Planet Webmaker

April 18, 2014

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [36]

Welcome to your weekly roundup of badgeriffic news and updates!

This week’s calls were jam-packed with exciting project launches and badge system reports, generating lots of enthusiasm and discussion. The badging team at Penn State joined the Research & Badge System Design Call to share the thinking behind the Lifelong Learning Landscape developed by Dr Kyle Peck and Chris Gamrat to badge teacher professional development - read more here. On the Community Call, the Badge Alliance leadership shared updates on the working groups and the Cities of Learning kick-off - read more here.

What else happened this week?

That’s a wrap, folks!

Have a great weekend - Happy Easter to those who celebrate, Happy Chocolate Day to those who plan to indulge :)

April 18, 2014 03:56 PM

"A credential, like any common currency, is valued only because of the collective agreement to assign..."

“A credential, like any common currency, is valued only because of the collective agreement to assign it value. The value of a college degree has been in question since the Great Recession, but there have yet to emerge clear alternatives for the public to rally the around. There are plenty of contenders, though, and it won’t be long before one of them crystalizes the idea for the masses that the traditional degree is increasingly irrelevant in a world with immediate access to evaluative information.”

- Michael Staton - Harvard Business Review (via worldofe)

April 18, 2014 03:08 PM

Open Badges Community Call, April 16, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, April 16, 2014:



This week members of the Badge Alliance leadership shared details of some of the projects and meetings that kicked off in recent weeks, and members of the Open Badges team spoke about events they led.

Badge Alliance Working Groups kick-off

The Badge Alliance, announced at the Summit to Reconnect Learning, will collaboratively tackle important issues, questions and opportunities to continue to push the work forward, led by Erin Knight, formerly the Badges + Skills Lead at Mozilla. The first task of the Alliance has been to develop working groups, sets of organizations dedicated to tackling important issues or driving specific campaigns to move the open badging ecosystem forward.

This week, two of the Badge Alliance working groups held their first meetings to introduce the leads of the group and start identifying goals for the first “cycle” of the Alliance calendar (April-September 2014). The working group on badges for educators kicked off today, and the group on the open badges standard launched their first call on Tuesday.

Chris McAvoy, Lead Engineer of the Open Badges project at Mozilla, is the Chair of this working group, and joined the community call to share his thoughts on the first working group meeting.

The group are drafting a document that outlines what the working group is going to do and where it’s going to go - a manifesto of sorts - and then get to work on shaping the future of the open badge infrastructure (OBI). To date, the OBI has been a series of specifications, which can be confusing. The goal of this group is to move the specifications more towards a standard that is clearer and easier to align with, maintain, and build from.

Two key areas the working group will focus on:

  1. Write a charter document / constitution for the group that defines how the group works, how decisions will be made, and other operational and community guidelines;
  2. Formalize and clarify documentation of the OBI specifications
Chris hopes that these initial goals will help the group move toward making the OBI being more of a standard, not just a specification, which should make it “even easier to extend and do cool stuff with.”

Join the Badge Alliance

The Alliance will launch fully in June 2014, but the initial working groups are hitting the ground running in these key areas (just click the group names to apply for membership):

Cities of Learning 2014

Last summer, Mozilla and partners worked with the City of Chicago to create a badge system to recognize summer learning achievements by youth in the Chicago Summer of Learning, to much success - over 100,000 badges were earned during the summer program.

This year, as well as an expanded Summer of Learning and Earning initiative, Mayor Emanuel has announced that Chicago will become a year-round City of Learning dedicated to recognizing informal learning experiences of Chicago’s youth beyond the summer.

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, the Badge Alliance is working other cities across the US to build summer learning badge pilots for this summer. There are currently about 5-7 cities who will be launching a Cities of Learning initiative in the coming months. Two have already launched: as well as Chicago (led by the Digital Youth Network at DePaul), Pittsburgh announced last week that their City of Learning badge pilot (led by the Sprout Fund) is launching this summer, and released an open call for organizations interested in awarding badges for summer activities.

Other cities slated to launch City of Learning initiatives in 2014 are L.A. (with Beyond the Bell) and Dallas (with Big Thought), and potentially Columbus, OH and Boise, ID.

Stay tuned for more information to be shared on this blog as the summer draws nearer!

Education Innovation in Finland

Last week, Mozilla’s Research + Design Lead Emily led a session and workshop on Webmaker Badges with Doug Belshaw and Melissa Romaine at Oppi Festival, as well as the Interactive Technology in Education 2014 conference in Finland.

Inspired by her conversations with educators, technologists and professional development enthusiasts in Finland, Emily wrote a blog post highlighting some resources worth sharing (copied below):

Eric Rousselle joined the Community Call in December 2013 to talk about the thinking behind Open Badge Factory, due for first release on January 15, 2014. Open Badge Factory is a global cloud-based service from Discendum, which enables organizations to create and manage their Open Badges in a centralized repository. Check out a summary of his presentation here.

  1. It’s so exciting to see these projects progressing, and to see the expansion of the badges work manifesting in the Badge Alliance. Don’t forget to sign up for the Badge Alliance working groups that interest you, and join us for next weeks Community Call where Doug Belshaw will be talking about the amazing work being done to develop the Web Literacy Map!

April 18, 2014 02:48 AM

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 16, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 16, 2014:


Speakers: Chris Gamrat, Kyle Peck, Kyle Bowen, Chris Stubbs, Brett Bixler + Ken Layng, Penn State

Dr. Kyle Peck is the Director of the “Center for Online Innovation in Learning” (COIL) at Penn State, and Chris Gamrat is an instructional designer in the College of Information Sciences & Technology and the P.I. for the Lifelong Learning Landscape (L3) grant that started development of a digital badging platform for Penn State.

Kyle and Chris proposed the “Lifelong Learning Landscape,” a project that is a collaboration between the Penn State University College of Education, the Alumni Career Services, Continuing Education, and the Teaching and Learning with Technology Group to create a broad-based badging system for credit and non-credit topics. The Lifelong Learning Landscape is modeled after the NASA/NSTA “Teacher Learning Journeys” project Penn State produced for STEM teachers.

In one of our most passionate Research + Badge System Calls to date, Kyle, Chris, and the rest of the PSU team joined us to share the thinking behind the Lifelong Learning Landscape and their goals for the future.

Badges for Penn State

The team at PSU are raising a lot of important questions as they develop their badge system, exploring both learners’ and employers’ relationships with badges, the content and design elements of badge creation, as well as assessment and learning analytics:

"Get excited for your performance reviews, staff!"

The team is very familiar with the concept of badges, and knows their potential to recognize soft skills and other attributes that aren’t well captured by traditional credentials and transcripts. They are now looking into the realm of learning analytics, looking at the various ways to present information to students, and exploring peer assessment, particularly implementation at a systems level and finding ways to ensure consistency and make sure the badges being peer assessed are appropriate for this method of evaluation, looking at how perceptions of badges are changed when they are assessed by peers as opposed to mentors/instructors.

Another way the team at PSU are exploring badges is looking at how badges could change the way educators manage the professional development and performance review processes, experimenting with their own performance reviews at Penn State before launching a pilot badge system for teacher professional development.

They launched a pilot involving 36 teachers in grades K-12, and focused the majority of their case study research on 8 teachers (4 elementary and 4 middle school), looking at 52 written reflections as part of the teachers’ records of completed professional development activities.

Chris Gamrat described this pilot badge system for teacher professional development as having two levels of indicators: lower-level “stamps” required less rigorous documentation and assessment, and were related to surface-level activities for the educator, whereas higher-level “badges” were connected to things that “were going to change a student’s learning.” The badges in this system were ‘practice-oriented’ - for example, asking teachers to develop a lesson plan around what they were learning - to demonstrate the potential effect on students’ learning experiences.

Overall, the team found that teachers often opted for breadth over depth, choosing to earn more of the surface-level stamps versus the deeper-level badges. They found that the teachers did personalize their experiences through their choice of activities, and that they were oriented by the goals statements set out at the beginning of the process, an interesting finding for others to bear in mind when developing badges for teacher PD.

Moving forward, the team is looking at what worked (and didn’t) during the pilot, comparing two different iterations of the system to better support teacher reflections through a log or record, as well as drawing from earlier PD experiences, in future versions. They are also focused on understanding “power users” of the badge system to inform its development.

To see the full discussion of this pilot system, check out the etherpad notes, and listen to the recording by clicking the link at the top of this blog post.

Read more about the PSU badge system pilot in their published case study: Catalyst For Change - A Penn State Case Study on Digital Badges

April 18, 2014 02:45 AM

April 15, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Call for Badges Pilot Project for Pittsburgh City of Learning Initiative

Read the original post on Remake Learning.


This summer, Pittsburgh will join other Cities of Learning from across the United States in a groundbreaking initiative to pair learning opportunities for young people with digital badges in ways that allow learners to think about, pursue, and develop their interests.

The Cities of Learning initiative was piloted last year in Chicago, to great success. And last week, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Summer of Learning is being expanded this year, to become the City of Chicago Learning and Earning Initiative, aimed at engaging youth throughout the year.

In Pittsburgh this summer, badges will enable young people to take new paths of discovery, explore the city’s rich resources, and find out what they can learn, make, do, and ultimately become.

The Sprout Fund invites organizations from the Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network, schools, libraries, museums, and other youth-serving organizations offering summer learning experiences to apply to participate in this regional effort.

For more information on how your organization can get involved in the Pittsburgh City of Learning program, click here.

Pittsburgh City of Learning

April 15, 2014 06:21 PM

April 12, 2014

Open Badges blog

Mayor Emanuel Announces Expanded Citywide Summer of Learning and Earning Initiative with Over 10,000 Additional Learning And Employment Opportunities for Chicago Youth

Read the original press release here.


On April 9, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Chicago’s youth will now have access to an additional 10,000 academic and job training opportunities through partnerships across the City as part of 2014’s Summer of Learning and Earning, a citywide initiative to keep Chicago youth ages 4 to 24 active and engaged this summer. The “Summer of Learning and Earning 2014” will provide more than 215,000 opportunities for Chicago’s young people, including interactive activities at parks, libraries, schools, museums and cultural institutions, colleges and universities; community- and faith-based programs, jobs through at City and County departments and sister agencies; and self-paced, online learning activities.

“In the wake of last year’s incredibly successful summer programming, I am pleased to see our citywide summer initiatives growing and thriving as we work to support the educational and career goals of all Chicago students and young adults,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Providing additional opportunities in the summer months is an important way to keep our youth safe, active and engaged, and ensure our students are graduating 100% college ready and 100% college bound.”

The Summer of Learning and Earning will include the Chicago Summer of Learning, which the Mayor launched last year to call together the entire city to an all-hands-on-deck effort to make summer count and support science, technology, engineering, art, and math learning for students of all ages. One Summer Chicago will also add an additional 2,000 job opportunities. Since the Mayor has taken office, job opportunities for youth have increased from 14,000 to 22,000.


The Summer of Learning and Earning will once again engage youth by challenging them to earn digital badges to mark their successes. These badges are a tangible way for students to display their activities and achievements to teachers, college admissions officers or future employers, making learning pathways visible and recognizing student accomplishments. Last summer, Chicago launched the world’s first citywide digital badging system to recognize out-of-school student learning, and students earned approximately 100,000 badges.

Connie Yowell, Director of Education for U.S. Programs at the MacArthur Foundation, said that Chicago has become a model for the nation. “The first-ever program that treated summer activities as examples of connected learning and provided badges for youth participation and achievement, last year’s Summer of Learning was incredibly successful, awarding more than 100,000 badges to participants,” said Yowell. “In fact the program was so successful that now five other cities are replicating Mayor Emanuel’s signature program, coming together under the cities of learning banner to provide youth with learning and badging opportunities. “

April 12, 2014 08:02 PM

April 11, 2014

Matt Thompson

Writing for Webmaker’s new “Explore” page

Explore copy.021

What should this copy say?

We’re shipping a new “explore” page for Webmaker. The goal: help users get their feet wet, quickly grokking what they can do on Plus: make it easy to browse through the list of skills in the Web Literacy Standard, finding resources and teaching kits for each.

It’s like an interactive text book for teaching web literacy.

The main writing challenge: what should the top panel say? The main headline and two blurbs that follow.

In my mind, this section should try do three things:

  1. State what this is. And why you care.
  2. Tell a story about the list of skills at left. When you hit this page, you see a list of rainbow-coloured words that can be confusing or random if you’re here for the first time. “Sharing. Collaborating. Community Participation…. Hmmm…. what does that all actually mean?”
  3. Focus on what users can do here. What does exploring those things do for you? What’s the action or value?

Explore copy.022

First draft

Here a start:

Teach the web with Webmaker

Explore creative ways to teach
 digital skills…
through fun making and sharing, backed by the
global Mozilla community’s Web Literacy Standard.

Free. Open source. Fun.

Each skill has free resources and teaching kits anyone can use to teach others –
to help create a more web literate world.

Next steps

April 11, 2014 08:22 PM

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [35]


We hope the week has treated you all well - in most of our time zones, the temperatures are reaching very friendly temperatures, and you know what that means: daylight extends beyond work hours now!

We’ve had a great week with badges - this week on the Community Call we looked at some of the common challenges and lessons learned from those who have developed / are developing badge systems in the new ecosystem. We were joined by some of those we spoke to when writing our initial case studies, which was great!

Kim Carter joined this week’s Research & Badge System Design Call for a deep dive into the QED learning ecosystem and competency-based education with her colleague, Elizabeth Cardine, and a QED alumna, Raven Gill.

What else did we get up to this week?

In celebration of spingtime finally arriving, here are some dancing badgers for your Friday smile:


See you on Monday, everyone!

April 11, 2014 06:58 PM

April 10, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges: Lessons Learned in the Developing Ecosystem

Call recording:


This week on the Community Call we looked at some of the common challenges and lessons learned from those who have developed / are developing badge systems in the new ecosystem.

Our Global Coordinator Jade worked with HASTAC’s Sheryl Grant to draft our initial case studies, which are published on the Summit to Reconnect Learning website. Nate Otto has been working with Dan Hickey and a team of researchers at Indiana Univeristy on the badge Design Principles Documentation project, which has looked at the badge systems developed by the grant recipients from the fourth DML Competition, “Badges for Lifelong Learning.” Nate has also started writing a set of working examples from these 30 grantees.

They were joined by a number of representatives from the organizations interviewed for both sets of case studies to dive into some common road blocks and lessons learned that might help future badge system designers.

It was great to hear people sharing their experiences on the call - click the link at the top of this blog post to listen to the call in full, or read on for a summary of the discussion!

Common Challenges and Concerns

There were many questions and concerns about how to start developing a badge system by those we spoke to. Here are three of the most common challenges foreseen or encountered as organizations began designing their systems:

This was a particular concern among those in schools and colleges, where faculty and staff are already very busy. How can an institution begin to integrate badges that require some level of staff engagement in such a way that is seen as valuable and rewarding to the staff?

This was a common challenge faced by early adopters of badges across numerous sectors. As much of the open badge standard requires some technical knowledge, many organizations recognized they would need someone on their team to provide technical support, or to form partnerships with another organization.

The recent release of BadgeKit was a result of acknowledging the technical barriers to badge issuing. Future versions will include even more features and accessibility, making it easier for organizations to join the ecosystem.

Badge value (or rigor) is a concern of many who are new to the ecosystem. Carla Casilli recently laid out her thoughts on the ‘myth of the lightweight badge,’ where she argues all badges can play a valuable role in identity building as well as showcasing skills and recognizing various forms of learning. Many organizations developing badge systems had to address the question of whether their badges would be valued - by students, or teachers, or employers - and, in some cases, how to ensure their value extended beyond the learning environment.

Lessons Learned

Think about the potential for your badge system to expand, but don’t try and do too much, too fast. Start with the basics, the minimum you want to achieve with your badge system, and once you’ve built a strong foundation, it will be easier to expand. That could mean starting with one class or grade before expanding to badge an entire school, or focusing on a certain type of professional development or informal learning exercise before encompassing others.

It’s exciting to think of the many possibilities for badges when starting out, it can feel overwhelming to try and develop a system that covers everything from the beginning. Break it down so that your system development happens in stages, allowing you to build a robust foundational badge system and address feedback and potential problems before expanding.

For badges to be valuable, they must be tied to valuable experiences. By thinking about the learning or development objectives for your badge system, you can think about the kinds of activities, criteria, and evidence that will be suitable for your community, whether that’s in a school, workplace or network.

Think about what it will mean for your badge system to be successful. Will it mean that students gain academic credit for informal or out-of-school activities represented by badges? Or is it a way for teachers (and students) to track students’ progress? Do you want your staff to be recognized for their professional development in a way they can show to employers and peers? Or a way to identify workers whose skill sets align with industry standards?

Once you’ve outlined your goals and identified what ‘success’ means for your badge system, you can start to think about how to get people there, and the role badges will play in that progression.

As well as technical barriers, there are other potential limitations to consider, including time, money, and people needed to develop your badge system. This is a good reason to start small - the more complex your system, the more costly it will be to implement, so again, think about the minimum successful foundation of your system. This will give more time to gain wider acceptance, support, and resources for future expansion.

Partnerships can be immensely valuable in building a badge system, whether they provide technical support, funding, or endorsement of badges. However, it is important to make sure you find the right partner for your organization. Take your time, do your research, and find the partner that is best suited to your needs (or restrictions.)

Badges are often slated as a disruption, designed to act instead of current methods of credentialing, when they often play a supplementary role. If your school, workplace, or network uses existing frameworks or standards to guide learning or development, this could be an asset. Not only can these structures potentially add value to your badges, they also provide a map of what is already there, so you can identify places where your badging objectives overlap, and gaps your badges can fill.

Cliff Manning once wrote he suffered from “Badge Eye," a condition where he sees badges everywhere, and many badge enthusiasts and evangelists find themselves in similar situations.

As badges are a relatively new concept for many people, you may find that your team and community need time to “buy in” to the idea. Give them time - and provide resources to help educate, inform, and support those in your organization you want working with the badges.

Allow more time than you think you’ll need for faculty / staff / student / administrative / stakeholder buy-in. The more support you have going in, the smoother the process is likely to be.

Keep talking!

If you are starting to develop a badge system - or thinking about it - there are many places to go for support, guidance, advice, and resources. We listed them in a recent blog post, and we’re easily reached by email at

Good luck, badge pioneers. We look forward to seeing more exciting badge systems emerging!

April 10, 2014 09:57 PM

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 9, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 9, 2014:


Speaker: Kim Carter, QED Foundation

Kim Carter, who shared her work at the QED Foundation with the Community Call back in November, joined us again this week for a deep dive into the QED learning ecosystem and competency-based education with her colleague, Elizabeth Cardine, and a QED alumna, Raven Gill.

Educational Equity

The QED Foundation’s work aims to encompass all learning, not just for youth, but also focusing on at-risk and adult learners as well as encompassing student-driven, competency-based learning strategies inspired by their Theory of Change.

The Making Community Connections (MC2) Charter School mission is “to establish a sustainable network of multiple preschool through graduate school pathways for high quality learning that are student centered, mastery based, and community oriented.”

There are 5 beliefs at the center of their approach:

  1. You can learn anything at any time. The QED Foundation sees learning as a progression through phases (not grades) and acknowledges that learning happens not only in nonlinear paths, but also in an interconnected, truly interdisciplinary, way. Kids progress when they master / complete a stage, rather than basing progression on a set timeframe for everyone.
  2. We care about who you are. Students express who they are through their interests, which not only motivates them to learn but also allows instructors to see students’ strengths, challenges and abilities.
  3. You set your own pace. Rather than using a time-based approach, QED places its focus on critical thinking, decision making, etc, establishing a “negotiated pace” between students and a learning team based on 18 habits for lifelong learning
  4. Learning should happen anytime and anywhere. The QED learning format gives 10 weeks ‘on’ and 3 weeks ‘off’ for students; additionally, there is one week of staff PD each quarter, allowing for varied and continuous learning throughout the year for staff and students.
  5. Your voice matters. As alaboratory of democratic practice,” QED believes their work cannot be done without the voice, and agency, of the learners.
  6. Your parents are in your business! The QED team recognize the importance of parents in supporting their students’ learning.

Badges for QED

As outlined above in the 5 Core Beliefs, the QED Foundation has been working to create competency-based pathways and opportunities within the (MC2) Charter School. To this end, they ask students to set goals for the week / quarter / year, and to provide daily reflections on these at the end of each day that went into an end-of-day (EOD) portal for feedback.

They feel these reflections are an important tool for students to feel heard by the adults and staff working with them, as well as being the “canary in the coalmine” for staff to keep a pulse on learners’ progression, so this was one of the things they decided to badge. The badges not only provide a tool for students to become self-motivated, but provide important feedback to students and staff, much as the reflections do, but on a wider scale.


The QED team also began badging staff professional development. As the “master learners in the system,” staff —-. Badges not only recognize their continued learning and development, but also provide feedback. This data makes it easier for staff to do their work, and gives them a sense of agency that may not have been as clear before.

The QED competency-based model is used for student learning and for staff professional development, using continuous feedback loops to support or “scaffold” their learning.

Just as the students set goals and provide daily reflections within the EOD portal, the QED staff  also set quarterly goals for certification and re-certification. Staff then present their learning and professional development at exhibitions each quarter.

School as an experience

When designing their badge system, the QED team kept in mind the larger concept of “school as an experience” that captured all kinds of learning. They used Lucas Blair's badge taxonomy (graphic below) to help them figure out the “unknown unknowns” of badging, allowing them to align the many options with the charter school's mission and philosophy to create a badge system based on individual and cooperative badges that reflected the learning experiences of their students and staff.


The QED charter school badges were designed with student participation, for both the design of the badges and their representation. This ensured the badges created were those that best reflected the goals of the daily reflections and of the learning ecosystem as a whole.

