.

    Peter Rawsthorne said:


    Great review of Khan and foursquare. Yes the badges seem more like carrots for the earner, similar to the community type badges like a stack exchange. I really think you have identified one of the important design attributes of badges. Each badge should be unique and have a design that conveys a "message" or provides a design that means something to both earner and issuer. Also the design should provide imagery that embeds it well within the larger system of knowledge domain. 

    I also believe the Mozilla WebMaker badge system is a very stong design from both the earner perspective and as a badge system as a whole that encourages and makes easily identifiable the learning pathway.

    I'm aware of Doug Belshaws excellent work with open badges and the OBI. Keep in mind this post of his is for the previous version of the metadata specification. Best place to get current OBI information is on the github; looks very promising... looking forward to its growth. 

    Thanks for chiming in....

    on June 18, 2013, 7:51 p.m. in reply to Jason

    Peter Rawsthorne said:


    Could I encourage you to assess the badge system I have designed?

    Thx, Peter

    on June 18, 2013, 7:59 p.m. in reply to Jason
  • Peter Rawsthorne said:

    3. Find a link (URL) to an online resource that describes the making of a digital badge. This link could also point toward a resource describing how to use a graphics editing program to create a badge or an element of a badge (like creating curved text in GIMP)

    I have found the following two GIMP tutorials the most useful when creating badges;

    on May 2, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

    jsn4d said:

    Here is an Illustrator tutorial for a badge:

    Create a Detailed Vector Emblem Badge in Illustrator

    This webpage has a series of tutorials for both buttons and badges. I think many of the looks for buttons could work with the badges.

    50 Tutorials of Creating Buttons And Badges

    Here is a link to premade badges that you can modify. Though they may not fit the organization's look, they would be consistent in their look.

    on June 11, 2013, 2:29 p.m. in reply to Peter Rawsthorne

    Peter Rawsthorne said:


    Looks like we have two Jasons as the most active so far... could I also encourage you to evaluate the badge system I have developed;

    Thanks, Peter

    on June 18, 2013, 8:04 p.m. in reply to jsn4d
  • Peter Rawsthorne said:

    2. Jump ahead to task seven and evaluate on of the other learners badge system design. Evaluate the  badge system design against their performance level they have targeted for the badge system. Be candid, be ruthless... reach out the the badge system author via the P2Pu messaging service.

    I will evaluate the following badge system from task 7;

    • Purpose: working - The badge system represents a significant accomplishment. Given it is wanting to award an equivalent to the PhD Candidacy it is unproven and unrecognised within any community.
    • Graphical Design: introductory - The mono-color badge design is very simplistic with little branding or curriculum recognition. The graphical themes are very simplistic and have no relation to the broader community within it exists.
    • Organization: notable - The badge system is well organized and progress to completion is easily understood. The organization and progression is well supported by the graphics of each badge. The images of the whole badge system ease understandability and being awarded each badge demonstrates an individual accomplishment toward the final goal of OnPhD candidacy.
    • Criteria: notable - the criteria of each badge allows is to be considered an accomplishment within itself. Each badge could also be used within a different badge or learning system with similar goals. The criteria of each badge is timeless and would apply equally well at a future time.
    • Technical Integration: introductory - the badge system has been implemented within a 3rd party badge issuing system and only has integration within the related curriculum system through the final badge within the whole system. The big risk here is the 3rd party badge issuer may not exist into the future.
    • System Integration: notable - The open and networked PhD badge system and related criteria aligns very well with the candidacy requirements found within the traditional PhD. The badging approach also integrates well the open and digital badging approaches. The choice to use both wikiversity and P2Pu was consious due to thier alignment with open and networked learning. The meta-badge issued for completing the challenge wil be issued by P2Pu, further deepening the badge system integration with the learning platform.
    • Assertion: introductory - the issued badge(s) resolve back to URLs that can be confirmed within the issuer and the evidence URL's are baked into the badge.
    • Endorsement: working - the issued badges are endorsed by the OnPhD community. Both Wikiversity and P2Pu have implied endorsement of the OnPhD candidacy badge system. More official endorsement will be sought once one or two candidacies have been completed from this challenge.
    • Validity: introductory - Validity of learning is determined in how the badge evidence aligns with each badges criteria. It is to early in the badge system design to determine depth of learning for the badge earners as there are too few people who have earned the badge(s). Once a number of people have completed the OnPhD candidacy challenge, validity will be determined.
    • Development Team: working - team has two main developers, both with strong technological and pedagogical background. Development of badge criteria has strong subject matter experts.
    on May 2, 2013, 12:09 a.m.
  • Peter Rawsthorne said:

