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

Week 1 - Core reading and research (13-19 August 2011)

This study group will follow a 'semesters of learning' model. The approach is emergent but depends upon participants having read the same core texts and accessed the same resources as a starting point.

In this first week, please explore the links at:

Add your questions and thoughts in the comments section as well as links to blog posts, etc. where you reflect on the potential and issues for Open Badges. :-)

There will be a live IRC chat session (see link in the navigation bar to the left) between 20.00 and 21.00 BST (GMT+1) each Saturday.

Update: Thanks to those who joined us in IRC on Saturday. The conversation is archived here:

Task Discussion

  • kvnmcl   Aug. 20, 2011, 4:54 p.m.

    I am a teacher in a Primary School and have decided to use badges within the Information Technology Communications curriculum as a way of acknowledging skills that children have gained themselves both in and out of school. The badges will not only be used by teachers to award children for their skills, learning and understanding but also by the children themselves as I am planning for peer assessment too. Additional badge awards can be gained from peers and by the children themselves on successful completion of additional skill sets (as described by the child and their peers).

    Has anyone else considered using Badges with younger learners? If so, has it been successful and what system do you have in place?

  • Bryan Krusniak   Aug. 18, 2011, 9:16 p.m.

    The application I am investigating for badges is a bit less ambitious.  My thought is to use badges primarily for an internal audience of our employees.  There is a need to both track internal skill sets and recognize those individuals who are continuing to improve their skill sets.  We would then display the badges on internal employee directories.  

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 19, 2011, 4:34 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bryan Krusniak   Aug. 18, 2011, 9:16 p.m.

    Hi Bryan - tell us more! Would these be awarded by peers?

  • Andy Duckworth   Aug. 18, 2011, 7:52 p.m.

    Initially I was interested in this group to figure out a good way to recognize an individual's competency in the various applications we support in my department.   After reading the material for this week I am quite intrigued by the peer distribution of badges and in recognizing competency the "new literacies".

    I am looking forward to learning more about the potential of badges. 

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 19, 2011, 4:35 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Andy Duckworth   Aug. 18, 2011, 7:52 p.m.

    Excellent, Andy, and thanks for joining. I do indeed think that you've hit the nail on the head by identifying the peer distribution of badges as key. :-)

    Is there anything in particular you would like to focus in on for Week Two?

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 17, 2011, 9:24 a.m.

    We're now well into Week One of #openbadges. Thanks to those who have joined up so far! I enjoyed our IRC discussion on Saturday night. There's another one this week at 8pm BST (GMT+1) - do join us if you can.  smiley

    Just to re-iterate, this is an open, informal and collaborative group exploring the potential for Mozilla's Open Badges project for educational assessment. 

    There is no 'course' that we're following here: it's a journey of discovery and serendipity. To that end, it's time to answer the following question:

    How would you like to structure the rest of this 'semester of learning'?

    ...and more particularly:

    What would you like to focus on in Week Two?

    (please add your suggestions as a 'reply' to this post)

  • Jenny Arntzen   Aug. 16, 2011, 3:31 p.m.

    Learner-centered accreditation systems: I took professional development courses at my university to improve my instructional skills. The system they had in place was a paper notebook. Everytime I attended an instructional workshop, I was issued a sticker that indicated I had completed that particular learning experience. These stickers were stuck in my notebook, as evidence of my accomplishment. Now, 4 years later, I cannot find that notebook in any of my papers. I have no other record of having attended these sessions. So, in effect, I cannot cite my accomplishment in my CV as part of my professional development activities.

    An online badge system would solve this problem, especially if the badges were linked to me as a learner, rather than the institution. I can have multiple badges from diverse institutions that provide a composite view of my learning activities, rather than separate transcripts or no evidence of my accomplishments.

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 17, 2011, 9:17 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jenny Arntzen   Aug. 16, 2011, 3:31 p.m.

    Welcome to #openbadges, Jenny, and thanks for sharing. :-)

    You raise an important point - the sustainability of Open Badges is extremely important!

  • Jacky Hood   Aug. 17, 2011, 9:35 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 17, 2011, 9:17 a.m.

    ePortfolios serve a similar function. We should all make sure that the ePortfolios initiatives are aware of Mozilla badges.

    For example, the state of Minnesota provides an ePortfolio for every resident:

    Many community colleges (Bronx, Foothill, LaGuardia, Middlesex, Salt Lake, Tunxis, others) encourage students to develop and maintain ePortfolios.

    For self-learners, here is a PDF of an academic paper: Introducing Live ePortfolios to Support Self Organised Learning


  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 15, 2011, 5:03 p.m.