As part of the EOD portal, the team also built in an element of gamification with a ‘badge counter’ that kept track of badges earned, which many students responded to as a source of motivation, momentum, and metacognition, increasing learners’ awareness of their status and progress.

In this way, the badges provided a sense of accomplishment for their successes and feedback for their challenges. They were a way for students to understand where they were on their own personal learning pathways at any point as they progressed towards graduation.

To view the call discussion in full, check out the etherpad notes. You can also check out the QED team’s presentation slides for more details.

April 10, 2014 08:42 PM

April 09, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges: Lessons Learned in the Developing Ecosystem

Open Badges: Lessons Learned in the Developing Ecosystem:

Today’s Community Call will look at some common themes from lessons learned across different develop[ed/ing] badge systems. Join us!

April 09, 2014 03:12 PM

April 08, 2014

Open Badges blog

Micro-Credentials: Empowering Lifelong Learners

Micro-Credentials: Empowering Lifelong Learners:

Edutopia published this piece by Krista Moroder yesterday. Check out this very important paragraph hidden in the middle of the article:

"[B]adges could be a way to demonstrate skills to potential employers, build identity and reputation within learning communities, and create pathways for continued learning and leadership roles."

Did you catch that?

That’s some pretty important stuff, if you ask us.

Let’s work together to build rigorous standards for badge assessments and strengthen the value of #openbadges at the ecosystem level.

Read the article in full by clicking the link above.

April 08, 2014 12:20 PM

Laura Hilliger

Training with Friends

This weekend, I’ll be leading a Webmaker Training for the National Citizens Service (NCS). NCS is an organization in the UK that provides learning opportunities for young people living in England and Northern Ireland – young people who are encouraged to lead positive change within their communities. For the first time ever, NCS has invited graduates from their programs to become Digital Champions, a group of people who will lead social action projects and spread web literacy skills in their local communities. This is the Teaching Kit we’ll be using to guide us during the event. Let me tell you why I’m SO EXCITED to be doing this:

This is the first official “Webmaker Training”

I run trainings all the time, but they’re always one-offs, offshoots, and truncated versions of my dream learning scenario. In 2013 we ran two prototypes – a live training for Mozilla Reps called Training Days and an online training called Teach the Web, both were hugely successful. My dream learning scenario combines these two initiatives. I think a blended-learning program that is open, inclusive, and pedagogically sound – something that helps people teach the culture, mechanics, and citizenship of the Web – is what a Mozilla professional development program should be. Why? Because open.

The NCS has been great to work withimage from

I expect the young people who participate in the NCS Community are amazing as well. The partnership started when one of our Sr Directors, the fantastic Paula Le Dieu, opened a conversation with some folks at the NCS to explain that Mozilla isn’t just a technology company, and the Web is not just a delivery mechanism for content. She talked to them about what it truly means to be part of the Open Community and our values resonated. We were asked if we could teach some of the values and skills around openness and web literacy while overlapping with NCS values around social action, personal responsibility and leadership. Spoiler Alert: Yeah, we totally can and will! I’m truly excited to share what I love about the open source community with the NCS Digital Champions, while helping them level up their social and technical skills. I’m excited to hear their ideas, push them to think bigger, and introduce them to the support networks on the web. I’m excited to learn from them. As an educator, I view the goals of this partnership (and future partnerships centered on Training) as being less about specific skills and more about big brained theories of education that say things like “You are educated when you can confidently and empathetically participate in society and the world.

The Digital Champions will help us grow

Last year, the Training Days graduates and the Teach the Web participants ran hundreds and hundreds of events, spreading Webmaker and digital skills. Our community's honesty, participation and drive has made Webmaker what it is today. The 42 NCS Digital Champions are committing to running their own Maker Parties later this year. They’re also committing to spreading web literacy within their local communities and among their peers in the NCS community. We’ll be inviting them to become mentors within our online training initiatives. In May, we’ll be inviting any and every one to participate in an online learning experience that will help you teach the web and become part of the open community. I’m hoping that this weekend seeds enough interest for the NCS Digital Champions to want to play around with the new and improved Training content and discussion platform*.

It's going to be fun!

People who know me, know that I don't really get invested in things that don't entertain me. One of the reasons I love teaching is because I think it’s fun. It's fun to watch people learn, see what people make, share ideas and talk about stuff. I even think it’s fun to watch myself fail at relating to people. It’s fun to learn about myself, other people, the world, technology…Our agenda has random, fun activities (ahem) that are designed to get people moving, thinking and growing. I’m enthusiastic about what I do, and enthusiasm is contagious. So, yeah, it’s going to be fun for everyone involved. All of this means more people will become web literate, more people will spread openness, more people will champion the values we have. *If YOU’RE interested in helping made the online components of Webmaker Training better, help us test them!
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April 08, 2014 10:42 AM

April 04, 2014

Matt Thompson

How do we do better product testing in Q2?

We’ve been trying to figure this out for Webmaker. Here’s a proposal:

Let’s make it easy for people to test whatever the hell they want, all the time.

What’s missing / wrong? Please comment here.

April 04, 2014 09:42 PM

5 easy ways to support Mozilla

Mozilla Love

What’s the best way to support Mozilla right now?

5 simple suggestions:

  1. Tweet some love using #mozlove or #standwithmozilla
  2. Use the “MozLove” avatar. You can download it here:
  3. Download Firefox. Or encourage others to switch
  4. Make a donation. Mozilla is a non-profit community dedicated to protecting the open web.
  5. Get more involved with Mozilla’s non-profit mission.

April 04, 2014 07:59 PM

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [34]

What’s up, badgers?

We could make a terrible (and belated) April fools’ joke here about badges being gone forever…..but that would be just cruel.

We’re not going anywhere, and neither are badges! Just in case anyone doubts us - here’s what’s been going on this week:

What a great week for badges! We hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll see you next week.

Tweet us at @OpenBadges or #openbadges with your badge news, updates and stories - we love hearing about your badgeriffic adventures!

April 04, 2014 06:21 PM

Geoffrey MacDougall

The Day After: Thoughtful, angry, and hopeful posts about Mozilla

The order they’re listed isn’t relevant. The posts are nuanced; I’ve just captured a small part. I encourage you to read them all and will keep adding throughout the day. And you can find more on Planet Mozilla.

“We fully support Mozilla, their mission, and trying to build back up the bridges that got torn down. We know many people are going to be upset by Eich stepping down, and some of them might send out a lot of hate. This has been a traumatic time for us, and we hope to never have to post anything about this again. We are software developers and we’d much rather spend our time building great software and helping people than being involved in a horrible mess like this.” – Hampton Catlin

“Our biggest problem is that the world does not know the story of Mozilla. Especially as a progressive at Mozilla, it was hard to watch as people who should know better pulled out the Chick-Fil-A playbook.” – Ben Moskowitz

“One of the parts that is hard about this situation for Mozilla is that we don’t know where to draw the line now. People are worried that this is now a slippery slope, or that anyone could be pushed out because of outside views. I think as a community we need to accept the truth that Brendan wasn’t a viable CEO and figure out where this leaves the lines.” – Kensie

“I’m a supporter of traditional marriage, and I work for Mozilla. … Many people who agree with me on this issue are very upset about what happened to Brendan Eich, our co-founder and, for two weeks, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation. … I am assured by sources I trust that Brendan decided to leave of his own accord – he was not forced out. My understanding is that the senior management of Mozilla (many of whom disagree with him on this issue) worked very hard to support him, even if I would not agree with all the actions they took in doing so. However, he eventually felt that it was impossible for him to focus on leading if he was spending all of his time dealing with the continued, relentless news and social media storm surrounding the donation he made. In other words, he wasn’t forced out from the inside – he was dragged out from the outside.” – Gervase Markham

“Brendan’s choice of what propositions and political parties to support do not match my personal choices and I’m sad when any restrictions affect only one group of people. But at the same time, in a democracy, people must be able to support and express their values. And hopefully, in the best of worlds, that leads to a good discussion and greater understanding.” – Robert Nyman

“Instead of addressing the issues at hand, he very clearly dodged them. I’m really not sure why and I’m at a loss to even speculate. Every one of my friends said that while they didn’t agree with his position, if he just apologized it could have been the end of it.” – TofuMatt

“On one hand, I disagree with Brendan’s personal views and think that his choice to step down is going to be ultimately good for us. … On the other hand, Brendan has always been a strong, (seemingly) just technical leader at Mozilla and I can’t help but feel that he was railroaded out, which isn’t right and also goes against what Mozilla stands for, in my eyes.” – Lizzilla

“Supporting Prop 8 is beyond the pale. But I don’t fully agree with the tactics that some of my friends have used in order to make that point. IMHO, rather than spending our energy attacking Brendan Eich and Firefox (which affected the entire Mozilla community) we should have devoted ourselves to supporting our friends within the Mozilla community as they grappled (many of them publicly) with the biggest crisis they’d ever encountered.” – Josh Levy

“Even as Brendan announced his departure, he provided next steps to advancing the mission by reaffirming Mozilla’s focus on users. The direction he provided could put the non-profit Mozilla as a users union leader to push back the bullying aspects of the Internet that prey on individuals (think of privacy policies or terms of services) and instead flip that around to be pro-user.” – edilee

“Wanted: New CEO for Mozilla. Qualifications: No history of being wrong, ever.” – Brandon Savage

“If we have to learn anything from the past 10 days, it is that we can only survive as a community if we interpret this mission only in its most narrow scope, where can and should find common ground. Attempting to read the Manifesto in the widest possible manner and presuming to find that all of our fellow Mozillians have done so in the same way is the road to failure as a group and a community. Our cultural differences are immense and things which we find self-evident can be unimaginable to other. We should group among the narrow set of goals that unites us, not among what divides us.” – Garf

What has Brendan done? Many things intrinsic to the open web; he helped shape technologies used by countless numbers of users, including to write and read this very post. Also, a hurtful and divisive thing based on a conviction now at odds with the law of the land, and at odds with my own conviction…” – aruner

“[Eich] did not understand that in order to be a CEO of a company, you have to renounce your heresy! There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell.” – Andrew Sullivan

“As a volunteer moderating the Facebook page, it was evident that we had many users complaining and very little supporters. Now that Brendan has resigned, everybody has all of a sudden come out from a shadow. Unexpectedly to say at the least, is that we’ve got users telling us that we were no longer protecting Freedom of speech and that rights are taken away. Where have these people been hiding?” – Andrew Truong

“It takes courage to face adversity in society, and that’s not a virtue I possess much of. Though I’ve come to value difference. Though at the same time, its important not to see valuing difference vs. valuing similarity as a dichotomy where you have to choose only one. We’re all similar in so many ways and sometimes, the difference is small.” – Chris Crews

“…what happened during the last days seems to be a negation of democracy. One should be able to express legal opinions without having to face a witch-hunt-like repression.” – Daniel Glazman

“Brendan Eich is one of the most inspiring humans that I have ever met. He is a true hero for many of us. He invented a programming language that is the heart and soul of the most open communications system the world has ever known… It’s important to remember that all heroes are also human. They struggle. And they often have flaws. Brendan’s biggest flaw, IMHO, was his inability to connect and empathize with people.” – Mark Surman

“If you tried, I don’t think you could engineer a situation that could throw the Mozilla community so thoroughly off-center. A lot of folks at Mozilla work here because we want to do what’s right. Doing the right thing can be hard, but overall we’re comfortable with taking on hardship to do the right thing.” – Dave Camp

“Follow the Mozilla mission on your own terms, because you know it’s the right thing to do. Do the right thing because it is the right thing.” – Ben Adida

“When the outrage was how a person with a different belief and – to me – very doubtful political action got made CEO people ganged up on Mozilla, my colleagues and friends and me how that could happen and how we can allow that. This was unfair.” – Christian Heilmann

“When suddenly the life my wife and I have built together seemed under any kind of threat, the monument of our public commitment to each other was the main thing to hold on to. Very often, critics of the notion of same-sex marriage seem to feel it can be reduced to something empty, as though symbolism carries no weight.  As though legal constructs around civil partnerships, common law marriages, tax codes, inheritance rights and so forth suffice.  All of that misses what’s important.” – Patrick Finch

“Because bringing diverse people with opposing views together, and asking them to fight for just what they agree on while looking past what they don’t, is how movements are built, and how they succeed. Period. Not how some of them succeed, it’s how all of them succeed.” – Ryan Merkley

“Soon, we were in the midst of a crisis, with the voices of reason so overwhelmed by outright nonsense that they couldn’t be heard. Several of us tried. We failed. Brendan, overwhelmed by the waves of negative press and outright hate mail he was getting, gave up and resigned. The mob won, and Mozilla lost its founding father.” – Sheppy

One of the things that is most painful to me about this is the sheer volume of misinformation out there. We all know that people are wrong on the internet all the time. It is probably hopeless to fight that, but for the record, these are the facts as I understand them, along with my interpretation of those facts.” – David Flanagan

Filed under: Mozilla

April 04, 2014 04:12 PM

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 2, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, April 2, 2014:


Speaker: Carla Casilli

This week we were scheduled to hear from Vanessa Gennarelli about her work at P2PU with peer assessment, but unfortunately, she was not able to make this week’s call. You can read more about her work here:

We were fortunate to have Carla on the call, taking us on a deep dive into her work developing a foundational badge system design, which she has written about prolifically on her blog, which is a great one to bookmark if you are interested in badge research and system design:

The 3 Part Badge System

Over the past few years, many conversations have centered around badges and rigor – organizations are concerned about maintaining their public brand (and identity) which can sometimes limit the development of badge systems within those organizations. These are issues Carla had to address to help develop Mozilla’s 3 Part Badge System, nicknamed the 3PBS.

Much of Carla’s work into the 3PBS came out of her work developing the Mozilla-wide badge system, where there is both an all-encompassing voice, or brand, as well as a variety of teams within the organization that each have nuanced brands and voices. In developing Mozilla-wide badges, Carla was aware that these teams need badges which accurately reflect their own communities without being overshadowed by the organization-level badges.

To achieve this, Carla developed a badge system in three parts (details copied from Carla’s blog post):

To further explain these, let’s return to Carla’s blog post. Check out the call notes for the full conversation.

To read the original post on Carla’s blog, click here.


Introducing the 3 Part Badge System

This badge structure is the one that I developed for the Mozilla badge system that we are in the process of building. I’m calling it the 3 Part Badge System (3PBS). It’s composed of three interlocking parts and those three parts create a flexible structure that ensures feedback loops and allows the system to grow and evolve. Or breathe. And by breathe, I mean it allows the system to flex and bow as badges are added to it.

While some community member organizations have expressed a desire for a strict, locked-down, top-down badge system to—in their words—guarantee rigor (and you already know my thoughts on this), this system supports that request but is also designed to include active participation and badge creation from the bottom up. I’d say it’s the best of both worlds but then I’d be leaving out the middle-out capacity of this system. So in reality, it’s the best of all possible worlds.

This approach is a vote for interculturalism—or the intermingling and appreciation of cultures—in badge systems. Its strength arises from the continuous periodic review of all of the badges, in particular the team / product badges as well as the individual / community badges.

Don’t tell me, show me

It’s easier to talk about this system with some visuals so I’ve designed some to help explain it. Here is the basic 3 part structure: Part 1) company / organization badges; Part 2) team / product badges; and Part 3) individual / community badges. This approach avoids a monocultural hegemony.

Carla Casilli's 3 part badge system design

The basic components of the 3 Part Badge System

How the three different parts influence one another in the 3 Part Badge System

How do these parts interact? In order to communicate how these subsystems can affect each other, I’ve created some color based graphics. You’ve already seen the first one above that describes the initial system.

But first a little basic color theory to ground our understanding of how these subsystems work together to create a dynamic and powerful system. The basic 3 part structure graphic above uses what are known as primary colors, from the Red, Yellow, Blue color model. Centuries of art are based on these three colors in this color model. The following graphics further explore the RYB color model and move us into the world of secondary colors. Secondary colors result from the mixing of two primary colors: mixing red and yellow results in orange; mixing yellow and blue results in green; mixing blue and red results in purple. Now that we’ve established how the color theory used here works, we can see how the parts represented by these colors  indicate intermixing and integration of badges.

Individual / community badges influence team / product badges

The 3PBS concept relies on badge development occurring at the individual and community level. By permitting and even encouraging community and individual level badging, the system can will continuously reform itself, adjusting badges upward in importance in the system. That’s not to say that any part of this system is superior to another, merely that these parts operate in different ways to different audiences. As I wrote in my last post, meaning is highly subjective and context-specific.

individual / community badges influencing team / product badges

Individual / community badges influencing the team / product badges in 3PBS

This graphic illustrates the team / product created and owned badges assimilating some badges from the individual / community created and owned badges. The graphic also indicates that the company / organization badges can be held separate from this influence—if so desired.

Periodic review by the team / product groups of the individual and community badges likely will reveal patterns of use and creation. These patterns are important data points worth examining closely. Through them the larger community reveals its values and aspirations. Consequently, a team or product group may choose to integrate certain individual / community badges into their own badge offerings. In this way a badge begins to operate as a recognized form of social currency, albeit a more specific or formalized currency. The result of this influencing nature? The team and product group badge subsystem refreshes itself by assimilating new areas of interest pulled directly from the larger, more comprehensive and possibly external community.

Team / product badges badges influence company / organization badges

Company and organization level badges operate in precisely the same way, although the advisory group who is responsible for this level of badge can look across both the team / product badges as well as the individual / community badges. That experience will look something like this in practice.


Team / product badges influencing company / organization badges in 3PBS

Periodic review of the team / product badges by the advisory group responsible for company and organization badges may reveal duplicates as well as patterns. Discussion between the advisory group and the teams responsible for those badges may indicate that a single standard badge is appropriate. Considering that teams and product group badges are created independently by those groups, apparent duplication among teams may not necessarily be a bad thing: context is all important in the development and earning of badges. That said, examination and hybridization of some badges from the team and product groups may create a stronger, more coherent set of company and organization level badges.

Individual / community badges influence company / organization badges

In addition to being able to examine and consider team and product level badges, the advisory group responsible for the company / organization badges can also find direct inspiration from individual and community created badges. Since there are few to no rules that govern the creation of the individual / community created and owned badges, insightful, dramatic, and wildly creative badges can occur at this level. Because they come through entirely unfiltered, those sorts of badges are precisely the type to encourage rethinking of the entirety of the 3PBS.


Individual / community badges influencing company / organization badges in 3PBS

Here we see how the individual / community created and owned badges can significantly color the company / organization badges. Since the company / organization badges communicate universal values, it’s vital that those values remain valid and meaningful. Incorporating fresh thinking arising from individual and community badges can help to ensure that remains true.

Three parts, one whole

So, if we loop back to the original system, prior to the (color) interactions of one part to another, we can see how each part might ultimately influence one another. This is the big picture to share with interested parties who are curious as to how this might work.

The 3PBS model with different types of influence.

The 3PBS model with different types of influence.


Badge Alliance Working Group on Research

We are in the process of developing a working group focused on research which Sheryl Grant has kindly agreed to chair. This work will kick off in a few weeks. More about this a bit later in our call.

If you are interested in joining the working group mailing list, please reach out to Carla at

To express interest in the other initial Badge Alliance working groups, fill out the form at

April 04, 2014 10:21 AM

Ben Moskowitz

Mozilla Is Not Chick-Fil-A

In 2012 the southern fried chicken restaurant Chick-Fil-A became the unlikely battlefield for marriage equality in America. Through a strange turn of events, same-sex marriage advocates and opponents converged on Chick-Fil-A franchises across the country. People lined up to buy chicken sandwiches in solidarity or to stage a boycott.

One thing’s for sure. If you eat at Chick-Fil-A, your money will support anti-gay causes. So if the long march of progress makes a fast food drive-thru a site of civic participation, well, that’s surreal—but it’s democracy in action.

This evening draws the conclusion of 11 disheartening days at Mozilla: the brief tenure of its co-founder as CEO. So why am I thinking about chicken sandwiches?

Eich is one of maybe a dozen living individuals who can claim to have built the open web. In 15 years of working at Mozilla, Eich never let his personal beliefs color his work. He and others grew Mozilla from a hobby into a world changing social movement. And, incredibly, they did it in a completely apolitical way.

But Eich as CEO was symbolic to a lot of people. It’s why people like Hampton Catlin and his husband, co-owners of a web development firm, took a stand. They and others called for Eich to apologize for funding the Prop 8 campaign or to step down. (I have complete respect for Hampton and have enjoyed several very constructive conversations with him over the past two weeks.)

The crisis that emerged over this issue was partially self-inflicted. We failed to manage the crisis. And a lot of our own people acted badly—from the top on down. We acknowledge this:

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

At the same time, gestures from OKCupid and others show that our biggest problem is that the world does not know the story of Mozilla. Especially as a progressive at Mozilla, it was hard to watch as people who should know better pulled out the Chick-Fil-A playbook.

Contrast Chick-Fil-A with Mozilla. The Atlanta-based company has donated upwards of $5 million dollars to PACs opposed to same-sex marriage, and the company’s chief operating officer is on record that same-sex marriage advocates were “inviting God’s judgement on the nation.” Mozilla is a collective of happy mutants who want to make the world better, whose original logo was designed by Shepherd Fairey.

Mozilla was never Chick-Fil-A. A user’s decision to use Firefox would never fund anti-gay causes. The first reason is that we’re not a profit-seeking organization. The second reason is that we would never fund anti-gay causes!

We watched this week as Mozilla, a global non-profit and volunteer community making a free product to benefit humanity, was stained with the taint of homophobia, retrograde opinions, and hate.

It was an expensive moral panic. And though I am heartened that people like Andrew Sullivan feel the same:

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

…it’s still our fault. This was a critical test of our ability to tell our story, and we failed.

To many of the people who drew incorrect conclusions about Mozilla and our character, we might as well be selling chicken sandwiches.