    1. Write a blog post or task discussion item describing what you found when exploring the different badge systems listed above. Compare and contrast the different badge systems. If you write a blog post be sure to provide the link to the post in the task discussion thread.
      • foursquare - provides a very engaging flat badge system. A great example of earning badges for simple accomplishments. In general, foursquare badges are about visiting locations. Some badges are fun accomplishments, like visiting a location of global significance. The simple graphical appeal of the badges bring a cohesiveness to the badges. The foursquare badges are not focused on accomplishing learning goals, this is not to say people would learn if they visited a museum or hardware store a number of times.
      • khan academy - provides a very comprehensive and integrated badge system. The badges are issued stealthfully when the learner completes an activity or lesson. Different scores are given for different badges, and badges are awarded for completing a number of related tasks. Khan Academy has effectively used objects in the universe (meteors, moon, earth, etc.) as the badge design theme. Badges are also grouped into programs and badges are issued for completing courses. The learning journeys associated with badge systems is not easily apparent.
      • mozilla webmaker - provides a great set of badges well aligned with their digital literacy initiative. Badges are earned stealthfully and by completing accomplishments. Their badge system is well articulated and earning pathways are easily identified. The badge design is attractive and encourages engagement and the desire to learn.
      • wikipedia - has been issuing badges (or barnstars), and should be considered one of the first online organizations to offer digital badges. Barnstars are awarded based on contribution and peer review / nomination. Most of the barnstars are stand alone and are not a part of a learning journey. Barnstars represent single accomplishments.
      • carnegie mellon robotics - provides comprehensive learning journey toward computer science use within robotics. The program includes badges awarded along the way with completed tasks. The strength with this project is the good use of learning pathways, which are easily understood.
      • compare and contrast - I believe the creation and use of learning pathways will become recognized as an important design principle when creating badge systems. These pathways can be created using traditional curriculum pathways, used during events and conferences, and by self-directed learners who are creating their own pathways. For the self-directed learner the idea of pathways aligns with personal curriculum mapping. I digress.

        Of the five badge systems above, two provide well visualized and easily understood learning pathways (mozilla webmaker & carnegie mellon robotics), one provides for ongoing learning (khan academy), and the other two are flat and provide recognition of accomplishment (foursquare & wikipedia).I believe all are successful with implementing the purpose of their badge system. I do believe the khan academy could do more with visualizing pathways for their learners for it is not immediately apparent what would be accomplished by pursuing which badges. The differences between the badge systems that support pathways and those focused on individual accomplishment show how both can be valuable in their own way, fun for the earner, have good visual appeal, and fit within the many different aspects of badge earning.
    on May 1, 2013, 11:05 a.m.
  • Peter Rawsthorne said:

    For those following along with this work... there has been a bunch of stuff happening in the background. First off we had a number of people add to the badge system design rubric and provide good feedback. We then had a community call where a bunch of people put in their thoughts and we had good discussion about the rubric and its purpose. We were also given the option to engage with a very interesting project that implements an eRubric tool;

    All this came full circle for me... it took me back to the original rubric and how I believe it will be a good tool to assist people in identifying the elements and attributes of good badge system design. I will continue with this rubrics development and focus on it being a guide.

    on March 6, 2013, 9:45 a.m.
  • Peter Rawsthorne said:

    I've started to create a rubric for badge system design...

    please feel free to add or change... or just discuss, that would be good also!

    on Feb. 19, 2013, 2:26 p.m.

    Peter Rawsthorne said:

    An interesting discussion taking place in the open badges google group. Needs to be referenced here;!topic/openbadges/7U94RKd8tpA/discussion

    Be Well...

    on Feb. 19, 2013, 5:28 p.m. in reply to Peter Rawsthorne

    Mark Sheppard said:


    I've added a few comments to your proposed framework criteria. Looks excellent thus far!



    on Feb. 20, 2013, 9:07 a.m. in reply to Peter Rawsthorne

    Peter Rawsthorne said:


    Thanks for the comments in the google doc. I'm going to reconcile them with some of the other feedback i have been getting and re-publish. I also have a G+ hangout with an academic (Dr. Kyle Peck) who really has a deep knowledge of Badge Systems and Rubrics... so if all goes well we can have a version 1 rubric for guiding the badge system design.

    Be Well... Peter

    on Feb. 21, 2013, 5:03 p.m. in reply to Mark Sheppard