    I wonder if someone from this burgeoning community would like to start the ball rolling with something else I'm involved in?

    Purpos/ed is a co-operative social enterprise asking the question: What's the purpose of education? We have a series of campaigns, the current one being #purposedassess

    We're into our third week and have asked the question over at Quora, Are 'Open Badges' the future of educational assessment? I thought one or more of us might have an answer to that! ;-)

    More about Purpos/ed at

  • AndiRehak   Sept. 1, 2011, 8:33 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 15, 2011, 5:03 p.m.

    Thanks so much for posting this!  I am now following the question on quora.

  • daniel stucke   Aug. 15, 2011, 3:04 p.m.

    This looks really interesting. The work I've done with Student Digital Leaders at school over the last year has often talked around the idea of giving them accreditation, the SSAT have moved towards a badge system - this would be perfect for that.

    There are key questions around ensuring quality for these badges to take hold. If they are to become something valuable on a CV for example then a prospective employer needs to be able to ascertain the level & rigour involved in the aquisition of the badge.

    Much as I agree that it would be wise to eschew recreating traditional education qualifications with these, for them to take hold it should be relatively clear if they were equivalent to high school / college / degree level. I suppose ensuring that evidence is clearly linked from the badge would actually be a massive improvement over a traditional qualification. As an employer I'd be most impressed if I could delve into the work behind the badge.

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 15, 2011, 4:59 p.m.
    In Reply To:   daniel stucke   Aug. 15, 2011, 3:04 p.m.

    Hi Dan, and thanks for joining #openbadge. :-)

    I think there's two parts to what you're saying here. Firstly, I absolutely agree that there's huge potential in badges to differentiate people to employers in ways that are a lot richer than simply adding a 'start' to an A grade at GCSE/A Level and hoping the problem goes away. The Mozilla Open Badges scenarios show how awesome that would be.

    On the second point on ascertaining the level and rigour involved in acquiring the badge, I see where you're coming from. However, I think there's a real desire within the badge community (if I may call it that yet) to provide a viable alternative system rather than alternative qualification. I think we both know that qualifications that are supposed to be seen as 'equivalent' are rarely seen to be so in practice (think ASDAN, GNVQ, OCR Nationals...)

  • Jacky Hood   Aug. 14, 2011, 11:56 a.m.

    This page in the reading material lists about 20 badge projects.

    What I cannot figure out is how a person contacts the badge issuer to submit evidence. The page asks for a Logon but does not recognize my P2PU logon. When I lie by saying that I have forgotten my password, it tells me I am already logged on -- but I cannot get into the badges.p2pu page from my logged on account. I have searched P2PU from the logged on for badges.p2pu but it never shows up in the search results.

    Has anyone succeeded in logging onto the badges.p2pu area and/or found out how evidence is submitted for any of these ~20 badges?


  • Philipp   Aug. 14, 2011, 1:10 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jacky Hood   Aug. 14, 2011, 11:56 a.m.

    Hey Jacky - The site was only used as a pilot to try out some of our early ideas of how users could get badges. We mostly focused on a "challenge" model, where users would be asked to demonstrate that they had the competency for a particular badge. 

    We are currently building the same features into this site, so that any task could be turned into something that leads to a badge, and not only allow challenge badges but also automated (based on activity logs) ones. 

    I'll ask the developers to mark the site as inactive - sorry about the confusion!

  • Jacky Hood   Aug. 15, 2011, 3:38 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Philipp   Aug. 14, 2011, 1:10 p.m.

    Thanks Philipp.

    By the way, for anyone who was in the chat session on Saturday or who read the stream, I made a mistake in identifying the SoSI badges that appear on as originating with Open Michigan, an initiative at the University of Michigan located in Ann Arbor. Instead SoSI is an initiative of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

    -- Jacky

  • Jackson Bates   Aug. 14, 2011, 12:09 a.m.

    I'm really impressed by the scope of this Mozilla project. I must admit, I signed up merely because I am interested in looking at ways for developing badges in a high school context, so to see this scale up in such a monumental way is pretty inspiring.

    The potential for a new standard in qualifications that learners continue to build upon is very interesting. For example, my own degree and teaching qualifications are relatively old compared to everything I have learned since, and even though there is no formal recognition of my increased learning over the years, save a few references from previous employers, I'd say the undocumented skills I have now make me a far more qualified person than I appear to be on paper. I think the case studies from the open badge system framework draft make this point quite well.

    (Probably a side note: I'm still interested on ways this concept can be used to motivate and validate kids pre-graduation in a way that traditional assessment often misses. I can't see any one school developing the resources to integrate something like this across their own school - but a pre-packaged solution that could be offered to schoos to roll out could have some potential...)