What do we do from here? Mozilla needs to do a better job of explaining how we’re different. We need to play to our strengths—community, disruptive innovation, doing things in unconventional ways. Even in this storm, you could see some of those silver linings.

Mozilla needs to re-embrace the core of who we are and where we came from. In our products, in our initiatives, in our leadership. Let’s take on big challenges and pick fights again. Let’s not be like the other guys, and make sure the world knows it.

The great irony of all this is that Brendan Eich would have been the best person to return to us to these roots.

For the record, I don’t believe Brendan Eich is a bigot. He’s stubborn, not hateful. He has an opinion. It’s certainly not my opinion, but it was the opinion of 52% of people who voted on Prop 8 just six years ago, and the world is changing fast.

Most of this is ambiguous. Some of it is painful. I am equally disappointed in Mozillians and in demagogues who didn’t see the irony in hounding someone for their private opinion because of “intolerance.”

But one thing is clear: we need to treat all good people with respect and dignity, regardless of who they are or what they believe. I am glad now that the world will have a chance to know our character. And I am grateful to Brendan Eich for all that he’s done for the open web. I hope that in time he will find a way to return to the project and provide the technical leadership that Mozilla, and the world, so greatly needs.

April 04, 2014 12:49 AM

April 03, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Community Call, April 2, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, April 2, 2014:



This week we heard some updates from an exciting - and expanding - badge system at Madison Area Tech College, and kicked off a conversation about LRMI and badges.

Badges for non-credit learning

Kate Radionoff joined us in September 2013 after Madison Area Tech College (MATC) announced it would be launching digital open badges for their continuing education and non-credit professional development courses. This week, she returned with her colleague Leslie Voigt, the instructional designer behind MATC’s badge system, to take a deep dive into the work they’ve been doing and share some lessons learned along the way.

At MATC Kate was trying to shift focus away from seat time towards more meaningful assessment methods with non-credit learning. When she began exploring the potential of open badges, she began designing a way to integrate badgeable assessments into the existing non-credit learning experiences at MATC.

Around the same time, Pearson was preparing to launch their Acclaim platform and were looking for beta testers. After struggling to find a platform that worked within the school’s restrictions on open source code, the MATC system began using Acclaim, transitioning existing badges over to the new platform and adding new ones as students earned them. As of January 2014, the system is fully functional, badges and all.

As they move forward, they are looking to expand their badge system to a network of colleges using badges, including Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD, and Harper Community College in Palatine, IL. Within MATC, the goal is for all professional development courses to be badged, to build industry partnerships, and continue in their efforts to inform and educate employers on the potential uses and value of badges.

Kate and her team recognized from an early stage the clear importance of alternative credentials and building learning pathways to translate non-formal learning into accredited recognition of learning. To help her design the MATC badge system, Kate enlisted the expertise of Leslie Voigt, who walked the group through the system and outlined the process badge earners go through in order to showcase their non-credit learning achievements.

Their badge system is in the process of expanding to include new classes, so they are focused on defining which classes will be badged – and how – including defining assessments and detailing learning outcomes to be aimed for. There are 120 badges to be rolled out this summer, encompassing multiple assessments within 25-30 new classes not currently part of the system.

Other features to be built out in the coming months are sharing badges to public profiles, expanding their network of colleges, and accessing data on the badges. As Leslie told the group: “people want to see numbers” – that means generating reports on the number of badges awarded, accepted, and published. They also hope to begin analyzing what badge earners are doing with their badges: what opportunities are the badges helping make accessible? Are employers valuing the badges? What learning or career pathways are their badges supporting?

Lessons learned

Kate outlined a number of lessons she learned throughout the process of designing and implementing the MATC badge system:

To read more about the MATC badge system, check out

To view or download Kate’s slides, click here.

LRMI and badges

Phil Barker recently pointed to the possibilities for connecting badges to LRMI (Learning Resource Metadata Initiative) in the Community Google Group, and joined this week’s call to kick off that conversation with the assembled call attendees.

Phil and his colleague Lorna Campbell both work with the Centre for Educational Technology, Interoperability and Standards (CETIS) on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) which is funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Creative Commons and the American Association of Publishers. The platform is and the goal of this platform is to help identify different tagged attributes for resources on the web, from authorship to content.

The key feature that Phil sees as a potential link to badges is the alignment object, which indicates how a learning resource aligns to educational frameworks (e.g. identifying the structure of the Web Literacy Map and aligning resources to those components.) Phil and Lorna suggest it would be useful to align the Mozilla Alignment object with the LRMI Alignment object by drawing a connection between what both are addressing. LRMI is concerned with learning materials, and open badges are concerned with how to recognize learning. Phil asks: how can we accentuate the similarities?

LRMI tagging makes it possible for digital (learning) resources to show up in search engine results - it’s about discoverability of content. Extending that discoverability to types of badges available to be earned, tied to that content or to other existing standards, could be an interesting avenue to explore.

To read the discussion notes on LRMI and badges from the Community Call, click here

Phil wrote about his experience on the Community Call on his blog: read it here.

To continue the discussion, head over to the Open Badges Google Group:


April 03, 2014 11:49 PM

#openbadgesMOOC — Session 8: Introducing Mozilla BadgeKit [an FAQ of sorts]

Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials
Session Session 8: Introducing Mozilla BadgeKit
Session Recording:

This week on the #openbadgesMOOC, New Currency for Professional Credentials, Sunny Lee walked through Mozilla BadgeKit, the new set of open, foundational tools to support the entire badging process currently available in private beta for select partners developing badges for their communities. You can view Sunny’s slides here.

As many of our community members have already read, seen or listened to many different presentations introducing BadgeKit, we will take this opportunity to address some more frequently asked questions that we didn’t get to in our BadgeKit announcement.

What is BadgeKit?

BadgeKit is a set of open, foundational tools to make the badging process easy. It includes tools to support the entire process, including badge design, creation, assessment and issuing, remixable badge templates, milestone badges to support leveling up, and much more. The tools are open source and have common interfaces to make  it easy to build additional tools or customizations on top of the  standard core, or to plug in other tools or systems.

BadgeKit  builds on existing technologies that have evolved out of several years of work and user testing, including Chicago Summer of Learning. In fact, specific tools within BadgeKit are currently being used for key partners within the badges ecosystem (i.e. Connected Educators.)

Mozilla BadgeKit is now available in private beta for select partner  organizations that  meet specific technical requirements. And anyone can  download the code  from GitHub and implement it on their own servers. 


BadgeKit is open source, so improvements made by community members benefit everyone, from bug fixes to new features and more. It is also easily extendable, working seamlessly with other open tools and systems as they emerge.

Why BadgeKit?

While open badges technology has been gaining momentum - with more than 2,000 organizations issuing badges that align with the Open Badges system - there are still ways we can make it easier for organizations to join the ecosystem.

Today, there are too many gaps in the badging experience and many of the existing options are too closed, too expensive or too big. In fact, given the current options for organizations interested in issuing badges, it can be harder to make an open badge than a closed badge!

What tools does BadgeKit include?

BadgeKit  provides modular and open options (standards) for the community of badge makers to use and build upon within their existing sites or systems. Currently, BadgeKit supports key points in the badging experience, including:

  • Design: A tool for defining all of the metadata, including criteria pages, and finalizing visual design for each badge.
  1. Templates: Visual and metadata designs that can be remixed by anyone creating a badge.
  2. Milestones: The ability to have a group of badges level up to a larger, more significant badge.
  • Assess: A tool for mentor or peer assessment that includes issuer defining rubrics and criteria for a  badge, the ability for learners to apply for a  badge by adding information and evidence, as well as access for  assessors to manage applications and enable review and scoring.
  • Issue: A tool for awarding badges to learners and hosting assertions to enable badges to be pushed to Backpacks.
  • Collect: A “Backpack” for collecting badges across various experiences or organizations. 

Throughout 2014, we will be adding additional tools to BadgeKit, including: 

  • Discover: A directory of available badges with features for searching, filtering, wish listing and endorsing badges.
  • Share: A tool to enable easy sharing of badge on various sites across the web (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.).
  • Collect: Backpacks will become “federated”, meaning that different instances still plug into the broader ecosystem and can share data across.

How can I use BadgeKit?

Mozilla BadgeKit is now available in private beta for select partner  organizations that meet specific technical requirements. And anyone can  download the code from GitHub and implement it on their own servers. 

SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE: At, you’ll be able to access BadgeKit: a hosted version of the tools to build out badges, remix badge templates, create badge levels, issue badges, etc. APIs will make it easy to then pull the badges and end user  interfaces into your own website. All of the backend pieces are hosted, supported and updated by Mozilla, and you’ll have complete control over the experience of your end users through your own sites.

DOWNLOAD: Easily download the code from  and install the tools on your own server. 

What’s the difference between downloading the code from Github and using the private beta version of BadgeKit?

In downloading the BadgeKit code, you will be in charge of the backend and hosting of BadgeKit, and will be able to customize and extend the tools as much as needed.

For the private beta version of BadgeKit, all the backend pieces are hosted, supported and updated by  Mozilla, while you still have complete control over the experience of your end users on your own sites through our APIs.

Is BadgeKit available now?

Yes - Mozilla BadgeKit is available in private beta for select partner organizations that meet specific technical requirements. Visit to learn more and apply for private beta access.

And BadgeKit code is currently available on Github, with additional features set to be added in the coming months. To download the tools, visit Github:

How can I sign up for BadgeKit?

Mozilla BadgeKit is available in private beta for select partner organizations that meet specific technical requirements. 

To apply for private beta access, visit Given your organization meets the specific hosted version requirements, you will receive a follow-up email with full details on how to get started. 

What are the technical requirements for the hosted version of BadgeKit?

The technical requirements necessary for private beta access to the hosted version of BadgeKit are:

  • You have a front end website or have resources to develop one
  • You have technical resources on staff to integrate the BadgeKit APIs into your experience
  • You intend to build or roll out a badge system for your community and organization in 2014

How are you selecting partners for the private beta?

Right  now we’re making that decision based on each organization’s technical resources and capacity. But by the end of 2014, the hosted version will be available to any organization looking to implement a badging system! 

Who is BadgeKit for?

BadgeKit is currently in private beta and can be used by any issuing organization that meets specific technical requirements. It is aimed at organizations that  are building full badge systems and want to leverage their own sites and  systems on the front end, as well as have access to technology  resources. Tool providers might also be interested in leveraging BadgeKit to extend their own tools, or build additional customizations on top of BadgeKit.

I am a middle school teacher looking to issue badges. Can I use BadgeKit?

Not yet. Today, BadgeKit is currently in private beta and meant for organizations that have access to technology resources and are looking to implement a full badge system. We are exploring ways to create a lighter weight version of BadgeKit that could be used by individuals, and hope to have it ready later this year. In the meantime check out the additional community driven issuing platforms at to help you get started. 

I want to issue a badge to a large group of people at one time. Is that possible?

Not yet - but we’re working on it! You can track progress in Github here:

I need help. Is there someone that can help me?

We have a variety of ways we can help. You can simply select the option that best meets your needs:

You can download a printable version of this FAQ to share with your communities, and Sunny’s slides from the live session are available here.


April 03, 2014 08:11 AM

April 01, 2014

Doug Belshaw

Why I still believe in badges [DMLcentral]

My latest post for DMLcentral is up. Entitled Why I still believe in badges, it’s a response to a comment by a Philosophy professor (who will remain anonymous) that Open Badges are merely a way that for-profit companies can get a slice of the action in Higher Education.

A quotation from the article:

While badges could, potentially, be used for nefarious purposes, it’s my belief that the open, distributed architecture of the code and community means that we can seek to improve our education both inside and outside the walls of institutions. This is not about ‘disrupting’ education for the sake of it or for private profit. This is about providing another way of doing things to promote human flourishing.

You can read the whole thing at DMLcentral. Please do comment over there (I’ve closed comments here).

April 01, 2014 09:20 AM

March 31, 2014

Chris McAvoy

More Context on Brendan Eich’s Appointment as CEO

It goes without saying that Mozilla is an open organization, they promote the open web, promote open source software, and advocate for open learning, open journalism, and even have a pretty badass manifesto. Given the enormous number of companies involved in the badging ecosphere, (see above) who do you want to develop the plumbing that keeps all this together? A company that sees every eyeball as a dollar sign? Or a foundation built on the principals of open source?

I wrote the above soon after joining Mozilla. I still agree with it. Mozilla is the best community I’ve ever been a part of. I care deeply for it. On Thursday, March 27th, almost exactly two years after I wrote the above – and a short time after participating in a Mozilla Foundation discussion about the appointment of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla, I tweeted:

The wording of the tweet was provocative. “I am an employee of @mozilla” makes it clear that my voice in this situation has more power and more responsibility than a non-employee. I chose that wording. I wanted to be clear and unequivocal. Other wording was just as intentional. I didn’t ask Brendan to resign, I asked him to step down as CEO. I didn’t demand, I asked.

When Brendan was announced as CEO, my hope was that he would explain himself, maybe apologize or recant his actions of 2008. Six years is a long time; maybe now he understood the larger context of Proposition 8 and its terrible effect on thousands of Californians. Instead, he was wholly unprepared to speak about the issue. We waited, being told he would write a blog post that would clear things up. The post came, but was underwhelming, and he neither apologized nor offered an explanation for the donation.

In the meantime, Christie Koelher wrote an amazing post explaining that though she disagreed with Eich on the subject of same-sex marriage, she trusted him, and the organization, to not let his personal views cause harm to Mozilla employees. Fundamentally, I agree with Christie – it would be impossible for Brendan to discriminate within Mozilla; he wouldn’t be allowed to exercise his personal views of same-sex marriage in a way that discriminates against employees. There are plenty of checks, both within Mozilla and legally that would protect employees from Brendan’s personal views.

I didn’t ask for Brendan to step down because I was worried he’d discriminate against those in his reporting chain. If that was the case, I would have asked in 2012 when this story originally broke (just a few short weeks after I joined the organization).

So why tweet at all? This morning, Mark Surman, one of the key people who make me proud to be a Mozillian, wrote “I worry that Mozilla is in a tough spot now. I worry that we do a bad job of explaining ourselves, that people are angry and don’t know who we are or where we stand. And, I worry that in the time it takes to work this through and explain ourselves the things I love about Mozilla will be deeply damaged. And I suspect others do to.” I agree with him, we as Mozilla are in a tough spot now. So again – why did I tweet? Why risk damaging a community I love so much? I want to be absolutely clear: I never meant to hurt this community, everything I’ve done has come from a place of love, love for this organization, love for the community it built, and most importantly, love for the people who make it possible.

This very public debate about Brendan’s appointment points to a divide in Mozilla’s identity, which I’d characterize as Mozilla as tech company versus Mozilla as activist organization, which is the fundamental reason why I believe the Brendan Eich that contributed to Prop 8 isn’t the CEO that Mozilla needs. Our power as an organization comes from our ability to assert technology as activism. Webmaker, Open Badges, Web Literacy, a smart phone that puts the web in every hand, the protection of privacy and identity in the face of attacks from every corner.

Mozilla is a leading organization in the fight for an open web. That’s well established. Less known is Mozilla’s role in open education, open journalism open research / science and web literacy. An open web is a tool to empower individuals. To paraphrase Woody Guthrie’s guitar, “This [internet] machine kills fascists.” That’s the open web we’re fighting for, a machine that ends human suffering, a machine that won’t let a government stop our sons and daughters from loving who they choose. An open web not tied to a mission like essential human freedom and empowerment is an empty web.

Our manifesto is vague on this point, “The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet.” We promote the health of the internet, but never make the bigger connection to the health of humanity. We interact with organizations who accept that goal, but take it one step further, their goals aren’t just the health of the Internet, their goals are the health of humankind, of the planet, of our place in history.

Mark once quoted Mitchell as describing projects as rockets. A rocket is a thing, but in every rocket, there’s a payload. The payload can be anything, a belief that the web should be open, that open source is a fundamentally different paradigm of work. Paraphrasing, “a rocket without a payload isn’t worth anything.” The payload of Mozilla is human freedom through technological empowerment. Those are my words, my interpretation of the Manifesto, but I can’t imagine anyone in the organization, even Brendan, disagreeing with them.

In a blog post yesterday, we go beyond the Manifesto and state, “Mozilla’s mission is to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just. This is why Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally.” Maybe Brendan can lead us on that path by showing how a person can change, as an example of how a community can change.

The Brendan that contributed money to Prop 8 (and also invented Javascript) is the right CEO for a tech company that makes a web browser. We’re more than that. We have a payload. It’s an open web, yes – but it needs to expand to include a fundamental belief in the right of all humankind to live their lives to the fullest extent of their potential. We don’t just make tools, we change lives. The Internet is the ultimate potential amplification machine, let’s make sure that Mozilla is at the forefront of innovation, both technological and social, for the century to come.

March 31, 2014 02:41 AM

March 28, 2014

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [33]

What a week it’s been at Mozilla. We are so lucky to be part of such a varied and supportive working community - especially on the badges team (though we might be biased!)

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

Badges have had some shout-outs in the wider world this week too:

It’s been a long week: go and enjoy your weekend, relax, dance, sing, read, sleep - find your happy places - and we’ll see what Monday brings!

March 28, 2014 11:04 PM

Research & Badge System Design Call: March 26, 2014

Research & Badge System Design Call: March 26, 2014:


Speaker: Verena Roberts

Verena Roberts spent the last six months working on a final project for her Masters in Educational Technology Degree with the University of British Columbia. Much of her work investigated integrating formal and informal learning and how to develop learning pathways for m101, a pilot course in mobile learning at UBC. Open badges plays an important role in the research and proposal suggestions, which can be found on her blog.

To see Verena’s presentation document, click here.

How to create a credible currency around informal learning?

This question was at the heart of Verena’s work, and her presentation to the research call attendees. Originally, Verena was more interested in exploring MOOCs in K-12 rather than higher education, and developed a MOOC for K-12 with the help of Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0 and Web 2.0 Labs, which was based on digital citizenship. At the end of the course, she created a badge that students could choose to apply for, but many of her students felt better “learning for the sake of learning,” saying the badge option put more pressure on them - so she removed the badge from the course.

This process led Verena to think about what learning was all about - wanting to capture learning that happens anywhere, to engage more students, and focus on open learning. Verena was asked by Hargadon how to create a credible currency for informal learning, a concept that fascinated her and spurred her into her more recent work.

The term ‘currency’ is inherently linked to value, and so led Verena to the question: what was the value associated with this work? What makes open learning important?

Verena carried out a literature review focusing on a “hybrid pedagogy” drawing on her experience in K-12 and looking at flexible, open learning programs. From this, she then looked at how to create potential badge types for competencies that could form a common currency for informal learning.

Questions Verena addressed included:

  • How do we measure learning anywhere and anytime?
  • How can we ensure that out of school learning get recognized and appreciated?
  • Will teachers value informal learning? How can we help them value it?
When examining ways to track informal learning, she “became obsessed with learning pathways” and inevitably began to track and examine her own learning pathway - an “autoethnography" of her own learning experiences.

Badge what you don’t have

Verena’s research dug into what competency-based learning (CBL) means, which wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Within the US, the idea of CBL has only recently begun to gain more clarity and traction in the public dialogue, and outside of the US there are very different ideas about how particular competencies are defined. The differences between Europe and the US were especially confusing, but led her to an important conclusion: that, overall, “competencies may have many definitions, meanings, interpretations, and perceptions.”

Ultimately, Verena says, competency-based learning and badges won’t be about what you know but about what you do with that knowledge. That means framing badge criteria based on skills but also behaviors and competencies that are needed.

One of the first questions many are asked when they start looking into badges as a way to track and recognize learning is, "what do you badge?" Verena’s answer was one that intrigued a number of us: "You badge what you don’t have." This means using badges to recognize learning that is occurring beyond the formal learning environments, which is already represented by a certification or diploma, etc.

Verena created different badge 'types' and 'levels' for the m101 mobile learning course as a result of her work, going through numerous iterations of badges and competency frameworks (see page three).

Conclusions & next steps

Badges are part of an emerging pedagogy.” This was Verena’s overall conclusion that she took from her in-depth work exploring competencies, pathways and badges. 

To see how badges were perceived, Verena spoke to industry leaders and communities about their thoughts on badges to determine whether they could be taken seriously in the contexts she was exploring. The most common questions she was asked were about trust, credibility and representation - leading to the question at the beginning of this post: how can a common language, and currency, around informal learning be fostered that imparts value onto badges that is recognized across sectors by those who ‘count’?

Visit Verena’s blog for more information and ongoing updates on her incredible work:

Verena’s work is an important part of the growing body of exploratory research into some of the issues we have been tackling in these calls. The newly formed Badge Alliance will continue to address this and other key issues facing the badging ecosystem - and you can help!

The Badge Alliance is currently in the process of developing a working group focused on research. They are looking for cabinet members and a chairperson to help guide this work, which will kick off in a few weeks. If you are interested, get in touch with Carla at

March 28, 2014 09:09 PM

Community Call, March 26, 2014

Community Call, March 26, 2014:



This week we opened up an important discussion around how to strengthen and expand the badging ecosystem through increased knowledge-sharing and platforms for communities to come together and learn from the experiences of others.

Let’s keep talking

In a recent blog post, Barry made a call to action - or rather, a call to conversation:

"If we advancing digital badging systems want to solve the major challenges before us — badging networks that link learning organizations to each other and to career and academic opportunities; badge system designs that can offer different value to different youth; comprehensive, elegant and flexible tools; and more — we need to start painting the full picture. Let’s welcome newcomers to this important project not by asking them to rebuild the wheel but to learn with us through public and honest self-reflective practices."

In his own badging explorations, and those of others he has worked with and spoken to, he found that many who are starting out with badges seem to come up against the same obstacles, and wonders if there is a way to avoid or diminish these blocks by sharing more about what we know, how we got there, and lessons learned along the way.

In 2008, Barry was working  at Global Kids on a project to help youth develop metacognitive skills, for which they would earn badges. He has since worked with the first Hive network, in New York, and now works on digital learning programs for youth through the American Museum of Natural History. 

In each of these endeavors Barry has worked with badging programs, and has heard the same struggles many times. In participating in badging initiatives, he has observed that much of the dialogue has been split, with the positives of badging being presented publicly - and often in response to a general set of concerns, whether actual or perceived. On the other hand, the problems faced by those building badges were often discussed internally rather than shared publicly. As a result, new badging initiatives came across the same problems again and again because they hadn’t been told about previous experiences in their entirety.

A connected issue Barry is concerned with is the limitations of badge value in the current ecosystem, young and disconnected as it is at times: while many badges may have ‘local’ value within the issuing organization and its immediate community, Barry wants badges to gain more ‘global’ value and inter-connectivity, echoed in our own goals for the ecosystem.

The Badge Alliance

The issues raised in this call are some of the biggest reasons the Badge Alliance was created. Meg, the Director of Marketing + Operations at the Alliance, shared this with the group: “[C]ollectively, as a community, we can start tackling some of these issues and make progress through working together,” adding that simply raising these issues won’t solve them - we have to “put [our] heads together and offer insights, start to roadmap ways to solve them.”

The initial Badge Alliance working groups have been formed and members have been recruited from across numerous sectors and continents to focus community efforts on the key questions and issues facing the open badges ecosystem, as Jade, the Alliance’s Social Media + Community Manager, shared in a recent blog post detailing some of the changes the Alliance will bring.

One of these groups will focus on messaging - how we talk about badges to different audiences - and others will focus on building broader, deeper, stronger badge systems around the world, for educators, cities, the workforce and others. Another will build our research base, drawing on the great work of others to strengthen the connections between those working the hardest to help this movement progress.

Efforts such as the badge Design Principle Documentation Project at Indiana University are digging into the challenges facing those who are developing badge systems and passing on lessons learned. Our own case studies echo many of the same themes, challenges and lessons, as do other groups working internationally to build badge systems - including HASTAC in the US, Jisc in Scotland and many others in higher education., informal learning, and the workforce.

Many voices, many choices

Even from that short list, it is clear there are a myriad environments badges can be deployed, from international networks to niche communities - each with their own goals, needs, limitations and discoveries to share.

We have created a number of spaces for those exploring open badges to share their trials and successes:

We also have a number of active social media channels that are monitored daily and can be a source of news, updates, answers, and resources:

We even have spaces for the technical among us to explore new ideas, report issues and collaborate to make the open badging ecosystem stronger from the inside out:

Of course, if anyone has questions about anything badges-related at any time, it’s easy to send us an email at - someone from the team will get in touch, usually within 24 hours.

Share your stories!

We are hugely community-driven at Mozilla, and the Open Badges project is no different. We work in the open, and encourage others to do so if it suits them. If you, your organization or someone you are connected to is developing a badge system and isn’t sure of their next steps - or even their first steps - it is almost a guarantee that someone in our vibrant global community has been there before and can offer guidance. Our Community Google Group is the fastest way to connect with them, as is our Twitter feed, including the hashtag #openbadges.

To reflect back on Barry’s words from his blog post - "let’s welcome newcomers to this important project not by asking them to rebuild the wheel but to learn with us" - it is important to all of us that the lessons we learn can benefit not just our own projects, but our collective goals to build a robust ecosystem representative of the great work being done by its earliest pioneers. If we can do that better, we will. If you have ideas, let us know!

One last thing … We’ve made this call many times, but here is another great opportunity for us to repeat it: if you have implemented an open badge system in your organization, we want to hear from you! Our first set of case studies were published last month in time for the Summit to Reconnect Learning, but we’d love to get more of these experiences written down for our community. Fill out this form to share your initial details and we’ll be in touch to set up a time to follow-up with a call.

March 28, 2014 06:36 PM

Geoffrey MacDougall

What’s Happening Inside Mozilla

Is not a conversation about inclusion. That was settled long ago. And Mozilla, unlike many organizations, treats our mission and our guidelines as sacred texts.

It’s also not a conversation about quality of life and the culture of the workplace. I’ll let my colleagues speak for themselves.

So if it’s not about the applied and the tangible, it’s about the symbolic and the intangible.

Our conversation is about rights.

Specifically, two rights: Equality and Free Speech. And which one this is.

The free speech argument is that we have no right to force anyone to think anything. We have no right to prevent people from pursuing their lives based on their beliefs. That what matters is their actions. And as long as they act in the best interests of the mission, as long as they don’t impose their beliefs on those around them, they are welcome.

The equality argument is that this isn’t a matter of speech. That believing that 1/n of us aren’t entitled to the same rights as the rest of us isn’t a ‘belief’. That the right to speech is only truly universal if everyone is equal, first.

Both sides are well represented inside Mozilla. Often by the same, conflicted people.

Our current situation is forcing us to choose between them.

And that sucks more than most of us can express in words. And we’re desperately trying to find a path forward that doesn’t wreck this beautiful thing we’ve built.

Filed under: Mozilla

March 28, 2014 05:13 PM

Matt Thompson

Open when it matters: please help Mozilla

Best tweet I saw yesterday

Mozilla needs your love and help right now. More than just a debate about our CEO, this threatens to divide us in other ways if we let it. We need dialogue, and to bring open hearts and minds around the two crucial issues here — both of which are meaty and substantive and vitally important to Mozilla:

This is hard. It deserves to be treated that way. Many of us feel very strongly about either or both of these issues — and so it requires nuanced, Mozilla-style reasoning that weighs both sides to find a solution.

That’s why I’m so proud of thoughtful, emotionally complex posts from colleagues working this through in the open. Like this, or this. And disappointed by stories like this one.

If you believe in (2), as I do, I think we’re served by demonstrating patience and compassion here. The difference between marriage equality as a right versus a matter of political or personal opinion is nuanced, historically recent, and culturally complex for a global community like Mozilla’s. And it’s on us to demonstrate that we understand and show respect for (1) as well, and not skip it over casually. For a lot of people, it’s at the heart of the Mozilla project.

Our ability to work this through — together in the open, with open hearts and minds — is even more important than any decision about our CEO. It will determine our strength once all this is done.

March 28, 2014 04:29 PM

March 26, 2014

Open Badges blog

Lucas Blair | Tell Us Your Story

Lucas Blair, an educational game designer and badge curriculum superstar, has been working with Chloe Varelidi, Mike Larsson and others to drive the Open Badges Discovery project. The project team recently joined us for a Community Call in which they gave an overview of their process and findings thus far.

Below is a guest post from Lucas that takes us through the interview process and how people’s stories become their learning pathways.

Follow Lucas on Twitter: @LucasBlair


Tell us your story

Collecting real stories and turning them into pathways has been an important part of the Open Badges Discovery project. The stories allow us to test our designs against real use cases and some will even launch with the tool as examples. In this blog post I will share the process that we use and some tips to get the most out of your pathway interviews. Keep in mind that this process is written in a blog, not in stone. Like everything that comes out of Mozilla, you are encouraged mix it up or discard it entirely for a process that you like better. If you do find a better way, please share it with us and the community.

Pathways are stories. Sometimes those stories come from issuers that would like to see specific skills in their applicants or others who want to help their current employees grow. Some stories come from earners recalling the experiences that got them to where they are now. Other tales are aspirational, like those of students who set goals with their pathways, by identifying badges that they want to earn some day. No matter who is telling the story, to effectively capture it you have to ask the right questions when the interviewee needs your help and get out of the way when they don’t.

The Process

We decided to make a distinction very early in the process between issuers and earners because they have different needs and will have different stories. Issuers create pathway templates that make suggestions about the the types of badges they would like to see. Earners complete the pathway templates with the badges they have earned and fill free spaces with unearned badges that are goals. The good news is that the interview process is the same, just from different angles. For example you ask an issuer “what skills do you want to see?” and you ask an earner “What badges have you earned?” For both questions, as an interviewer, you are trying to identify badgeable moments.

After introductions I start interviews off by defining what badges and pathways are. Remember that what we are building is still relatively new to most people. I say something like:

I take some notes up front so I can easily identify the interview later. Typically things like name, current occupation, and a determination of whether the person in an issuer or an earner. For the last part what you are really asking is are you capturing someone’s story or are you trying to determine what they look for in a candidate (hiring or admissions for example). Then it is time to dive in. Ask interviewees to start from the beginning. Take notes as they speak and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat a section, add detail to a section, or redirect them if they get off track. Do not feel like you have to identify all of the badgeable moments during the interview. There will be plenty of time afterwards to turn your notes into badges and pathways.

Using the badge types

Over the course of our interviews a few badge “types” or groupings have emerged. The groupings are used during the interview process to make sure we don’t miss any important details. Before you begin interviewing, going through the list of the badge types may help your interviewee tell their story and will make the interviewers job of identifying “badgeable moments” easier.

Don’t be content working only in the past tense. When an interview ends always ask them “what’s next?” This will make them think about their goals and give you an idea of the trajectory of their pathway.

Using the pathway types

Stories have a shape and as you listen to someone’s pathway story you should be able to fit them into one of, or a combination of, our pathway types. These pathway types, just like the badge types, have changed during the course of the project. You don’t have to identify the pathway type during the interview but if you are able to, it can help you guide the conversation.


Hands-on interviewing

It is time to break out the post-it notes! If you have the opportunity to do interviews in-person, paper prototyping pathways is a great way to capture a story. You will start by explaining badges and pathways. Then give the interviewee post-it notes, a marker, and a flat surface. During the prototyping sessions you can ask for additional information like having them draw connections between different badges or arrows to show prerequisites. These sessions are also great for asking things like “If you could leave the past version of yourself a message along this pathway what would it be” great for capturing mentoring moments.

I just want to end by saying that almost every person that I have interviewed for this project has begun our conversation with some variation of the phrase “Just so you know my pathway is pretty unique”. I have to say that so far they have all been right and that has been one of the biggest takeaways for me during this project. Every person has a great story, an important need, and some inspiring goals if we just take the time to listen and create tools that make their stories come to life.

March 26, 2014 02:23 PM

Erin Knight | Truth in Tagline

Read the original post here.


When we decided to soft launch the Badge Alliance at the Summit to Reconnect Learning, my Communications Director had about 5 days notice to pull everything together. She did, of course, pull everything together as she always does, but there was definitely some throwing ‘good enough for now’ words up on a site at the last minute. As we are starting to more formally kick off some branding work, we went back to the tagline we used. While it might not be where we end up, there was and is a lot of truth in those words, and there are layers that really get to the heart of what we’re trying to do (and I suppose, what we’re now on the hook for doing!)

The Badge Alliance is “a network of organizations working together to build and advance an open badging ecosystem”

Let’s break that down a bit…

"The Badge Alliance is a network of organizations…"

The Badge Alliance is made up of organizations that want to work on these issues together, want badges to succeed, believe in a similar vision. These organizations (and in some cases, individuals) are volunteering to contribute to working groups, to roll up their sleeves and do the work necessary to move the badging work forward. They are the lifeblood of the Alliance, and of the ecosystem we are building.

After a relatively low profile soft launch, we already have close to 300 organizations that have not only expressed interest in the Badge Alliance, but have signed up to participate in at least one working group. In many cases, they have signed up for several. The initial response has blown me away and I am more convinced than ever that the Alliance is so important and timely.

"…working together…"

One of the reasons we have created the Badge Alliance is that this work is so much bigger than any individual organization. It’s going to take a village. It’s going to take an ecosystem. That means non-profits, tech providers, agencies, institutions, schools, corporations, foundations have a role to play. It’s only through connection and collaboration across these organizations and sectors, that we will make significant progress for learners and workers across their lifetimes.

As I mentioned before, we’re pretty serious about the collaboration part. So much so that the Badge Alliance is completely built around working groups. All of the work is/will be done through working groups. All of the key issues are tackled through working groups. Most of our job will be to facilitate, recruit for and shepherd working groups. Working groups, working groups, working groups! We’re all probably going to start getting so sick of hearing those words, we’ll have to make up some others. Constellations! Action teams! Etc. But for now, working groups.

It’s a super exciting approach with lots of potential. We’ve already got a really healthy mix of organizations that seem energized and ready to dig in. But its also a little scary. I’ve always been of the ‘if it needs doing, I’ll just do it" mentality, but now our role will to wrangle, recruit and ultimately rely on lots of different players to move the ball forward. Again, together is the only way we succeed. We’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying to create some guidelines and process to create a layer of accountability and confidence in working group outcomes, which we’ll share in the next week or so, but really these are working theories. This is going to be a constant work in progress, with payoffs so much bigger than any of us could accomplish on our own.

"…to build and advance…" (Or "…to build and grow…")

This is a pretty heavy piece. Building and advancing. What does that mean? Where do we start? What does success or advancement or sufficient growth look like? One deliverable that we are on the hook for, with our Steering Committee, is an initial definition of umbrella goals, strategy and metrics for the badge ecosystem, that we will then vet with the broader network. This will help to provide a larger context for all of your work, while also connecting work across the ecosystem, highlighting gaps or new opportunities to put some attention into and giving us all way to determine if we are winning.

But we don’t need that, and frankly, can’t wait for that to keep the momentum going. Each of you can probably list a few things that you think are needed to advance the broader badge work, or maybe even your own badge systems. Issues that need tackling, hurdles that are in the way, use cases you need to see, questions you need answered…I guarantee if you all did write them down, there would be a lot of overlap. And I can also guarantee that we’ve probably been talking about many of them since very early on. So let’s stop talking and dig in. That’s the purpose of a working group. Let’s pick one of these key issues and work together on it. Let’s set concrete goals and divide and conquer.

With our soft launch of the Badge Alliance, we tried to capture what to us felt like some of the most critical issues/topics through the initial working groups:

This initial set of working groups isn’t comprehensive, of course, but reflects where we and the broader community sense some the biggest urgency or heat. It’s a healthy mix of driving adoption on the issuing side, while also really starting to dig in on the ‘consumption’ or currency side of the ecosystem as well. We already have begun to identify a fast follow set of working groups that will most likely include things like research, validation (although this one is too big for one working group), K12/schools (also too big), pathways and privacy/data.

(you can still participate in these working groups - visit to sign up. You can also suggest additional topics/working groups you think should be represented).

"…an open badging ecosystem…"

Oh you thought the last part was heavy? Wait for this one! :)

An open badging ecosystem. I could write several blog posts on the meaning/importance of that phrase, probably at least one post on each one of those words (the one on “an” would be a page turner ;)).

But while we *could* (and I am sure at some point *will*) get existential and philosophical, this doesn’t have to be that complex. If we agree that ultimately this is about recognizing and connecting learning of many (and of more) kinds across contexts and across lifetimes, and leveraging that recognition to better connect people to jobs, additional learning, personal growth, advancement, social connections and more, then there are some pretty obvious and important lines in the sand, but only a few. Two actually.

1) Badges must be interoperable. In this case, that means badges must align with the open standard, which is the ‘information model’ for badges.

2) Earners must own their badges and have control over where they are stored, how they are shared, etc.

That’s it really. If we all agree on those two points, then we have the makings for a healthy ecosystem. If badges are interoperable, then they are stackable, we can ensure we have enough information for making sense of them and we can always build tools and processes on top of them to better issue, manage, understand, etc. And if earners are in control, then badges cannot get ‘stuck’ in a silo and we can continually build in more connections and opportunities for that badge earner. The work doesn’t stop with these two ‘principles’, but these are the minimum required to ensure that the ecosystem can grow up around the badges in a way that places the learner at the center.

We haven’t gotten so far as to finalize a manifesto or formalize any requirements for membership, but I can’t imagine these two NOT being in there in some shape or form. We’ll be co-creating these types of things with our Steering Committee and Alliance members, so obviously much more to come here.

So…we didn’t do so bad with our first tagline. There’s a lot in here, maybe some of it is controversial. Certainly some of it I intend to dive into much more deeply in subsequent blog posts. But don’t wait for that - I’m definitely interested in getting feedback and hearing more from you on these somewhat rambling thoughts. Where do you agree? Where do you disagree? What are other working group priorities? What does open ecosystem mean to you? What other names for working groups should we use? :) This is a pretty critical juncture in the Badge Alliance and the overall work so now’s the time to weigh in!

And don’t forget, another way to get involved is to participate in one or more of the working groups. You can sign up on the site

Much more soon.


March 26, 2014 01:58 PM

Jade Forester | Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes!

Read the original post here.


We knew that the soft launch of the Badge Alliance at February’s Summit to Reconnect Learning would bring some exciting new changes to the Open Badges team at Mozilla.

Since Erin Knight’s announcement at the Summit, the initial Badge Alliance working groups have been formed and members have been recruited from across numerous sectors and continents to focus community efforts on the key questions and issues facing the open badges ecosystem, working together to keep us moving forward. We anticipate the official launch of the Alliance in June 2014, and there will be plenty to keep us busy between now and then!

In addition to Erin’s transition from the Senior Director of Learning + Badges at Mozilla to Executive Director of the Badge Alliance, there are some other exciting changes we can share with you:

As you might imagine, with these changes comes a lot of loose ends to gather and tie up before the Badge Alliance fully launches in June.

Megan and Carla have already joined Erin full-time at the Alliance and are doing a stellar job of helping the transition go smoothly as we hit the ground running with setting up the initial working groups and reaching out to potential partners and group members.

My new role, for now, won’t include too many changes. My day-to-day workload will stay the same for the next few months, leading the Open Badges community calls and filling the social media feeds, as well as helping to build the Badge Alliance community before the official launch.

On the Open Badges side, Product Lead Sunny Lee and Partnership + Policy Lead An-Me Chung will be stepping up to the plate to lead the Open Badges team moving forward, working closely with engineer extraordinaire Chris McAvoy and design guru Jess Klein to drive the product in future evolutions.

All these transitions and changes will progress throughout 2014 as we gear up to the Badge Alliance’s public launch this summer and the next phase of product roll-outs from Mozilla, including new features and functionality within BadgeKit, as well as the Discovery and Directory tools.

So stay tuned to our blogs and Twitter feeds as we solidify our new roles within both the Badge Alliance and the Open Badges team - there is lots more to come from all of us!



Individuals and organizations interested in joining the Badge Alliance and contributing to the efforts of the working groups can visit

For questions about the Badge Alliance working groups, please email Megan directly at

For any questions about Mozilla Open Badges or related products, please email

March 26, 2014 01:56 PM

March 25, 2014

Matt Thompson

The scrum never stops: building an open workbench for Webmaker

As we head into Q2, let’s build a better “workbench” and online scrum board for Webmaker.

TLDR version:

Why are we doing this?

This is all a work in progress

The Webmaker Wiki: a scrum that never stops

Everybody loved the last Webmaker work week. Why? Because:

  1. We broke the project into key tracks. Webmaker is a complex product. You need to carve it up in smart ways to tackle and make sense of it.
  2. We sorted our roles and leadership for each track. Prepping for the work week forced us to get our RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) together for each track, and attack fuzziness.
  3. We worked well across teams. Dividing things up into smart functional components (like “Engagement Ladder”) forced us to work across teams, instead of sticking in our little org chart boxes. This drives a holistic view of the product.
  4. We scoped, documented and ticketed well. The prep work we did laid out the groundwork and scope. And because we tied all the work to Bugzilla and shareable online artefacts, it was easier to keep momentum after everyone went home.
  5. The scrum board provided clear visual progress. We moved a huge number of individual tasks across the board, from “to make” to “making” and “made.”

Together, these things sent a larger signal:

All that matters is scoping clear, achievable pieces of work — and then moving them across the line together.

So let’s keep working that way

That worked well — and led to a lot of completed work in Q1. So let’s do it more intentionally as we head into Q2. And build a Webmaker scrum board that never stops!

That’s what your project wiki page should lead with going forward: a scrum board that updates as you go. Along with the handful of key links, context or artifacts your colleagues need to help you push those well-defined tasks to completion.

Laying out Webmaker’s key components

Webmaker is an open source product with a dozen or so key component pieces. The main Webmaker Wiki page is visual and navigational — it lays out these key components. This in itself is useful — think of it as an X-Ray of the projects major bones, muscles and heart. And our key scrum tracks going forward.

In addition, the updated landing page includes links to:

Here’s a rough template to follow for each page:

1) Your scrum board
2) Key links
3) All else

Each component has their own page. Going forward, we’ll strive for each of the pages to follow the same basic template:

  1. Lead with your scrum board. This will provide the most up to date view of what’s happening, right at the top of your page.
  2. Include links to key documentation. It doesn’t have to be perfect — and links are fine. You *don’t* have to duplicate or copy / paste stuff, or wrestle with wiki mark-up, or whatever — just paste in the links. If your page contains *nothing* other than one or two links to wherever you’re documenting or tracking the work, that’s just fine.
  3. All else. Push the static, evergreen copy down the page, or move it to sub-pages. These are production pages — they’re meant for busy people to quickly grok what’s up now. And not public-facing pages that need to be pretty, rhetorical or overly polished.

Who’s all this for?

Who’s the main target audience for this new Webmaker wiki? Builders and production people.

Who are these wiki pages primarily for? The answer: builders. The people planning and building Webmaker on a daily basis. The kind of people who show up to the weekly call. Or colleagues and hardcore contributors who’ve been at this a while, and already have a good level of familiarity with what we’re doing.

This is a bit different. In the past, we’ve used our wiki primarily for contributors, and contributor documentation. We’ve now mostly outgrown that. Our contributor documentation and platforms now live in other, more polished places –  on, on SUMO,  in our updated even guides, new training pages, Git Hub, etc.  That’s a good thing. Contributors shouldn’t have to dig through a wiki to find what they need — we should be serving them in more polished ways on the web.