    Update: Just read through the chat log. Sorry to say I probably won't make it to any chats, since they are scheduled for 5am Sunday morning Aussie time, and I'm not that dedicated! :)

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 14, 2011, 5:40 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jackson Bates   Aug. 14, 2011, 12:09 a.m.

    That's a shame, Jackson. Perhaps we could have another session at a time that would suit people on your side of the world? When would suit? :-)

  • Sirkku   Aug. 16, 2011, 6:20 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jackson Bates   Aug. 14, 2011, 12:09 a.m.

    I am also looking for ways to use badges in an upper secondary (middle school in some countries) level. There is potential to incentivize learning, stimulate participation and improve quality. Peer assessment has potential, but could turn into a "popularity contest" if not properly moderated. Badges can also make the individual learning path and achievement more visible and could help communication concerning school work with the parents / caregivers. When applying to upper secondary schools or vocational institutions badges can make a big difference for students applying (especially) to schools with specific entry requirements, making visible and accrediting extra work, talent and intrest. 

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 11:55 a.m.

    Hi everyone, just a reminder that there's a live IRC chat tonight at 8pm BST (GMT+1). You can see what time that is where you are here. Join in by clicking on the #p2pu-235-open-badge link next to 'Chat' in the menu to the left-hand side of the group.

    Feel free to drop in for 5 minutes to say hi or stay for longer. It's your semester of learning, it's up to you! :-)

  • Terry Wassall   Aug. 13, 2011, 9:51 a.m.


    It might be useful to think about what we might be doing for the second round of tasks sooner rather than later. Doug says these will be discussions around the questions that arise from the readings in Task 1. So far my questions would be about creating some sort of taxonomy of badge types and levels. I will look at as Doug suggested to look at examples of existing badges. I would quite like us to discuss and outline one or more scenarios of our own and then try to specify and design badges that would be useful for them. I think this would bring out concretely what the issues and problems are. One possible scenario is alluded to by Thomas, that of some sort of HE offering. The Social Science Centre at Lincoln might suggest one possible version of this scenario. Another one I would be interested in would be where a social movement or interest group collaborates with experts in a particular field to extend their knowledge of a topic to be more effective in achieving their objectives. For instance, a group that wants to resist GM products engaging with sympathetic scientists, or a group that is concerned with issues around biotechnologies. These collaborateive learning  processes would effectively mix political, economic and scientific types of knowledge with social, ethical and moral considerations that resist the tendency for policy frameworks to be dominated by scientific, technocratic and managerialist assumptions and norms. Any other thoughts?

  • Sirkku   Aug. 13, 2011, 9:05 a.m.

    Formal testing is rarely done in the Finnish system but varied assessment takes place since we still have to give marks to the students twice a year. Last year I used an e-portfolio (Learning Diary) that offers a variety of options for assessment of different type of work. I look forward to seeing how this project adds to those experiences.

  • IaninSheffield   Aug. 13, 2011, 3 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Sirkku   Aug. 13, 2011, 9:05 a.m.

    One of my first thoughts about Badges was that there seemed to be the potential to link with eportfolios. Both involve some degree of learner autonomy in the way they choose to display their progress and achievements.

    I'll be interested to see the ways in which you might think each system supports the other ... or indeed if they're completely separate and perform different tasks!

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 6:34 a.m.

    Hi everyone,

    Having just gone back through the link given in the Week 1 Task, I'd encourage you to really delve deep into the links. There's some fascinating stuff in there! :-)

  • Jacky Hood   Aug. 13, 2011, 9:51 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 6:34 a.m.

    Grant funders and the realities of the world economy are encouraging all open education projects to be self-sustaining. We at College Open Textbooks see the upcoming Beta of Mozilla Badges not just as a trial of the infrastructure and pedagogy but also of business models for this new form of competency-based low-barriers-to-entry learning.

    College Open Textbooks plans to charge 1/1000 of the per-capita GDP of the country where the badge-seeker resides. This is about 1/3 of a day's wages -- ranging from US$85 in Monaco to US$45 in the USA, US$40 in Germany, and less then US$1 in developing countries. We will encourage corporations, foundations, and individuals to find 10 badges for $250 to be used for those who cannot afford the fees. We will use PayPal to process the payments; it serves all but a few countries. We will award badges without charge to residents of the non-PayPal countries (Libya, North Korea, etc.)

    Please see Mozilla Badges – Following and Starting Grand Traditions and our slides from the Mozilla Badges presentation at Sloan-C/MERLOT ET4 conference.