That frees our wiki to focus on production and co-building. That means: less context and explaining, more diving into the work.

More to come

This post will be the first in a series on “Working Open with Webmaker.” In the mean time, let’s hack and update the new wiki together.

March 25, 2014 07:38 PM

March 21, 2014

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [32]

All right, folks, let’s get you ready for the weekend - because we all know you can’t start your weekend without your roundup of what we’ve been up to with badges!

This week’s Open Badges calls were spectacular! Chloe Varelidi led the Research & Badge System Design Call in a discussion of gamification, game design principles, play, and badges - you can check out a summary and listen to the audio here.

On this week’s Community Call, Mark Otter and Julie Keane joined us to walk us through the global ready education program using badges within VIF International Education. They went into great detail about how they developed their program on the call - you can check out a summary and listen to the audio here.

Here’s the rest of this week’s badge action:

  • Parchment announced they are adding $10m to expand their digital credentialing platform
  • Deeper Learning MOOC badges are here!
  • Soozy Miller at Bright Hub asked the question of whether badges will become the standard for displaying credentials

We also held our final BadgeKit Training Sessions - if you missed them, don’t worry! They can be found on the Open Badges YouTube Channel, and future sessions will be held as we roll out more features throughout 2014.

A million high fives to the team for hosting these sessions!!

Have a good one, you guys.

See you next week!

March 21, 2014 06:03 PM

March 20, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Community Call, March 19, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, March 19, 2014:



VIF International Education, the leading provider of global education programs for K-12 schools, launched their badge system in December 2013. The VIF learning center, a social learning platform featuring the Global Gateway professional development (PD) system for educators, makes it possible for teachers anywhere in the world to earn digital badges as they  learn to effectively integrate global project-based inquiry into their core instruction.

Badges for Global Educators

VIF is in its 27th year, and has served roughly 11,000 teachers from over 75 countries, as well as running approximately 50 dual-language immersion schools in North Carolina - one of three states VIF operates in within the US (the others are South Carolina and Virginia.) There are around 20,000 teachers within the Global Gateway system.

VIF developed what they call ‘global indicators' - things every student should know to become 'globally competent' - which were built collaboratively with participating teachers and reflected similar global competence indicators developed by EdSteps. From these indicators, VIF developed Global Gateway, a professional development and digital curriculum program for teachers of global competence.

In the coming months, VIF will be re-launching as a ‘designation network’ that will distinguish global teachers, school, and districts as teaching global awareness and competence. They currently are using the Global Gateway program within 25 districts, serving 250 global schools and 10,000 teachers.

VIF Learn is the social community component of the global learning program developed by VIF, and is comprised of three elements:

  • Social community (think Facebook) where teachers build profiles and can view an activity feed. They can also join open or closed groups with other teachers
  • Resource Library of VIF and teacher-created lessons and units (including both immersion-school curricula and global standards-based curricula)
  • Badges that can be earned through the creation and deployment of global learning lessons and portfolios of student work

Teachers within the VIF Learn program complete four modules of professional development per year, following a project-based inquiry (PBI) framework - see an example PBI toolkit for teachers. Teachers create lessons based on the global indicators, and then reflect, revise, and give/receive feedback on these lesson plans. When a teacher attaches evidence of implementation in classroom (usually student work products) the lesson plans can then be published into the searchable resource library as remixable templates for others, and also provide the evidence component of a badge for the teacher who created the original lesson.

Global Ready Designation

Within the Global Schools Network, VIF has broken down the global readiness indicators into four tiers (developing, proficient, accomplished, and distinguished) to mark the progress of teachers, schools and districts as they develop curricula. These ‘Global Ready Designation’ tiers reflect the  teachers’ development in three key areas: pedagogy, technology content, and knowledge & skills.

This image outlines what ‘Global Ready Designation’ involves:

Next Steps

The peer-review element of the VIF program is something Julie and Mark are hoping to build out in future iterations, and is something Julie is particularly excited to expand, working closely with officials at the state level to review teachers’ lessons “and develop the criteria necessary for state designation” as well as VIF designation.

The VIF program is so exciting because they are working within existing teaching frameworks in ways that innovate and push teachers and schools to prepare students for the modern, digital, globalized world. Julie eloquently captured the power of badges within a platform such as VIF Learn: Badges can reflect alternative learning pathways for teachers as well as work within existing structures.

  • To read the full discussion, check out the call notes.
  • To view Mark and Julie’s slides, click here.

Next week:

Join us next week, when we will talk about badge ecosystem growth and support with Barry Joseph, who wrote this great blog post on the subject of the strengths of, and his concerns about, badges - and where the ecosystem needs to be stronger. Get your thinking caps on for this one!

March 20, 2014 08:05 PM

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, March 19, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, March 19, 2014:


Speaker: Chloe Varelidi

This week, our resident game design superstar and spokeswoman for playful design, Chloe Varelidi, led the group in a conversation around gamification and play, the principles of game design, and how badges fit into all of the above.

What is a game?

Chloe dared the group to define a game - and as a system, what parts combine to make up a game. Brett Bixler wrote a blog post exploring this question, in which he also defined educational games as a subset within the broader scope of what a game is. Educational games are, according to Bixler, designed for learning with a mix of educational content, fun, and learning principles.

Below are some of the answers the group compiled. A game is/has:

How can badges be part of games?

Of course, we didn’t get very far into a discussion of achievements and progress within games without bring badges into the mix. The group discussed the various roles of badges in games, from marking progress and acting as milestones, to being rewards and recognition of accomplishments or completion of game activities.

According to the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology, there are different types of game players - according to Richard Bartle’s test, “a series of questions and an accompanying scoring formula that classifies players of multiplayer online games into categories based on their gaming preferences.” The four gamer types in Bartle’s test are: achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers. Some in the group argued that badges might appeal to achievers and socializers, a point that has been raised in previous conversations before. 

So this leads to the question of whether personality types affect our approach to games (and how) - and to what degree this affects our learning process, particularly when it comes to gamified learning experiences.

Gamification vs. game-based design?

Gamification as a term (and a concept) has gotten a lot of criticism, both within our community and in the broader learning networks we often hear from. Badges are often assumed to be necessarily about gamification, using badges as game-based motivators for achievements. While this certainly is one use for badges in game-based learning environments, many badge issuers and earners use badges as recognition of progress and feedback, rather than just as trophies to be collected.

Emily pointed out that language is very important - how we talk about these ideas can greatly affect how they are received and implemented.

Some argue that gamification as a term doesn’t feel as scholarly or rigorous, whereas a term like game-inspired feels more so. Another community member shared a telling anecdote: while applying for funding for an internal project in education, a proposal was shunned when the word gamification was used heavily. When the term was exchanged for the phrase engagement engine, the results were very different, and the application was much more warmly received.

Engagement was mentioned a number of times in this week’s discussion - as a better term for fun as well as for gamification. Within games, game-based learning, and badge systems for learning, continuous engagement is the goal - how this is achieved can vary according to the learners, the broader context and environment of the game / system, and the language we use to communicate the goals and components of the system.

To read the discussion in full, check out the call notes while listening to the audio.

March 20, 2014 07:25 PM

Carla Casilli | The Myth of the Lightweight Badge

This blog post from Carla generated a lot of discussion on- and offline: it was retweeted by many members of the community and discussed on this week’s Research & Badge System Design Call.

The ‘lightweight badge’ is something we are asked about a lot on the Open Badges team - many are concerned with so-called ‘worthless’ badges, often holding badges to higher standards than existing credentials. Carla does a great job of exploring these concerns and effectively arguing why all badges can hold value as part of an ongoing identity-building process alongside achievement recognition.

Go to Carla’s blog to read the comments there and post your own.


The development of the open badge ecosystem is at the heart of all of the work that I do. I am deeply invested in ensuring that the ecosystem grows and thrives. During the time I’ve been focused on this work, folks have repeatedly declared deep concern about badge rigor, usually expressed as an underlying fear of the ecosystem-imperiling power of the “lightweight” badge. I’d like for us as a community to investigate and dispel the myth of the meaningless, lightweight badge before it becomes ingrained into the ecosystem as an alleged truth.

First let’s begin by discussing badge types. Certainly there is a lot to be said about proposed and future badge typologies and I’m hoping that we can engage on them here at a later date. For now, though, let’s talk about the much maligned “participation” type badge. Participation badges are typically earned through a simple act of attendance. They usually have no associated criteria aside from physical or virtual attendance. Mozilla has issued MozFest Reveler badges for exactly this type of interaction. Considered by many in the badge community to be throwaway badges with little to no social meaning, in fact participation badges are markers and data points in the larger, more complex concept of self.

Am I who you say I am or am I who I say I am?
During the process of badge system development, implementation, or interpretation, certain types of badges like participation badges may appear to be devoid of much or any value. Let me say that again with emphasis: may appear to be so. They are not. All badges have some value. Badges layer upon each other: no badge is entirely independent of any other badge—at least not to the badge earner. Just as all badges operate in contextual ways, participation badges live alongside other badge types. They can and do interconnect in ways that may be far outside of their issuer’s original intent. This is one of an open badge’s best features—they act as connectors! Perhaps even better, all badges act as touchstones for the earners.

Value accretion
The concept of accretion will be readily understood by the scientists, accountants and financial thinkers among us. Here I’m using it to indicate the continued layering effect of badges being earned throughout a length of time. Earn a badge. Earn a badge. Earn three badges. Earn another badge. Accretion operates on a meta, ecosystem level as well as a smaller system wide level, and its power should not be underestimated. Why? Because the continued layering of earned badges from many different issuing organizations and experiences—the accretion—means that value arises in unexpected and emergent ways.

The multiplication factor
For example, while it may be possible to know how one badge is perceived by its earner in its original context, it is not possible to estimate how three badges from three different organizations may be perceived by an earner. Consequently, that “lightweight” badge that Josefina earned while attending The Museum of Natural History during a class trip may become a connector to an online natural sciences webinar may become a connector to a robotics class held at the local library. Combined, these “lightweight” badges begin to highlight potential pathways and future area of interest.

Weak signals, strong network effects
Interest-driven participation badges communicate in subtler ways than skill or competency badges do but they are sending signals to the earner as well as the larger social structure. They act as windows into alternate interpretations of self. Not only do they work to represent past experiences but also possible future selves. They accumulate and in their accumulation they tell different stories to both the earner as well as the public.

So, the next time you hear someone note a concern about “lightweight” or meaningless badges, think about Tennyson’s “Ulysses” quote below. Ask yourself if you’re not the composite of everything that you have experienced, large and small.

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.

Et voilà. The myth of lightweight badges is dispelled.

More soon.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord. (n.d.) Ulysses. Retrieved from

March 20, 2014 03:51 PM

March 17, 2014

Ben Moskowitz

A Civics Education for Privacy

The Mozilla advocacy and campaign teams are meeting this week to plan a multi-year “privacy, security, surveillance” campaign. We’re searching for an issue where we can make a real impact.

I am pushing for “security” to be tip of our campaign’s spear. Something like “we want to know that our devices, communications, and Internet/web services are secure against compromises and attacks from governments or criminals. We don’t want them to contain any deliberate or known weaknesses or backdoors.” This is the kind of principle that resonates across ideological divides, gets people nodding their heads at the watercooler, and gets the red-meat internet people fired up about backdoors in Microsoft products. No public figure wants to be on record saying “a vulnerable Internet is a good thing.”

Intelligence and defense are pouring enormous resources into making the internet communications of our adversaries more vulnerable, which makes everyone more vulnerable. It’s counterproductive. It’s why Yochai Benkler talks in terms of an autoimmune disease; “the defense system attacking the body politic.” This problem is illustrated in ongoing leaks that suggest agencies are looking to deploy malware at mass scale. “When they deploy malware on systems,” security researcher Mikko Hypponen says, “they potentially create new vulnerabilities in these systems, making them more vulnerable for attacks by third parties.”

This is why I think we should put our energy behind “securing the internet.” We can’t stop spying, but we can affect a state change in internet security.

“How to Act”

But even in a perfectly secure internet, users’ behavior leaves them vulnerable to any number of privacy harms. “Privacy” is not the kind of value that gets codified in software; it takes user awareness and action. So our campaign must be centered on educating users about specific actions they can take to address the problem.

“Privacy” is a collective problem. We need to be the change we want to see.

We need to teach people how to act in an information society. We need young people to understand this part of “citizenship” on the web; how even seemingly passive usage of the web forms a profile, a trail, an exposure.

A “privacy civics” education should be part of every high school curriculum—like home economics or traditional civics.

Mozilla is developing a Web Literacy Map and associated curriculum. Privacy will be the toughest part of this map to teach, because it’s unbelievably abstract. When “Connecting,” for instance, a web literate person should have competencies like:

“Managing the digital footprint of an online persona.”
“Identifying and taking steps to keep important elements of identity private.”

But “digital footprint” “user persona” and even “privacy” are abstractions. To introduce these abstractions, you need stories and metaphors to explain these concepts, to build on the understanding, and ultimately form a consciousness and an understanding of the user’s privacy context in the wider web. For example, we might explain the exposure that a user gets from metadata because “it’s like having a guy parked outside your house with binoculars. He might not know exactly what’s happening inside, but he can take notes and find patterns.”

It’s not hard to imagine worksheets or 2001 era CD-ROMS to use these stories address these competencies. But this is 2014, and we can do way better. We should be able to make this kind of thing less abstract, more tangible, using the web.

A Mozilla-Style Privacy Education? Lessons from MozFest 2013

What does a Mozilla-style privacy education look like? What should it feel like?

Clearly, it should be hands-on, interactive, instructive. We couldn’t teach this stuff in a boring way. When we teach HTML, we invite kids to hack webpages or remix hip-hop videos. Maybe when we teach privacy/security workshops, we should invite kids to be an NSA analyst on their own metadata? Or to perform a man-in-the-middle attack or tailor advertisements to their peers?

I don’t know for sure, but I do know that a Mozilla privacy education should be much cooler than reading a book.

MozFest is a great place to test hypotheses, work with communities, and intuit where we ought to be going. We use MozFest to learn from the open web communities and get smarter.

The 2013 Festival featured a track on privacy and user data. I helped organize with Alex Fowler and Alina Hua. We called it “Look Who’s Watching,” in a nod to the Stop Watching Us coalition. “Look Who’s Watching” suggests an educational complement to that activist project. Internet users should look around, undergo a process of discovery, and better understand how they expose themselves when they use the web. To understand who’s watching your online movements is an essential part of being an informed, empowered user.

The Privacy Track at MozFest 2013 was billed as an opportunity to “shape a full response to modern privacy problems.” These problems include but are not limited to behavioral targeting, information leakage, data correlation and generic attacks to privacy, location and mobility tracking, profiling and data mining, surveillance, and good old fashioned oversharing.

Lots of privacy educators showed up with their own theories of change. Each has strengths, weaknesses, and pedagogical baggage. Let’s take stock of a few:


Lightbeam shows how third-party cookies enable a web of tracking

The highest profile public education initiative that Mozilla has done to date is Lightbeam, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation.

Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that visualizes how you’re affected by third-party commercial tracking. As you browse, Lightbeam reveals how third-party cookies paint a picture of your online activity, and how that’s not transparent to the average user.

We have billed this as being explicitly educational, but we don’t yet have a theory of how Lightbeam should be presented in workshop setting. Getting Lightbeam workshops in place throughout the Webmaker network is seriously low-hanging fruit.

However, Lightbeam is sort of stuck in time, and will cease being valuable when the ad titans move away from cookies and toward fingerprinting. It’s overly mechanical. More importantly, it doesn’t get to the deeper problems implied by this knowledge graph falling into the wrong hands.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m a huge fan of Lightbeam. It’s individualized and interactive, and illustrates a specific problem. But it’s not yet the kind of integrated, interactive, innovative privacy education that we need.

Trace My Data Shadow?

Me and My Shadow offers a way to measure the invisible and abstract

The more latent, scary stuff is hard to measure (or explain). At MozFest, we were fortunate to have Becky Kazansky representing Tactical Tech, who have created resources like “Security-in-a-Box” and “Me and My Shadow.”

Me and My Shadow is a well-designed curriculum that gets to the meatiest problems in privacy: how your data shadow can be used against you.

A lot of people conflate the loss of privacy with oversharing on social networks. But smart people know the problem is not what you purposefully put into social media—it’s the data trail that you (unavoidably) generate as a web user. includes a set of tools to measure your data shadow. Once you’ve measured your shadow, it points to ways to “explore your traces,” “resize your shadow,” and ultimately “turn the tables.”

Shadow Tracers Kit

“Teaching privacy” involves helping people develop a mental model of mechanics of the web. Understand exposure and trust. Develop transactional intelligence about their data. In a perfect world this would be about leveling everyone up,  informing a smarter conversation and smarter usage at all levels—ultimately reaching policymakers. My Shadow is getting a little closer to the sweet spot, but it’s a little too fragmented. It’s not yet cohesive or well-integrated with a campaign. Maybe we can help.


There's a cryptoparty in your neighborhood

CRYPTOPARTIES are about people understanding the consequences of their own behaviors and adjusting. Around the world, small groups of people attend teach-ins where they learn skills in small groups: PGP encryption, Tor anonymous browsing, OTR secure communications. To me it seems a little hard to make this mainstream—though Cory Doctorow probably has ideas about how to make this cool. The bigger problem is that anonymization is not necessarily the change we want to see—it sets up a frame where there are privacy-haves who justifiably wear tin foil hats, and privacy-have-nots who think that they’re weird.

But there’s a big opportunity to more systematically bring privacy teaching, learning and crypto-parties into the Webmaker network.

Privacy Drama?

Take This Lollipop makes it personal

Privacy drama is about take invisible, abstract problems and make them immediate in personalized narratives. You could imagine a documentary that uses your data and APIs to demonstrate how you would be subject to price discrimination, for instance. We brainstormed a list at MozFest, and there are interactive proofs-of-concept, like Take This Lollipop (which spins a privacy scare narrative from your Facebook data) and the privacy documentary side-project of Mozilla’s own Brett Gaylor.

I’ll be expanding on some of these ideas in a talk to the Tribeca Film Institute in April. Will do a post later on.

Hands-on computer science education?

Immersion will enable you to analyze your email metadata, the way an NSA analyst would

Another approach suggests that the best way to understand security vulnerabilities is to “do it yourself,” having a visceral hands-on experience.

At MozFest, we had a session that taught participants to use Wireshark to perform a man-in-the-middle attack on their own mobile phones. Participants learned this basic interception technique to reveal how the mobile apps they use are ‘phoning home’ — enabling mobile tracking without consent. But after performing this exercise, participants should understand the risks of having their traffic intercepted, and will probably want to see that HTTPS is active before ever typing a password.

Another team from MIT (the Immersion project) set out to explode the myth that user metadata is “just metadata”:

What can someone learn from what you write on your “virtual envelopes”? After an introduction to the MIT Immersion tool, you’ll perform a metadata analysis of your own inbox. Participants will gain insights about surveillance of metadata through some simple coding exercises (Python) if you have Gmail, try Immersion here.

After performing a metadata analysis of your own inbox, a facilitator can ask leading questions like: “Is that female with whom you communicated the most in 2012 your girlfriend? I see you didn’t communicate at all in 2013—did you break up?” Having a personal experience like this will show that patterns and content can be inferred from metadata, and that such power can be exploited by advertisers and law enforcement.

What now?

On display are varying pedagogical theories. They can all co-exist. But how should Mozilla concentrate efforts?

I am convinced that we need an answer, and to lead a “privacy civics education” for the world.

No Mozilla campaign would be complete without mobilizing users to take direct action on this very collective problem.

March 17, 2014 09:57 PM

March 14, 2014

Geoffrey MacDougall

Mozilla Foundation’s CRM Plans

During our planning for 2014, a need that came up over and over again was for better data tracking across the board. This included managing our contributor targets, engagement funnels, campaigns, partners, etc.

We decided we needed a CRM. And ‘CRM’ quickly became a dumping ground for a huge wish list of features and unmet needs.

Since then, a small group has been working to figure out what we actually need, whether it’s the same thing that other Mozilla teams need, and which of us is going to do the work to put those systems in place.

Adam Lofting, Andrea Wood, and I have come up with a framework we’re going to pursue. It splits ‘CRM’ into three functions and proposes a path forward on each. We feel this represents the best use of our resources, lets us hit our priorities, and ensures that we continue to work under a ‘One Mozilla’ model.

1.) Partner Management

2.) Campaign Management

3.) Contributor Management

Does this sound right? Are there things missing? Please ask in the comments.

Filed under: Mozilla

March 14, 2014 08:36 PM

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [31]

Happy Pi Day, everyone!

Last week we were busy running around at two separate conferences, releasing BadgeKit and prototyping the Discovery project. This week, we had the chance to sit down, breathe, and get back into a normal routine.

This week’s Research & Badge System Design Call took a deeper look at BuzzMath’s Common Core badges, and their Creative Director JP Choinière joined us to share updates from their developing badge program. For a full summary and a link to the audio download, click here.

After an exciting demonstration at DML, the Discovery team joined us for the Community Call this week to take us through their research, design, content and technical process. It was great to get such a detailed look at the work this team is doing to build the Discovery and Directory tools that are going to help so many people access badges. For a full summary and a link to the audio download, click here.

What else have we gotten up to?

We’ve also been hosting BadgeKit Training Webinars all week, and there are two more live sessions scheduled for next week - check out the schedule and register here. If you can’t wait, or can’t make it to a live session, we have recorded the sessions. Here is the video from yesterday’s tutorial:

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone - and remember, there’s no such thing as too much pi(e):


March 14, 2014 07:31 PM

Hive NYC

The Three Tiers of Hive

This is the second in a series of blog posts where Mozilla’s Senior Director of the Webmaker Community details plans for a global network of Hive activity. The first post is here.

Over the last two years MacArthur and Mozilla have grown Hive NYC and Hive Chicago, helped on-board Hive Pittsburgh and Hive Toronto and responded to a growing chorus of communities eager to incorporate Hive values, ideas and platforms, or as we have dubbed it, “Hivey-ness.” As a result, we’ve developed a three-tiered engagement ladder,  outlining ways to contribute to Hive as well as the path towards creating and sustaining a Hive Learning Network.


Tier 1: Hive Learning Events

These are learning gatherings that bring network practice and connected learning principles to life for an inter-generational audience. Examples include Pop-Ups, Hack Jams, media production sessions, Maker Faires and other events. We brand these events in two ways:

Participating educators get to both contribute to and observe what it’s like to see youth self-direct their learning and design their own experience in a networked space. Often the question, “Why Hive?” is better answered after seeing a Pop-Up in action: adults see youth interacting and learning with peers, remix and re-interpret their programs, become part of the energy in the room, and perhaps most importantly, see youth travel from different activities/interactions guiding their own path through the controlled chaos. We have distilled the Hive Pop-Up into a Webmaker Teaching Kit and this video details the Brooklyn Public Library Storymakers Maker Party/Hive Pop-Up.


Recently the Hive Research Lab has been studying Hive Events (Pop-Ups, Hack Jams and Maker Parties) through the lens of their two primary research areas: how Hive can foster Youth Interest-Driven Pathways and how it can act as effective infrastructure for Networked Innovation. Based on early fieldwork, Hive Research Lab has come up with design suggestions for how educators can more effectively use these events to reach these goals, ones that relate to outcomes for whole networks, member organizations and network-affiliated youth.

These events have been catalysts in helping new Hive communities emerge and we’ll share some specific examples in an upcoming post.

Tier 2: Hive Learning Communities (HLC)

Hive Learning Communities begin to use the connected learning principles and the practices of Hive to operationalize a learning network. They draw heavily from the experience of existing Hive Learning Networks whose leaders function as consultants and mentors sharing information about structure, program design and strategy. Local facilitators then adapt tools, practices, frameworks to their local contexts. They are free to self-identify themselves as Hive and use the branding assets and developmental resources that are openly networked.

Specific characteristics could Include:

The Hive concept has really developed into a grassroots movement with Hive Learning Communities forming around the globe. Current examples include Hive India, Hive Bay Area, Hive Berlin and others.

Tier 3: Hive Learning Networks (HLN)

Hive Learning Networks are city-wide vehicles for implementing and spreading connected learning ideas, tools, practices and values. These networks are fully operationalized with a staff, sources of funding, ways to seed innovation projects and a system for convening its membership. They accept the responsibility to be engaged in the stewardship of Hive Global. New Hive Learning Networks will be admitted through a review process of the Hive Global stewarding body, MacArthur, Mozilla and a panel of independent stakeholders.

The minimum requirements for Hive Learning Networks are:

Specific characteristics of the networks include:

From our experience consulting and participating in nascent communities, we know the components of successful Hives share common categories and characteristics. We recently circulated a collaborative document to surface a common set of self-emergent values, and here are just a few:

We are currently working in the open towards the better articulation, operation and adaptation of these three tiers as a strategy to establish Hive practices as a key driver of the spread and scale of connected learning. We’ll continue to share more plans, details and resources in the coming weeks, and we’re also interested in your feedback. If you’re already working towards building a Hive in your community, or have been considering it, we’d love to know what resonates with you, or what questions you have regarding information we’ve shared so far or even specific details to help you get started. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly via email.

The post The Three Tiers of Hive appeared first on Hive NYC.

March 14, 2014 05:22 PM

Open Badges blog

YALSA [An Open Badges Case Study]

YALSA [An Open Badges Case Study]:

In the spring of 2012, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA) that supports library services for teens, was awarded funding to develop a badge system to recognize, improve, and enhance the skills of library staff working with teens as part of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition.

The YALSA badge program helps library staff develop skills related to the Competencies for Serving Youth in Libraries, which YALSA developed for librarians who serve young adults.

YALSA’s badge system creators Linda Braun and Nicole Gibby Munguia wanted a valuable way to recognize the work library staff are doing and encourage them to demonstrate their achievements to colleagues and employers.

We are thrilled to include YALSA in our initial set of working case studies that we published last month. Click the link above to read more!

The Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition was administered by HASTAC with support from the MacArthur Foundation, and in partnership with Mozilla.

March 14, 2014 03:33 PM

Open Badges is Taking Over (the YALSA Twitter Account)

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has turned over its @YALSA Twitter account to a different partner each day of this week, and we’re super excited to be taking part all day today!

As part of Teen Tech Week, different partners have taken this opportunity to inform and engage YALSA’s 22,000+ Twitter followers about relevant issues from their perspectives as well as share resources of interest to YALSA’s audience.

On Monday, Make It @ Your Library (@MakeItLib) took over, followed by the Urban Library Council (@UrbanLibCouncil and @Learning_Labs_)on Tuesday. Wednesday saw Best Buy’s Geek Squad (@GeekSquad) take the reins, and then on Thursday tweets came from the Office for Information Technology Policy (@ala_oitp), which helps secure information technology policies for the ALA.

And today it’s our turn!

Follow @YALSA today to see tweets from us, and scroll back through the week to see tweets on various topics, including connected learning, makerspaces, practical tips for using digital tools, technology policies, and of course badges.

YALSA developed a badge system to recognize, improve, and enhance the skills of library staff working with teens. We were thrilled to include them in our initial case studies published last month. Read more about YALSA’s badges here:

About Teen Tech Week:

Teen Tech Week is a national celebration that offers libraries the chance to highlight all of the digital tools, resources and services they offer to teens and their families.  It will be celebrated with the theme “DIY @ your library.”  To learn more about Teen Tech Week, visit, or check out #TTW14 on Twitter.

About YALSA:

For more than 50 years, YALSA has worked to build the capacity of libraries and librarians to engage, serve and empower teens.  For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: For more information on YALSA’s badge system, go to and check out this article from the School Library Journal.

March 14, 2014 03:17 PM

Doug Belshaw

Does Open Education and the Open Web need ‘defending’?

Over in the Mozilla Webmaker Google+ community it’s the final day of our online discussion as part of Open Education Week. Today’s prompt asks: Do we need to protect the Open Web and Open Education? If so, who or what from? How do we do that?

My short answer to this would be yes we do need to protect Open Education and the Open Web. We need to protect them from commercial, proprietary providers looking to profit from creating silos. How do we do that? I’d argue by innovating in ways that are different from those looking to make a quick buck.

It’s obvious, but worth stating: I’ve no problem with people charging for services. The issue is more to do with the overall landscape. If all you’ve got is shiny silos from which to choose, it’s a frustrating pseudo-choice. Openness proposes and provides a different way to do things than following the logic of the market.

The problem is that ‘Open’ is an ambiguous term and seems to have become the latest fad. Martin Weller points out that in many ways ‘Open’ is the new ‘green’:

The old “open vs. proprietary” debate is over and open won. As IT infrastructure moves to the cloud, openness is not just a priority for source code but for standards and APIs as well. Almost every vendor in the IT market now wants to position its products as “open.” Vendors that don’t have an open source product instead emphasize having a product that uses “open standards” or has an “open API.

As Audrey Watters has eloquently stated, the fight is now who gets to decide what counts:

This battle involves the ongoing struggle to define “what is open.” It involves the narratives that dominate education – “education is broken” and “disruption is inevitable,” for example – and the “solutions” that “open” purports to offer. It involves a response to the growth of corporate ecosystems and commercial enclosures, built with open source technologies and open data initiatives. And all of this, I would argue, must involve politics for which we shouldn’t let “open” be an easy substitute.

As the term ‘MOOC’ (Massive Online Open Course) has shown, you can’t have it both ways: if a term includes enough ambiguity and flexibility to be widely adopted, then those who originally defined it no longer have control over the definition. It’s out in the wild. Like a virus, the definition mutates over time.

It’s not the word ‘Open’ we need to protect, it’s the spirit behind it. We’re fighting a losing battle if we expect a word to mean the same thing for all eternity. Instead, as a community we should create, sustain and release new terms to help shed light on the things we believe to be important and hold dear.

Finally, as Audrey reminds us in the quotation above, to align yourself with an agenda of Openness is a political statement. As such we should be prepared to get our hands dirty and fight for what we believe.

Image CC BY-NC-SA John Carleton

March 14, 2014 12:14 PM

March 13, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, March 12, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, March 12, 2014:


Speaker: Jean-Phillippe (JP) Choinière

BuzzMath’s Creative Director JP joined us for the Open Badges Community Call in January, and came back this week to dive deeper in the work BuzzMath has been doing with their badges on the Research & Badge System Design Call.

To see JP’s presentation slides, click here.

Common Core BuzzMath Badges

JP and his small 15-person team are based in Montreal, and launched BuzzMath about two years ago to help students develop math skills. They soon saw that many learners were having trouble seeing ‘where to go’ in terms of their progress through the activities, and saw a opportunity to use badges to not only identify challenges and things to be achieved, but also to recognize soft skills and motivate learners to do more.

"We think about the students first," JP told the group. The main goal of BuzzMath is for students to master each concept, no matter how many attempts are needed to get there: students can try over and over until they get the correct answers.

There are 56 available badges that allow middle school students to share earned knowledge and accomplishments through BuzzMath's programs, within three categories: Content Knowledge Badges, which include over 3,000 activities that are aligned to components of the Common Core Standards; Process Knowledge Badges, which are awarded by teachers for soft skills related to mathematics; and Achievements Badges for the completion of a set of activities.

There are two basic levels of achievement within the BuzzMath platform: when learners complete activities they earn stars which unlock challenges. These challenges, upon completion, lead to the earning of a badge.

Within the Content Knowledge Badge challenge activities, there are learning tracks students progress along to earn badges and prove concept mastery. There are usually around 10 badges per gold badge track, though this can vary. There aren’t always 3 badges in the track (bronze, silver, gold) - some only have two (silver, gold), etc. Each activity can have around 8-12 pages of activities associated with it. Completion of anywhere between three and six activities leads to a badge.

For the Process Knowledge Badges, the intention is to encourage discussion between teachers and students that was concrete. These badges are determined by the teachers, and are awarded by teachers for “observable positive learning behaviors such as teamwork and problem solving.” 

By contrast, the Achievement Badges are automatically awarded for reaching goals such as improved accuracy and quantity of activities completed.

The focus of the BuzzMath program is for the learners to have fun with math, rather than focus on their progress being reported back to their teachers. By combining national standards with 21st century & soft skills recognition, BuzzMath is helping learners capture a fuller picture of their skills as well as motivating them to continue learning.

Challenges and Next Steps

Some challenges JP and the BuzzMath team faced were related to building value within the badge system and trying to encourage collaboration. Many saw coverage of the whole of the Common Core standard as necessary for the badge system to have value. As a result, only the 6th grade badges have been built so far. There are plans to build out the material for 7th and 8th grade, but there is a lot of work involved - hopefully this will continue to grow!

Another challenge JP described was what he called the “privileges” attached to the badges, saying that badge systems are much easier to talk about that they are to build. Collaborative components of the system were pushed back as they dug deeper into the process as a result.

In the future, JP hopes to try and encourage endorsement from the Common Core, but right now the role of that standards initiative does not include endorsement.

We love hearing about the BuzzMath badges and seeing the momentum - 15,600 BuzzMath badges have been awarded in the last month, that’s so exciting! We look forward to hearing more as they continue to build out material and badges in their system.

March 13, 2014 06:35 PM

Open Badges Community Call, March 12, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, March 12, 2014:



The Discovery Team took over this week’s Community Call, sharing their work on the Discovery app and their findings from research and prototyping they have been doing over the past few months.

Discovery, Pathways & Playful Design

As Mozilla’s games rock star, Chloe Varelidi is passionate about playful learning design and has done some wonderful work for Mozilla on learning games and more - which you can read about on her blog.

Last summer, Chloe and others on the Open Badges team started exploring the idea of pathways more deeply as we prepared to softly launch BadgeKit at MozFest. Then, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this work picked up momentum to become a really exciting part of the next evolution of the Open Badges product offerings, due to launch in June 2014.

Chloe, Lucas and Mike tested their pathways framework at the Open Badges Summit in February and their clickable prototype at DML last week. During this week’s presentation, they shared their work and process on research, design, content and tech for the new Discovery app they are creating, as well as the Directory component that will accompany it.

At it’s core, the Discovery app aims to make it easier to find and earn badges, as well as help people develop pathways to opportunities using badges.


In the workforce, employers face difficulties finding the right candidates who are skilled for the job, and many skilled workers find it hard to access opportunities that utilize their skills - or to even get all of their skills recognized in a way that is valuable to them and to potential employers. If badges can help bridge some of those gaps, then making it easy to find, earn, and progress through different badge activities will help skilled individuals build pathways to success.

So what is a “pathway” in this context?

A pathway is a learning map represented by badges, degrees, activities and personal stories.

These experiences are relevant to where a learner is and where they are headed.

Within the Discovery framework, a badge issuer could create templates and statements of needs, in order to find better candidates for jobs. On the flip side, an earner can fill in pathways with badges to tell their story, show their goals and plan their progress towards a career. They would also be able to explore and ‘fork’ or remix other users’ pathways to suit their needs.

Chloe shared their design principles for the pathways tools: they are malleable (non-prescriptive and remixable), playful (creative and joyful) and storylike (they don’t just include credentials, but stories too). The design elements of Discovery reflect these principles - currently, the team is exploring design themes based on maps, based on the interviews and research they have conducted, books Chloe has been reading, and their team’s own work:

[W]e have started to create a UI that is greatly inspired by maps and a UX that allows for this kind of playfulness and maleabl-ity (if that is a word:)). Here is a sneak peak on what our UI Designer (and Amsterdam native/map lover) Sander Giesing has been working on. From a UX point of view the badges are re-arrangeable like a puzzle and users can add new badges they have wishlisted and/or remove existing ones that are not relevant to them. In addition the little books represent what we mentioned above as story-bits, little notes that add a narrative flair to the pathway. 



Lucas Blair shared the different pathway types that were identified by the team:

  • Linear: a [chronological] series of badges
  • Freeform: more flexible; could be more aesthetic than logical
  • Tiered: an advanced linear pathway with levels, milestones and/or branches; offers more variability
  • Cluster: users can identify different categories of badges; creates an infographic of different skill areas. Identifies the relationships between the grouped badges without indicating what order they should be earned in.

After conducting some initial interviews and industry research, the team realized that these initial pathway types didn’t always capture everything, so they created an additional pathway type: the hybrid. This allows for any combination of the other types - tiered clusters, for example.


Badgeable moments

The interview process included listening to the stories of employers, workers and students and identifying what the team calls “badgeable moments” - the points at which informal or self-motivated learning contributes to the story of a person’s skills or knowledge but has yet to be fully recognized, showcased or used to advance the learner’s progress. Through listening to these stories, the team (and interviewees) were able to see different pathways, as well as the ways badges could fit in.

Provisional badge types developed by the team came out of the interviews and out of industry research, to address the issues we’ve seen all to often: Employers want skilled workers and to give current employees goals. Teachers want to give students tasks, help them set goals and track their progress. Learners want recognition for all they’ve learned and achieved. With pathways and badges, learners can progress along a pathway, earn badges, and have a better way of showcasing their skills to employers and hopefully get the job they want!

Mike Larsson spoke about the technical side of the project, detailing the two necessary components of the product: as well as Discovery, there will be a Directory, to help gather as many badges as possible to feed into the Discovery app. Discovery isn’t a badging authoring tool, and cannot ‘find’ information about badges. To build out the Directory, badge issuers would share their badges available for earning, feeding them into the Directory to then become part of pathways for learners.This allows for remixing and editing pathways, and learners can pull different badges onto pathways, as well as track their progress. The badges earned can be collected in the Mozilla Backpack and shared publicly on the many platforms users already highlight their badge achievements.

Stay tuned

The Discovery tool is due to launch later this year in June, and will feature pathways tools and a growing badge directory. You can track the team’s progress a number of different ways:

Next week:

Next week we will be joined by Mark Otter from VIF International, which launched its badge system for global educators at the end of last year. Stay tuned for news of the second speaker!

March 13, 2014 05:14 PM

March 12, 2014

Mark Surman

Happy birthday world wide web. I love you. And want to keep you free.

As my business card says, I have an affection for the world wide the web. And, as the web turns 25 this week, I thought it only proper to say to the web ‘I love you’ and ‘I want to keep you free’.

Web heart pic

From its beginning, the web has been a force for innovation and education, reshaping the way we interact with the world around us. Interestingly, the original logo and tag line for the web was ‘let’s share what we know! — which is what billions of us have now done.

As we have gone online to connect and share, the web has revolutionized how we work, live and love: it has brought friends and families closer even when they are far away; it has decentralized once closed and top-down industries; it has empowered citizens to pursue democracy and freedom. It has become a central building block for all that we do.

Yet, on its 25 birthday, the web is at an inflection point.

Despite its positive impact, too many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics, let alone its culture or what it means to be a citizen of the web. Mobile, the platform through which the next billion users will join the web, is increasingly closed, not allowing the kind of innovation and sharing that has made the world wide web such a revolutionary force in in the first place. And, in many parts of the world, the situation is made worse by governments who censor the web or use the web surveil people at a massive scale, undermining the promise of the web as an open and trusted resource for all of humanity.

Out of crisis comes opportunity. As the Web turns 25, let us all say to the web: ‘I love you’ and ‘I want to keep you free’. Let’s take the time to reflect not just on the web we have, but on the web we want.

Mozilla believes the web needs to be both open and trusted. We believe that users should be able to control how their private information is used. And we believe that the web is not a one-way platform — it should give as all a chance makers, not just consumers. Making this web means we all need access to an open network, we all need software that is open and puts us in control and we all need to be literate in the technology and culture of the web. The Mozilla community around the world stands for all these things.

So on the web’s 25 birthday, we are joining with the Web at 25 campaign and the Web We Want campaign to enable and amplify the voice of the Internet community. We encourage you to visit to sign a birthday card for the web and visit our interactive quilt to share your vision for the type of web you want.

Happy Birthday to the web — and to all of us who are on and in it!


ps: Also, check out these birthday wishes for the web from Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker and Brendan Eich.

pps: Here’s the quilt: the web I want enables everyone around the world to be a maker. Add yourself.


Filed under: drumbeat, mozilla, openweb, webmakers

March 12, 2014 05:06 PM

Doug Belshaw

What does working openly on the web mean in practice? [UK Web Focus]

It’s Open Education Week. In addition to facilitating a discussion on behalf of Mozilla, I’ve got a guest post on Brian Kelly’s blog entitled What Does Working Openly on the Web Mean in Practice?

Here’s a preview:

Working open is not only in Mozilla’s DNA but leads to huge benefits for the project more broadly. While Mozilla has hundreds of paid contributors, they have tens of thousands of volunteer contributors — all working together to keep the web open and as a platform for innovation. Working open means Mozilla can draw on talent no matter where in the world someone happens to live. It means people with what Clay Shirky would call cognitive surplus can contribute as much or as little free time and labour to projects as they wish. Importantly, it also leads to a level of trust that users can have in Mozilla’s products. Not only can they inspect the source code used to build the product, but actually participate in discussions about its development.

Go and read the post in full. I’d be interested in your comments (over there – I’ve closed them here to encourage you!) :-)

Bonus: The web is 25! Remix this

Image CC BY-NC Glen Scott

March 12, 2014 02:25 PM

Geoffrey MacDougall

Infographic: Our 2013 Fundraising Success

2013 was Mozilla’s most successful fundraising year ever. We grew our core operating grants and more than doubled the size of our donations campaign.

This is a shared, project-wide accomplishment. More than 40 Mozillians from across the foundation, corporation, and community pulled together to make it happen. And I’m proud of what we accomplished.

We still have a long way to go. We’re overly dependent on a few key funders and there’s a big gap between our current revenue and our goal of matching Wikimedia’s fundraising program.

But 2013 was an indication that we’re on the right path, with the right team, and a mission our community loves.

Click to enlarge


Filed under: Mozilla, Pitch Geek

March 12, 2014 02:28 AM

March 11, 2014

Doug Belshaw

On the link between Open Education and the Open Web

I’m currently moderating a discussion as part of Open Education Week on behalf of Mozilla. In today’s discussion prompt I asked:

What do you see as the link between Open Education and the Open Web? Does the former depend on the latter?

It’s a question that depends on several things, not least your definition of the two terms under consideration. Yesterday, in answer to the first discussion prompt, I used Mozilla Thimble to make this:

Open Education means collaborating, sharing and working in ways that benefit students and fellow educators.

The above would be my current (brief) definition of Open Education. But what about the Open Web? Here I’m going to lean on Mark Surman’s definition from 2010:

Open web = freedom, participation, decentralization and generativity.

That last word, ‘generativity’ is an interesting one. Here’s part of the definition from Wikipedia:

Generativity in essence describes a self-contained system from which its user draws an independent ability to create, generate, or produce new content unique to that system without additional help or input from the system’s original creators.

As an educator, I believe that the role of teachers is to make themselves progressively redundant. That is to say, the learner should take on more and more responsibility for their own learning. Both teachers and learners can work together within an Open Educational Ecosystem (OEE) that is more than the sum of its parts.

The more I think about it, this is how the Open Web is similar to Open Education. Both are trying to participate in a generative ecosystem benefitting humankind. It’s about busting silos. It’s about collaborating and sharing.

Does Open Education depend upon the Open Web? No, I wouldn’t say it that strongly. Open Education can happen without technology; you can share ideas and resources without the web. However, the Open Web significantly accelerates the kind of sharing and collaboration that can happen within an OEE. In other words, the Open Web serves as a significant catalyst for Open Education.

What do you think? What’s the relationship between Open Education and the Open Web?