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 10:43 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jacky Hood   Aug. 13, 2011, 9:51 a.m.

    Great! Thanks for those links, Jacky. :-)

    (Perhaps we need a central place to collate links? What do people think?)

  • Jackson Bates   Aug. 13, 2011, 11:30 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 10:43 a.m.

    A diigo group?

  • Sirkku   Aug. 14, 2011, 4:38 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 10:43 a.m.

    Yes to a link gallery! Diigo would work well.

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 14, 2011, 5:45 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Sirkku   Aug. 14, 2011, 4:38 a.m.

    OK, it seems like Diigo would be a good idea so I've gone ahead and created a group at: Feel free to add any and all relevant links!

    It's also linked to from 'Links' in the sidebar here at :-)

  • Thomas Gokey   Aug. 12, 2011, 5:07 p.m.

    I'm really excited about this. I read the draft working badge paper a few weeks ago and just re-skimmed it now.

    My main worry about the badges appraoch is that it will only be a kind of add-on to the normal educational modle. What I'm mainly interested in doing is entering into direct confrontation with the university as it currently exists. I want to fight with the university, offer an alternative to it, and fundamentally challange the values at work in the university. I'm worried that a badge just isn't going to cut it, that it won't be taken seriously enough or that it will only be taken seriously as an add-on to a "real" university education.

    But I'm hoping that we can make badges real and every bit as valuable as university credit at an ivy league school. I'm not exactly how to go about this, but this is what I'm going to try to learn from this class.

    Okay, just to be provocative, let's say that 50 of the worlds best professors in the humanities decide that in spring of 2012 they are going to take the class that they would have normally taught at their respective ivy league schools and instead of teaching it at a "real" university they were going to teach it at their local public library instead. All of the same students would take the class, but instead of paying overpriced tuition they would pay something more modest, maybe $300. The professor would pocket nearly the full amount, maybe dedicating some of it to classroom supplies. The professor would do all of the regular teaching they would normally do, lecture, lead demos, grade papers/projects, etc. The students would do all of their regular student activiites too, take notes, do readings, write papers, give presentations, etc. At the end of the semester each student would get a badge signifiying that they had succesfully completed the class. Some of them might get additional badges given by their classmates for being a good team player, etc. Some students might not do all of the work or do it poorly and wouldn't end up getting the badge.

    In the end, however, students from these 50 different classes just got the same education at a fraction of the cost. The professors just made the same amount of money (or more) and put in the same amount of effort. Because the professors are all already respected in their fields, and because they've banded together as a group of 50, the badges that they offer carry real weight within the academy. Articulation aggreements are created between the 50 classes, experimental schools, and even a few sympathetic "real" universities that basically say that they acknowledge the badges as carrying the same weight as normal academic credit.

    What problems to people see here? Can we solve them? Want to try it?

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 6:39 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Thomas Gokey   Aug. 12, 2011, 5:07 p.m.

    I thought I'd responded to this, but it didn't show up. Ho hum...

    Thomas, this is a great idea. It would allow those who can't afford to invest the time or money in 3/4 years of university education to nevertheless get a step on the ladder towards better, more aspirational things.

    You asked what problems people see with your proposal. I can see only one, and it's something that can't really be easily sorted (except maybe through positive discrimination). That problem is middle-class 'cultural capital'. The awareness and ability of certain privileged groups to ensure that they or their offspring are positioned so as to do well in a changing landscape. In this particular case, it might be to contact professors to ensure that their little darlings get on the course.

    Other than that, the mechanics of it sound great.  :-)

  • Terry Wassall   Aug. 13, 2011, 8:57 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 6:39 a.m.

    On the issue of middle class cultural capital and the possibility they will exploit the sort of scheme Thomas outlines, I think this may not be a problem to begin with at least. The lack of formally recognised accreditation from a known institution would be a disincentive to many m/class parents. They would probably only be interested if what was on offer could be seen as additional coaching in support of their children's academic work at a normal university.

    One way around this is not to offer a copy of what is on offer at normal universities. Gramsci's criticism of the public universities in Italy the early decades of the 20th century is that a) their lecturers assumed their working class students were starting from the same place as their m/class students at the mainstream universities and b) they approached the content of their courses and the teaching methods in the same way too. Another approach is to negotiate the syllabus and curriculum on the basis of what potential learners are interested in. This would also mean seeing students as themselves knowledgeable about their own lives, conditions and experience. This involves challenging the traditional teacher/learner distinction and promoting a process of the co-construction of relevant knowledge. Imagine what sort of syllabus might emerge around the notion of 'citizenship' for example if this approach was taken, or an investigation of issues around environmental problems. 