Join the discussion!

March 11, 2014 10:30 AM

March 10, 2014

Laura Hilliger

Webmaker: An Open Educational Ecosystem (OEE)

Often it’s difficult to get contributions to open projects because some people aren’t quite sure what contribution means or how to go about doing it. Other folks don’t know what “Open” means, and thus they don’t know they can contribute at all. Perhaps it’s the nomenclature of “Open” that confuses people. Perhaps it’s just an “Open” marketing problem. In any case, my suspicion has been that in order to activate people to teach the web, Mozilla would need to help people learn how to participate in an open community. Connecting to a specific community online requires a certain…persistence. There are also social skills at play that weren’t necessarily encouraged in our formal school systems. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] photo by Doug Belshaw[/caption] It isn’t necessarily that I think people don’t know how to teach or even that they didn’t know how to teach digital skills, it’s just that in order to be intentional about teaching the skills and competencies that make up the Web Literacy Map, people need to understand concepts that underpin all of the work that we do. People also need to understand how to use web technologies in support of openness, and those two things together are, perhaps, more complicated than they sound. I want to help people teach the web in an open and participatory way, which means that process would have to be opened up. I was thinking about what a kind of Technical Training program for the web would look like, and to me, it looked like an open community. Our people - a globally diverse group of passionate educators and technologists - believe in the web as a platform for learning, sharing, connecting and making, and they believe that open practice and participation are key elements to becoming a citizen in the digital world. Our community members are eager to spread web literacy in their local contexts, but participating in the global movement means that one needs to navigate through a complex and sometimes confusing ecosystem of digital human communication. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] TeachTheWeb MOOC was an online prototype we ran last year. Click the picture to learn more about it![/caption] Our Training program is designed to give people an easy in to the types of online communication and participation I’m talking about. We want to design a way for people to experiment and fail forward. We’d like the online component to support the offline actions and vice versa. This is the reason that everything in Webmaker Training is optional and that it’s all centered around making and connecting around what you make. This is also the reason that we are trying to encourage the peer to peer aspect of learning. To help us do that, Mozilla is once again partnering up with P2PU, a group of incredible connected educators who are helping bake peer to peer interaction into the Webmaker Training content. Together, we’re working on a Training platform and program that will make it easy for anyone to jump in and see what the Webmaker community is making to support learning web competencies. We’re running ongoing feedback and testing sessions through this open Wiki and by talking about this program in the Teach the Web Community Calls. To get involved, you can join our community calls or post your interest to any one of our monitored channels (#teachtheweb, #makerparty, @webmaker, the G+ Group, the Webmaker Newsgroup…). And if those options don’t appeal to you, you can send me an email and I’ll help you get started! I see a lot of potential in the modular, remixable way we’re designing our trainings to be. We’re building the content hosting platform using GitHub Pages, which will make it easy for us to bake in YOUR feedback early and often. It also means that anyone can contribute to Webmaker Trainings by sending a pull request. You can already build teaching kits for your specific organization or audience, and in the future, you’ll be able to build entire courses via remix. Using GitHub pages will allow us to build modules (e.g. courses) so that enthusiastic community members and partner organizations can remix them to run modified versions. Imagine if you could easily copy a single module, remix it to add your own lens, branding or curriculum and publish it. Then imagine that that action earned you a badge. Ideally, you will be able to save your new module to your Webmaker Profile, thereby giving you a URL where your module exists. When this functionality is working, we’ll have an Open Educational Ecosystem (OEE, I just made up a new term!) that has learner-focused resources (starter makes), full scale lesson plans for in the classroom (Teaching Kits), and a courseware platform (Training Modules) for online learning. And the icing on the cake? It’s all remixable, it’s all truly open and it’s all built with the Webmaker Community. We’d love to know what you think about this idea, so leave a comment or get in touch using the channels listed above!
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March 10, 2014 04:34 PM

Doug Belshaw

Open Education and the Open Web (#openeducationwk)

This week is Open Education Week 2014:

Open Education Week is a series of events to increase awareness of open education movement. The third annual Open Education Week takes place from March 10-15, both online and offline around the world. Through the events and resources, we hope to reach out to more people to demonstrate what kind of opportunities open education has created and what we have to look forward to.

Mozilla is playing a role, through a week-long online discussion entitled Open Education and the Open Web. There’ll be a new question to prompt conversation each day in our Google+ Webmaker community.

What does it mean to participate on the open web? How can we encourage others to take agency over the opportunities the open web provides? This discussion led by Mozilla’s Doug Belshaw will explore the participatory culture of the web, why it matters, and what we can do to protect and cultivate it.

Today’s prompt is simple. We’re just asking people to introduce themselves and respond as to what ‘open education’ looks like in their context.

You should join us. It’s totally fine to dip in and dip out. Take the first step:

Click here to join the Mozilla Webmaker Google+ community

Image CC BY mozillaeu

March 10, 2014 09:39 AM

March 08, 2014

Open Badges blog

Badges in Action, from Austin to Boston!

We were traveling far and wide this week to spread the badge love! Four members of our team were in Austin at the beginning of the week for the South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) Conference. Then we gathered in Boston for the Digital Media + Learning (DML) Conference, ending the week with announcements, share-outs from ongoing projects, and talking badges with just about everyone!

On Tuesday, Meg joined Dr.William J. Ward from Syracuse University, Yair Riemer from the Career Arc Group / and Kirsten Bailey of HootSuite for Is Being Tech-Savvy The New MBA? where they looked at some of the unique and innovative ways in which schools and members of the business world are coming together to help prepare students for today’s tech-heavy world.

On Wednesday, Emily and Sunny joined Mark Riches of Makewaves for Open Badges Go Global: Building Valuable Pathways,sharing examples of badges “in the wild” and digging into what has and hasn’t worked for large-scale international digital assessment programs. Mark will be giving this talk again on a Google Hangout on March 11 - tweet him for more details!

On Thursday, as the DML Conference was kicking off in Boston, An-Me was joined by Matthew Pittinsky of Parchment, Cathy Sandeen from ACE and Darin R. Hobbs of Western Governors University for Enabling Stackable Credentials: The Future is Now. As we say all the time in the Open Badges community, learning occurs anywhere, everywhere, and throughout our lives. This session looked at how learning and credentialing is expanding, giving an overview of the range of alternative credentials emerging today to help lifelong learners demonstrate what they know and can do.

The second half of our week was spent in Boston for the 2014 DML Conference, which was framed around the theme of ‘connecting practices’ this year.

At this year’s conference - which marked the one-year anniversary since the launch of Open Badges 1.0 - we were thrilled to share two big projects we’ve been working on.

The biggest announcement, of course, was the launch of BadgeKit, available in private beta to organizations for now, with more features and accessibility being built in over the coming year.

We also shared the latest in Open Badges Discovery, a result of the hard work of our team and community, led by our Chloe Varelidi and with essential research, design and technical support from Emily, Jess, Mike, Lucas Blair and more.


We shared demos and discussions of these two exciting evolutions of Open Badges at the Mozilla Science Fair on Thursday, where we were joined by a whole host of other amazing organizations showcasing their work, including Hive, Webmaker, and more.

Yesterday, our community superstars Dan Hickey, Nate Otto and the rest of the Indiana team presented findings and thoughts from their work looking at the Badges for Lifelong Learning grant recipients and developing the badge Design Principles Documentation Project - read their Interim Report to learn more. In their session, titled "It’s Not (just) About the Badges," the team shared their biggest lesson learned: that it really isn’t just about the badges, but about learning ecosystems, and creating pathways within and across these systems, using badges "to highlight nuanced learning and understanding that traditional grading systems do not."

Nate shared his surprise and excitement that the session - which they expected to draw around 20 people to - was attended by 117 people! With this year’s announcement of BadgeKit and the echoes of last year’s Open Badges launch at DML, many at the conference this year were eager to talk about badges and the journey we’ve taken, from a year ago, to today, and onward to future developments.

If you missed any sessions at these conferences, don’t worry! Selected recorded sessions from both conferences are available on the SXSWedu website and the DML YouTube channel. DML concludes today, so if you’re in Boston, check the schedule to see what else is going on today.

Thank you to everyone who braved the bitter cold to join us this week - we look forward to seeing what you all took away from the experience!

March 08, 2014 03:21 PM

Recap: Summit to Reconnect Learning

This was originally posted on the Summit to Reconnect Learning website.


The 2014 Open Badges Summit to Reconnect Learning brought together nearly 300 participants from around the world to work together on setting the course for the next evolution of Open Badges, a new approach to assessing learning and recognizing skills and competencies wherever they are learned—in school, on the job, in the community, or online.

Since emerging through a series of pilot projects like the Chicago Summer of Learning and supported by research initiatives like HASTAC, Open Badges have demonstrated the potential for disruptive innovation in the way we learn in today’s connected, digital world. Held February 12-13, 2014 in Silicon Valley, the Summit to Reconnect Learning was the first event to focus on moving Open Badges from the edges of innovation to the mainstream.

For K-12 schools, out-of-school programs, colleges and universities, as well as businesses and professional organizations, open digital badges are an increasingly popular way to verify and document skills and achievements that are not adequately measured by standardized tests and traditional resumes or diplomas.

“We have incredible learning resources, but they are highly fragmented and disconnected. What we desperately need is to connect the learning resources we have to the most important parts of kids’ world. That’s why badges are important,” said Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, speaking during the opening session of the Summit to Reconnect Learning.

In addition to Yowell, speakers at the Summit to Reconnect Learning included David Theo Goldberg of HASTAC, Nichole Pinkard of the Digital Youth Network, Michael Strautmanis of the Walt Disney Company, Jonathan Williams of Intel Corporation, Miguel Salinas of the Adobe Foundation, Cathy Lewis Long of The Sprout Fund, and more.


Throughout the two-day summit, a wave of new business and education partners made public pledges committing to help accelerate the spread and scale of digital badges for learning.

Leading the pack of commitment pledges was the announcement of the formation of the Badge Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals building and enhancing an open badging ecosystem. This new entity will take lead responsibility for stewarding the Open Badges movement as it continues to evolve. Erin Knight, Director of Learning at Mozilla, will lead the Badge Alliance.

Among the other major announcements made at the Summit to Reconnect Learning, several major global education companies including Pearson, Blackboard, edX, and others committed to integrating the Open Badges platform into their digital credentialing systems.

For a full list of organizations and initiatives announced at the summit, visit

Next Steps

The next evolution of the Open Badges for learning movement commenced immediately following the Summit to Reconnect Learning with the newly formed Badge Alliance recruiting working group members to dig into key issues, unanswered questions and important use cases. Individuals and organizations interested in joining the movement and contributing to the work of the Badge Alliance can become a member by visiting

On the ground, extensive badging systems will be deployed in cities throughout the US through the Cities of Learning initiative, an evolution of the successful 2013 Chicago Summer of Learning that used Open Badges to recognize participation and learning achievements in summer learning programs throughout the city.

About the Summit

The Open Badges Summit to Reconnect Learning was hosted by The Sprout Fund, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and sponsored by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). Additional event partners include Mozilla, HASTAC, Digital Promise, and NestGSV.

March 08, 2014 10:00 AM

March 07, 2014

Hive NYC

Taking Hive Global

This is the first in a series of blog posts where Chris Lawrence, Mozilla’s Senior Director of the Webmaker Community, details plans for a global network of Hive activity. These posts will provide an overview of Hive, as a philosophy and as a Webmaker strategy. They will detail Mozilla’s ongoing involvement and map a path for how Hive will spread to new cities, from initial interest to the creation of sustainable and connected networks.


The Hive Learning Network project is a global set of values, strategies, tools and design principles. Hive has become an integral part of Mozilla’s work and has connected hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of youth engaged in interest-based production. In line with Mozilla’s mission, Hive also helps people know more, do more, and do better.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 4.00.05 PM

We believe 2014 will be a pivotal year in establishing Hive as a global effort linking local educators to an international community through the advancement of connected learning, web literacy, and digital skills.

Together, Mozilla, MacArthur Foundation and other key stakeholders plan to increase Hive participation at the individual, city, and global level by activating educators and empowering them with the tools, community, culture, and practice to re-imagine learning in the cities in which they live.

We have a responsibility to optimize how youth learn.

The inspiration and design of the Hive model springs from a fidelity to connected learning, an emergent educational theory that recognizes the need for a new approach to learning. It is defined by its core values, learning, and design principles. We also know that the technology and the culture of the web is critical to learning in a connected world—helping all young people become citizens of the web is an issue of justice and equity. Our experiences, whether digital or analog, are informed by the web. The web is so integrated into our collective daily lives, we believe that web literacy is essential for youth and the adults who interact with them to be positioned for success in our ever changing world.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 1.10.50 PM

We need a Global Hive to spread tools and practices from existing Hives and to help people who want to start Hives in new cities.

Through the work we have done over the past two and a half years with Hive NYC, and more recently with Hive Chicago, Hive Pittsburgh, and Hive Toronto, we have learned:

Hive is the city-based strategy within Mozilla’s Webmaker initiative.

Mozilla will house, operate, and co-fund Hive Global to function as a “big tent” for educators and organizations with diverse approaches to come together around connected learning and web literacy. Having a local and grassroots approach with Hive allows us to build momentum for and global adoption of the philosophy, tools, and strategies of connected learning.


As steward of the Global Hive network, Mozilla will construct and convene a governance structure, create materials, offer badges, run events, provide web platforms, and collect metrics that support the work of local Hive leaders.

Our roadmap for Hive Global in 2014

In the coming months, we will be working to identify and document best practices from existing Hive Learning Networks that can be shared with others globally. We’ll share more details and resources for those interested in exploring what a Hive might look like in their city.

Our immediate priorities are to:

In my next post, I will share thoughts on a tiered engagement model that outlines what contribution to Hive looks like, and how those interested in activating local communities around this model might start on that path.

We’re extremely excited about the progress we’ve made in the past two years, and in the rising interest we’ve seen and heard from people and organizations around the world who have an affinity to our work. In many ways, we’re working to meet the demands of the opportunity to share and spread the Hive model, and so we’d love to hear your feedback or comments on these initial plans–please feel free to add them below or to email me directly.



The post Taking Hive Global appeared first on Hive NYC.

March 07, 2014 09:08 PM

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Community Call, March 5, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, March 5, 2014:



This week, the Open Badges team and community were in Austin for South by Southwest Education and Boston for the Digital Media & Learning Conference but we managed to come together for the Community Call, where we heard about Jess’ community aid badging work, badges for the Digital Commonwealth Project, and dug deeper into the concepts of “open” and “closed” [badge] systems.

Emergency Hack Jam & Community Aid Badging

Jess led sessions on community aid badging and emergency hack sessions at last year’s MozFest and some great work came out of that in-person and online group:

"During times of crisis, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, relief work can be really complicated - even if people are really well intentioned. One of the hugest problems that I encountered with Rockaway Help was a lack of a feedback loop between us (the grassroots organizers), the individuals in need and the volunteers. This is crucial for many reasons but to name a few : efficiency with task management, ability to acknowledge volunteer skillsets, the ability to match volunteers with appropriate tasks, and the ability to identify mentorship opportunities.

By connecting volunteers directly to members of affected population through Open Badges, we empower people who need help to engage in the relief effort, and maintain involvement before and after they have received aid.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which hit Jess’ hometown of Rockaway Beach, NY, Jess saw a huge disconnect between the thousands of people wanting to help with the relief efforts and the needs of the affected communities, particularly when it came to putting those with the right skills in place to be most effective.

Badges, Jess saw, could be the key to identifying and closing these gaps, pinpointing skills, and recognizing volunteers. One of Jess’ session participants Willow Brugh, who works with Geeks Without Bounds, put together some great videos that highlight the problems to be solved.

The community aid badging efforts are an example of how badges can have a big impact in times where organization can be difficult and finding the right people for the right job can be near impossible. By connecting resources and volunteers to the areas they are needed most, these efforts can help reduce the time communities spend waiting for aid in times of crisis. To read more about this work, visit Jess’ blog.

Badges for the Digital Commonwealth Project

Jennifer Jones was appointed the task of compiling educational resources to support trainers and learners within school and community media as part of the Digital Commonwealth Project, which was developed to empower youth through digital media as the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games brings attention to the issues addressed by the project - identity, storytelling, media diversity, etc. Jennifer put together a presentation to provide more context about major events and digital storytelling here.

As project coordinator, Jennifer has been exploring Open Badges and other digital tools to develop a set of educational resources to support trainers and  learners within schools and the community. She has proposed the use of Open Badges for “evidence based, granular accreditation for the training elements of the project.”

Jennifer’s project looks at three key areas:

Inspired by the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s exploration of badges, Jennifer set up a test site at to start looking at how they might start credentialing the skills, literacies and other competencies represented by badges. The Commonwealth Games will bring a lot of media attention to the area, and Jennifer would like others to see this as an opportunity to accredit digital storytelling and use badges to capture what’s being told, learned, and shared.

This test site will be brought to schools in the coming weeks, and after a testing period it is hoped that the system can be expanded out by handing it over to others to build upon for their own schools and learning communities.

"The project allows us to span across different sectors," said Jennifer. Her team has been in touch with people at Glasgow Life who manage the museums, who are running their own citizenship program geared towards volunteering for the Games. This kind of cross-sector credentialing, Jennifer hopes, build connections between the different communities where digital storytelling takes place, recognizing and empowering those across Scotland and opening doors to new opportunities.

To read more about the Commonwealth Games, click here.

A separate blog post will be published on our discussion of “open” and “closed” next week - stay tuned for that!

Next week:

Join us next Wednesday for a deep dive into Chloe and Lucas' work on discovery and pathways - including a new test site they will be launching for feedback! To review their recent presentation on the Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, click here.

March 07, 2014 08:04 PM

BadgeKit Training Webinars

Yesterday we announced the release of BadgeKit, a set of open, foundational tools to support the entire badging process. We’re super excited to start helping people get badge systems up and running using one or more of these tools.

As part of our efforts in rolling out the private beta launch, we will be hosting a series of general BadgeKit training sessions over the next two weeks.

These sessions will look at how all the tools in BadgeKit will work, and we will be hosting more in-depth training sessions on the individual tools in the following weeks.

There will be five sessions held over the next two weeks:
Please register for the date and time that works best for you by clicking this link:

Looking forward to having you there!

March 07, 2014 06:25 PM

March 06, 2014

Sunny Lee

[soft drumroll]...aaaaand BadgeKit private beta coming right up!

We’ve talked a ton about BadgeKit over the past few months from its initial announcement back in October at Mozfest to BadgeKit MVP defining, tech defining, user experience design, to more recently BadgeKit for Cities

Many of these posts pointed to BadgeKit being made available at the Digital Media & Learning conference, this year taking place in Boston from March 6 through 8. 

And we’re finally here! We will be making BadgeKit available to organizations interested in issuing open badges. As previously mentioned, this initial release of BadgeKit targets organizations, like cities, who want to stand up larger-scale badge systems. This was a natural evolution of the work we did for Chicago Summer of Learning last year and the tools we developed to support that initiative such as Badge Studio (badge design tool), Open Badger (badge defining and issuing tool) and Aestimia (badge application and assessment tool). 

So what will this initial release of BadgeKit entail for issuing organizations?

* Enable access control

The issuing organization can create an uber admin login and from there grant some level of access control like who gets to issue a badge and who gets to assess/review a badge. We are thinking about adding more granularity down the road with ongoing user feedback and issuer requests. 

* Design a badge

The issuing organization can get started on designing and defining their badges. BadgeKit will support the full badge life cycle states from draft form, published to archived. The badge design and defining experience will be scaffolded through the introduction of templates. An example of templatizing badges can be found in the badges designed and issued as part of Chicago Summer of Learning. These badges all shared a hexagonal shape and a Chicago city banner that hung across it. 

This is an example of templates used to create consistent badge design but they can also be used for content creation. Some badges that are part of the same program may share similar information, like issuing organization name, program name, including elements of criteria. Rather than the issuing organization having to rewrite this information with each new badge, templates can help build on templatized content. We think templates can greatly help streamline the badge creation process for organizations. 

* Create badges that level up

Not only that, issuing organizations can build in leveling up features into their badge system. We are calling these milestone badges. An issuer can define the set of badges that together unlock a larger badge, which we are calling a milestone badge. 

* Issue a badge via email

The issuing organization will be able to issue a badge using the earner’s email. However, as perviously mentioned, BadgeKit is intended to be a backend admin support for issuing orgs who have existing sites where their communities reside. When a badge is issued to an earner via email on BadgeKit, this information is relayed to the issuing org’s application for the issuing org to determine how the badge will actually be delivered, whether via email, SMS or message in a bottle. Badge issuing via email is supported through the BadgeKit API with the issuer, customizing specific experiences according to their community needs and desires. 

* Display a badge on Issuer site via BadgeKit API

The issuing organization will be able to pull all the badges they have designed and created on BadgeKit onto their own website through an API and customize the badge interaction experience for their community of badge earners. 

* Support earners to apply for a badge on issuer site via BadgeKit API

When an earner is on the issuer site and comes across a badge that she would like to earn and can apply for online, she can do so. The earner, or prospective earner in this case, can click through and see the badge criteria and apply for the badge by submitting relevant information and evidence. This experience is supported by the BadgeKit API. 

* Assess a badge 

Once the prospective earner has submitted all relevant information on the issuer site, that badge application becomes accessible on the site to badge assessors/reviewers who have been granted the appropriate access controls from the issuing organization. Assessors/reviewers can then see the queue of badge applications and start evaluating them based on pre-defined criteria and/or rubrics. They can provide feedback and determine whether to issue or deny the earner of the badge. As mentioned in bullet 4, the earner experience of the actual delivery of the badge is defined by the issuer. 