  • Jacky Hood   Aug. 13, 2011, 10:12 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Thomas Gokey   Aug. 12, 2011, 5:07 p.m.


    Cost is not the only and, in many cases, not the major barrier to entry of traditional higher education. Limited enrollment is the main barrier. Employers and the student's future clients see this as a positive; they care less what knowledge and skills the student gains in a particular class and more about the fact that s/he had to have years of learning and experience, high test scores, awards, participation in activities, and more to be admitted to the program. Also, the students in an elite program are challenged by and learn from the other students who have equally strong backgrounds.

    In addition geography is a barrier. In your example, only people in the city where the library is located can participate.

    Mozilla Badges can surmount these objections by offering online programs with global cohorts that challenge and engage. Then we must find traditional educational institutions that will recognize Mozilla Badges and allow them to be exchanged for credit in certificate and degree programs.


  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 13, 2011, 10:45 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Terry Wassall   Aug. 13, 2011, 8:57 a.m.

    I agree that it wouldn't be a problem to begin with, but care must be taken I think. The problem with all this is to make it complex enough behind the scenes to work but simple enough in the way it's presented to be effective and to be taken up by learners.

  • Jackson Bates   Aug. 13, 2011, 11:49 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Thomas Gokey   Aug. 12, 2011, 5:07 p.m.

    This really reminds me of Frank Zappa's suggestion: 'If you wanna get laid, go to college. If you wanna get an education, go to the library.'

    I think the prospect of trying to challenge Universities head on at the moment is too extreme to be workable in our current society, but I think the potential for this system of qualification awards is incredible. I think the social and community validation inherent in the badge system, as it is currently proposed, has real value and would eventually be regarded highly.

    My concern in the short term is that these badges simply won't be taken seriously for quite some time, but that hasn't stopped any other innovations that were worth launching.

    I personally like the idea that they can suppliment traditional qualifications, particularly in the developed world, where traditional qualifications are losing their value. As more people graduate with Bachelors degrees, there becomes a greater emphasis on needing Post-Grad study to stand out from the crowd. The 'inflation' attached to these academic qualifications means that eventually we'll all need Ph.Ds! The badge system offers an excellent way to personalise and build upon existing qualifications in a way that adds value that is relevant for the learner in their own context. This is already done informally, with extra-curricula and voluntary work that can help differentiate the resumes of graduates, but the badge system does this with a new sense of authority and, importantly, a little web 2.0 flair.

    Having something to show for non-traditional learning is excellent, too. I'm very excited by the possibilities!

  • Sirkku   Aug. 15, 2011, 7:28 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jacky Hood   Aug. 13, 2011, 10:12 a.m.


    Right on the nail Jacky. Studies at a reputable university do not necessarily testify for exceptional skill, knowledge or extraordinary intrest in the subject but an exam serves as a "stamp of approval" for certain employers and they are regarded as a verfication of ambition, social aptitude, good network and knowing how to play the game. Mozilla Badges will hopefully offer a serious alternative in accrediting verified and demonstrated competencies and thus giving "the establishment a run for their money".

  • Terry Wassall   Aug. 12, 2011, 3:39 p.m.

    I am interested in Open Badges as it may be relevant to another project I am peripherally involved in, The Social Science Centre at Lincoln. It may also be relevant to something else I am thinking about, finding an on-line method of continuing a Sociology of the Environment module (perhaps renamed and modified) as an open education project after I finish teaching it at Leeds University on retirement.

    So far I have read the draft Working badge paper. Questions emerge around a number of issues. There are clear differences of types of badge and the different sorts of 'meta-information' that describes and validates them. I guess formal and fairly objective forms of assessment might be straightforward but 'nominations or endorsements from peers or colleagues' would need more thinking about. I like very much the idea that badges can be associated with aspects of the learning process rather than specific objectives, but these would need to be carefully described and validated. Perhaps these could be associated with learner produced content or contributory activity.

    I'm having a problem getting my head round what the document says about different levels and different types of badge. I think it would be useful to collectively design a series of badges and their rubrics for this exercise. 

  • Doug Belshaw   Aug. 12, 2011, 4:07 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Terry Wassall   Aug. 12, 2011, 3:39 p.m.

    Hi Terry, have you seen Seeing it in practice made it more obviously useful to me. :-)

  • Terry Wassall   Aug. 13, 2011, 9:16 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Doug Belshaw   Aug. 12, 2011, 4:07 p.m.

    Thanks Doug. Very interesting. Are there examples of how badges are displayed on a web page?