* Support earners to send their earned badges to federated backpacks

n.b. Federated backpack feature will come later this month

Because BadgeKit is integrated with the open badges standard and APIs, the earner has the opportunity to send their earned badges to federated backpacks where they can decide how they want to further share it out to various social media channels. 


In addition to all this, it’s worth noting the brand definition work that our designers took on. We have a nice streamlined BadgeKit logo that is cohesive with the parent brand of Open Badges as well as Mozilla. This work was led by our designer Adil Kim with the guidance of our Creative Lead, Jess Klein who has written about this in greater detail in her blogpost:

We’ve made a lot of progress in the past few months but we still have a lot of work to do. As you can see, this initial release is focused on issuing organizations who have some level of technical resources and have an existing community-facing site into which they can integrate their badge system. Thereby it seemed appropriate to call this release private beta.

However, the goal is to make this more widely accessible in subsequent releases. As you well know, we develop and design in the open so all our code, sketches, wireframes and staging information are in fact out there for anyone to keep an eye on and poke holes at.

We’re excited to have reached this major milestone and look forward to feedback from issuing organizations who start to plug in!

n.b. We realize there may be a bunch of questions so we’ve put together some FAQs so take a look! Thanks to you all and as per yooszh, more to come!

March 06, 2014 06:59 PM

Open Badges blog

Announcing Mozilla BadgeKit


Today we are really excited to officially announce the release of BadgeKit, a new set of open, foundational tools to support the entire badging process for organizations developing badges for their communities.

While open badges has been gaining momentum - with more than 2,000 organizations issuing badges that align with the Open Badges standard - there are still ways we can make it easier for organizations to join the ecosystem, with free, flexible, open badging tools that support the needs of issuers, learners and consumers. There are too many gaps in the badging experience and many of the existing options are too closed, too expensive or too big. In fact, given the current options for organizations interested in issuing badges, it can be harder to make an open badge than a closed badge!

That’s why Mozilla is happy to launch BadgeKit. BadgeKit will:

BadgeKit builds on existing technologies that have evolved out of several years of work and user testing, including the Chicago Summer of Learning. In fact, specific tools within BadgeKit are currently being used by key partners within the badges ecosystem. We anticipate opening up Mozilla BadgeKit access throughout 2014. 

We softly released BadgeKit at last year’s MozFest, and we’ve shared our progress along the way through blog posts and Github milestones. We are thrilled to be reaching this milestone today in the release of BadgeKit.

Mozilla BadgeKit will be available in two forms:

What tools are included in BadgeKit?

BadgeKit provides lightweight, modular and open options for the community of badge makers to use and build upon within their existing sites or systems, including:

In the coming year, we will be developing additional tools for BadgeKit, as well as minimizing the technology requirements needed for access. Tools coming soon include: 

The tools are open source and have common interfaces to make it easy to build additional tools or customizations on top of the standard core, or to plug in other tools or systems.

Who is BadgeKit for?

BadgeKit is currently in private beta and can be used by any issuing organization that meets specific technical requirements. It is aimed at organizations that are building full badge systems and want to leverage their own sites and systems on the front end, as well as have access to technology resources. Tool providers might also be interested in leveraging BadgeKit to extend their own tools, or build additional customizations on top of BadgeKit.

Initial technical requirements:

We are exploring ways to create a lighter weight version of BadgeKit that could be used by for individuals and small organizations in 2014, but in the meantime, you can check out the additional community driven issuing platforms at to help you get started.

How do you get started?

We have a hosted version of Mozilla BadgeKit available in private beta for select partner organizations that meet specific technical requirements. And anyone can download the code from GitHub and implement it on their own servers. 

BadgeKit can be accessed in two ways:

  1. Software as a service: At, you’ll be able to access a hosted version of the tools to build out badges, remix badge templates, create badge levels, issue badges, etc. APIs will make it easy to then pull the badges and end user interfaces into your own website. All of the backend pieces are hosted, supported and updated by Mozilla, and you’ll have complete control over the experience of your end users through your own sites.
  2. Download: Easily download the code from and install the tools on your own server. 

What’s the difference between these two options? Well, if you choose to download the code, you will be in charge of the backend and hosting of BadgeKit, and will be able to customize and extend the tools as much as you need. For the fully hosted version of BadgeKit, all the backend pieces are hosted, supported and updated by Mozilla while you still have complete control over the experience of your end users on your own sites through our APIs.

We will be hosting a series of webinar trainings in the coming weeks to further dive into how BadgeKit works. Stay tuned for more details!

March 06, 2014 06:23 PM

Sunny Lee

The Roadshow continues: 3 conferences, 1 week, 1 BadgeKit release, 1 Discovery prototype showcase, WE GOT THIS!

This has been a crazy week for the open badges team. 

Amongst our team members, we are covering 3 conferences: ATP Innovations in Testing, SXSWEdu and the Digital Media and Learning conference

This includes 3 panel discussions, 1 interactive talk and presentation, 1 ignite talk, 2 Science Fair booths preparation, not to mention 1 BadgeKit private beta release and 1 Discovery prototype showcase. 


I wrote this while I was on a plane with colleagues Meg from the Badges team, Matt Williams from SF Hive and Dustin from Sprout Fund. We had departed an unseasonably frigid Austin, having survived SXSWEdu, and were headed to an even more frigid Boston for DML. 

So where are we at this midway-ish point in the week?

Reflections on the panels and sessions so far:

I couldn’t help but notice that the badges and digital credentialing conversation has come a long way. The ATP Innovations in Testing has not been a conference we had participated in the past. It is attended by the well-known guardians of high stakes testing, assessment and accreditation like Pearson, ACT, ETS etc. I popped into a couple sessions and was surprised to see the level of interest around digital credentialing and also its increasing relevance. On the actual panel that I had the honor of being a part of, it was clear that the badges conversation had expanded beyond the esoteric and was reaching a broader audience.

*** A session at ATP Innovations in Testing about the Changing Landscape of Recruiting in Industries, mentioned Digital Credentialing and Mozilla Open Badges. 

I would say the questions fielded and the level of interest and enthusiasm shown at our SXSWEdu sessions would corroborate that. 

A lot of work remains, both in the near term (this week) and longer term (getting wider adoption of open badges as complementary digital credentialing). While extremely tired right this moment, I’m also still pretty excited and looking forward to all the adventures ahead. 

March 06, 2014 04:27 PM

Jess Klein

Designing BadgeKit

After several months of hard work by the Open Badges team, we are announcing that BadgeKit is  available for access to Private Beta. This means that BadgeKit is now available in two forms:  a hosted version of Mozilla BadgeKit available in private beta for select partner organizations that meet specific technical requirements, and anyone can download the code from GitHub and implement it on their own servers. 

BadgeKit is a set of open, foundational tools to make the badging process easy. It includes tools to support the entire process, including badge design, creation, assessment and issuing, remixable badge templates, milestone badges to support leveling up, and much more. The tools are open source and have common interfaces to make  it easy to build additional tools or customizations on top of the  standard core, or to plug in other tools or systems.

From a design perspective, this milestone represents refinements in user research and testing, user experience, user interface and branding. 

We did user testing with members of the Hive in Brooklyn.
In preparation for this release, we conducted extensive user research to define the needs and goals for badge issuers. This work, led by Emily Goligoski, helped to define requirements for the BadgeKit offering as well as inform the user experience. The research was done using a variety of methodologies, however, it is worth noting that all of this work was done in the open. Emily organized distributed user testing in key markets such as New York, Chicago and Toronto to do everything from needs analysis to accessibility and functionality testing. The Open Badges weekly community calls were leveraged to pull in input from the highly motivated research and practitioner cohorts. Much of the work is documented both on her blog and in github. We paired every implementation milestone with some form of user testing and iteration. While this may sound obvious, it was a new way of working for our team, and I can unequivocally say that the product is better because of this practice. User research and testing did not happen in a bubble, but rather it became completed integrated with our design and implementation cycle. As a result, developers and designers became comfortable making informed iterations on the offering, as developers, designers and team researchers all participated in some form of user testing over the past three months. 

As a direct result of the extensive research and testing, the user experience for the entire BadgeKit offering was deeply refined. This work, led by Matthew Willse introduced some new features, such as badge “templates” which give the ability for any badge issuer to clone a badge template and remix it. This gives us the unique ability to offer template packages based on common badge requests from the community, as well as eventually to empower the large Open Badges ecosystem to develop badge templates of their own (and perhaps explicitly state how they are comfortable with their content being shared and remixed). One component of this work that evolved as a direct result of testing, was the increased attention to copy. Sue Smith led this work, which entailed everything from tool tip development and a glossary to API documentation. Considering that BadgeKit takes an issuer from badge definition

and  visual design

 to assessment and issuing,

designing the user experience was no small effort and the attention to detail combined with designing in the open - proved to be a solid approach for the team. 

Perhaps the most obvious design component of this release is the user interface design and brand definition. Adil Kim kicked off this work with an exploration of the brand identity. BadgeKit is under the parent brand of OpenBadges, which sits under the even larger parent brand of Mozilla - which gave us the constraints of designing within the brand guidelines. After exploring options to represent the visual metaphor for this modular system, here is the new logo:

The logo is meant to evoke the imagery of both a badge as well as a tool in one glance. For the untrained craftsperson (ahem) - while gazing into the mark - you will see a bolt . This connotes that BadgeKit is a tool, something that allows you to dive into the details and construct a badge, and a system for your community. The logo incorporates the palette from Mozilla Open Badges, in a playful mobius - at once implying that while this is a handcrafted experience, it is also a seamless one. This logo nicely fits into the larger brand family while reading on it’s own, as if to say, “hey, BadgeKit is the offering for badge MAKERS, dive in and get your hands dirty!” 

The brand is in turn extended to user interface design. The overall art direction here was that this needs to be clean, yet approachable. We know that many organizations will not be using all of the components in the interface directly on, however, the design needs to take into account that everything needs to be accessible and read as remixable. Some details to note here are the simplified navigation, the palette and subtle details like the ability to zoom on hover over thumbnails. 

It’s worth noting that while Emily, Matthew, Sue and Adil , as well as Carla, Meg, Erin, Jade, Sabrina Ng, Chloe and Sunny were invested in much of this design work, there was an intentional yet organic partnership with the developers (Zahra, Erik, Andrew, Chris, Mavis Ou, Mike and Brian + many, many community contributors) who were doing the implementation. We had weekly critiques of the work and often engaged in conversation about design as well as implementation on github. 

Another component of this work is looking ahead towards future features. Chloe Varelidi lead work here thinking through the potential for badge and skill discovery. Under a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chloe and her team are thinking through ways to represent earner pathways. This eventually will be leveled up into the core BadgeKit offering, but you can start to dip your toes into those features by checking out the work here.

And the good news is that design never ends! Design isn’t just a destination, it’s an invitation to a conversation. Check it out, let us know what’s working and importantly, what’s not.

March 06, 2014 09:27 AM

March 03, 2014

Open Badges blog

SXSWedu, here we come!

Way back in October, you voted for the four Open Badges proposals up for nomination for the 2014 South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) Conference + Festival. All that voting paid off -  three sessions were accepted to the conference - so thank you!

If any of you are heading to Austin next week for SXSWedu, look out for Meg, Emily, Sunny and An-Me at the conference next March.

Below are details of the three sessions our team will be speaking on, including dates, times, locations, and some sample tweets to help us get the word out.

To access the full schedule, go here:


Is Being Tech-Savvy the New MBA?

Tuesday, March 4 
10:30AM - 11:30AM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon D

With the tough economy and staggering costs of higher education, more and more college students are opting out of postgraduate degrees and plunging headfirst into the job market. But are they really prepared for what’s out there? In today’s hyper digital world, graduates need to have the tools today’s businesses require: like online skills and savvy. Here are just some of the unique and innovative ways in which schools and members of the business world are coming together to tackle the issue.

Meg will join Dr.William J. Ward from Syracuse University, Yair Riemer from the Career Arc Group and and Kirsten Bailey of HootSuite for Is Being Tech-Savvy The New MBA?


Open Badges Go Global: Building Valuable Pathways

Wednesday, March 5 
9:00AM - 10:00AM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon A

We’ll share badges “in the wild,” what has and hasn’t worked for large-scale international digital assessment programs, and ways employers are using this technology to identify talent. In this Core Conversation participants will also design their own systems to empower youth in times of transition.

Emily and Sunny will join Mark Riches of Makewaves for Open Badges Go Global: Building Valuable Pathways


Enabling Stackable Credentials: The Future is Now

Thursday, March 6 
9:00AM - 10:00AM
Hilton Austin Downtown Room 400/402 

Today more than ever, learning occurs anywhere, everywhere, and throughout our lives. This new, expanded learning ecosystem means credentials related to documenting learning are evolving too. Join Parchment, Open Badges, the American Council on Education (ACE) and Western Governors University to gain an overview of the spectrum of alternative credentials emerging today and how lifelong learners can demonstrate how much they know and how well they know it.

An-Me will join Matthew Pittinsky of Parchment, Cathy Sandeen from ACE and Darin R. Hobbs of Western Governors University for Enabling Stackable Credentials: The Future is Now



Thank you for your help in getting us here - if you want to spread the word about any or all of these sessions, here are some sample tweets to share with your followers:

March 03, 2014 09:01 AM

Doug Belshaw

What’s new with Open Badges?

Those keeping track will know that last year I moved teams within the Mozilla Foundation. I moved away from the Open Badges team to focus on (what is now) the Web Literacy Map. Despite this, I still have close ties to the Open Badges team. In fact, I’m currently helping design Webmaker and Web Literacy badges.

The big news at the start of 2014 on the Open Badges front is that there’s a new Badge Alliance to grow and develop the wider ecosystem. The Badge Alliance is a non-profit organisation to be led by Erin Knight, co-founder of the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). Over the next few months she’ll be joined at the Badge Alliance with a few members of the current Open Badges team. There’s more detail in Erin’s blog post.

Happily, Mozilla will continue to develop and nurture the open source technical stack behind the OBI. The next milestone is the release of BadgeKit in the next few months. This should remove any remaining friction from issuing Open Badges. For more on BadgeKit be sure to follow the blogs of Sunny Lee and Chris McAvoy. And, as ever, you should also follow Carla Casilli’s posts on badge system design.

If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Open Badges in general, the easiest thing to do is to keep tabs on the Open Badges blog. The weekly ‘Badger Beats’ in particular is a useful round-up of news from the world of badges. There’s also a good deal of conversation within the Open Badges discussion group. This is a friendly forum for those planning to dip their toes into the water for the first time.

Having joined Mozilla in 2012 to work both on the Open Badges project and (what’s grown into) the Web Literacy Map. I’m delighted that the former has been incubated with such success. I’m also pleased that the latter is to underpin both the next iteration of Webmaker and Mozilla’s aims to create a more web literate planet.

If you’d like to get involved with Mozilla’s work to create a better web then we’d love to have you onboard! The easiest way to get involved with the two projects I’ve mentioned is to join their respective weekly calls. The Open Badges community call is every Wednesday, and you can join us for the new #TeachTheWeb community call every Thursday.

Questions? I’ll do my best to respond to them in the comments below.

Image CC BY-NC-SA RSC Scotland

March 03, 2014 08:18 AM

February 28, 2014

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [30]

It’s been another busy week for Open Badges as we gear up for the 2014 South by Southwest Education (“SXSWedu”) Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas next week. If you’re joining us, look out for Meg, Emily, Sunny and An-Me, who will be speaking at three sessions between the four of them!

See where and when on the SXSWedu schedule:

The DML Conference is also happening next week - stay tuned for some exciting announcements coming out of Boston towards the end of the week!


Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

See what I meant about it being a busy week?

Check out the links above, feel free to tweet us anything badgeriffic you see over the weekend, and we hope to see you at SXSWedu and/or DML next week!

And now…’s time for the weekend!

February 28, 2014 09:30 PM

#openbadgesMOOC — Session 8: Assessment Strategies for Effective Badge Systems

Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials
Session 8: Assessment Strategies for Effective Badge Systems

Session Recording:

This week was the second 2014 session of the #openbadgesMOOC, New Currency for Professional Credentials with a presentation on Assessment Strategies for Effective Badge Systems led by Anne Derryberry, an analyst at Sage Road Solutions.

When building badge systems, assessment is one of the key components that must be considered. Before a badge can be awarded, issuers must have a way to verify that a badge earner has acquired the skills or competencies represented by the badge. That verification happens through evidence-based assessment, placing the emphasis on a demonstration of mastery rather than the recall of learned information. As Anne pointed out in her introduction, “badges don’t care where the learning happens” - as long as the individual can demonstrate competence and provide evidence to back it up, they have earned the badge. Those badges can then be stacked, representing granular achievements that combine to lead to mastery of a complete skill set.

During this session, we looked at various strategies for assessment, including traditional vs. authentic assessment.

Most of us are familiar with traditional assessment: taking tests where learners don’t have to know the answer to questions as long as they can recognize it from a selection. Learners may have to write short answers or essays that require the recall or regurgitation of information, providing indirect or abstract evidence, in an environment structured by the assessors or instructors. These tests can be largely evaluated by non-experts, and are frequently scored by ‘machine readers’ using keywords to determine competence.

By contrast, authentic assessment focuses on learners’ abilities, and includes performance tasks, capstone projects, and portfolios. It requires demonstrating the application of learned skills and essential knowledge in real-world scenarios using direct evidence in an environment structured by the learner. Rubrics are often used to evaluate these tasks to determine the assessment outcome.

You can see the differences laid out in this graphic below:

Authentic assessment tends to be the preferred type for badge systems, but as Anne Derryberry noted, it can be harder to evaluate and score within this kind of assessment framework. Many use a combination of traditional and authentic assessment methods when designing their badge systems for learning - as long as learners can demonstrate competence and evidence of mastery, the means of establishing this can fall anywhere on the spectrum between traditional and authentic assessment.

Many in our community are familiar with Dan Hickey’s work at Indiana University (alongside Rebecca Itow, Nate Otto and a team of others) on the badge Design Principles Documentation Project. Through looking closely at the developing badge systems that grew out of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, they have identified a set of principles for assessing learning that leads to digital badges, including the use of ‘leveled’ badge systems to show progress, aligning assessment with existing standards, the use of e-portfolios and rubrics, and getting students involved in designing badge criteria at the granular level.

Anne introduced the group to a real-world example of one of these badge systems being built at UC Davis for the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Major (SA & FS). These efforts are led by Joanna Normoyle, the Experiential & Digital Media Learning Coordinator at UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

The SA & FS badge system has five types of badges: skill, knowledge, honor, experience, and competence. Each type has a set of pre-determined badges that were designed based on program requirements, but the system also allows both faculty and students to develop other badges within each badge type.

Assessment within the program includes a portfolio component as well as the badges, and the plan is for the system to allow for peer assessment and review of portfolios as the program and badge system grows. Currently, badges are earned through the evaluation of an application that uses portfolio work as evidence of learning that is evaluated by faculty and mentors:

The assessment itself is still primarily offline - students present their work to a panel of faculty who evaluate the badge submissions - but the online platform allows for the collection, documentation and distribution of students’ work. Through the community elements of this platform, students are able to access other students’ shared work and learning pathways, to see connections to their own work and opportunities for further growth, and allow students to create a learning experience that suits their interests.

The SA & FS system allows students to design badges as part of the system, which opens up the discussion of the vigor of the badges being created. As Joanna pointed out, there are many ways that students are learning that mentors and instructors are not always aware of - particularly in a more independent learning environment like the one fostered at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. These student-designed badges (which are moderated by a faculty member, currently Joanna) can reflect the learning happening in other courses, internships, or informal experiences that have value to the students.

Currently, the SA & FS badge system and online platform is not connected directly to university and graduation requirements. The program itself has been working towards competency-based learning and self-assessment for a number of years, and so they wanted to treat the badges as an extension of this exploration of students’ interests and development. Rather than tying them to traditional grades, they have chosen so far to keep them in the realm of ‘alternative’ credentials.

To find out more about the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, check out the website:


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.


Next session:

Monday, March 31, 2-3:00 ET:
Introducing Mozilla’s BadgeKit

BadgeKit is a new set of open, foundational tools that will make the badging process easy and simple. BadgeKit will be launched by Mozilla’s Open Badges team in March of 2014. This session will provide a general overview of BadgeKit, including: Why BadgeKit? What is BadgeKit? A deeper look at BadgeKit tools, and more!

February 28, 2014 07:47 PM

February 27, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, Feb. 26, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, Feb. 26, 2014:

Speakers: Ugochi Acholonu, DePaul University, + Dan Hickey, Indiana University

This week’s Research & Badge System Design Call featured a presentation from Ugochi Acholonu, a postdoctoral researcher working with the Digital Youth Network (DYN). Along with Dan Hickey, Ugochi has been doing research into learning analytics and badges and began a discussion around equity and badges. They are making a particular distinction between equity and access.


Ugochi worked with DYN during the Chicago Summer of Learning initiative, the largest citywide summer learning program with badges to date, which provided youth with learning opportunities in the “STEAM” fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

Ugochi and the DYN team identified four learner engagement types that most of the youth fell into:

  1. Primarily self-paced online activities
  2. Engaged in one pathway
  3. Engaged in Digital Youth Network activities
  4. Engaged in STEAM activities (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math, CSOL specific categories), often multiple activities


They found that the learners who were engaged in self-paced learning acitivities online were often the first to ‘drop off’ in terms of engagement, and that learners following a single pathway tended to drop off after the completion of that pathway without engaging in others. The learners who were engaged in multiple activities across STEAM or CSOL themes had the slowest drop-off rate, remaining engaged for the duration of the summer learning program.

All the youth participating in the Chicago Summer of Learning (theoretically) had access to the same resources, so these differences were interesting. The primary differences between learners were the mentors and community support they had during the summer, raising questions that led to Ugochi’s presentation on access and equity.

Access was defined in this case as being about who could get the materials on offer to learners, and equity was about the activities being appropriate or interesting to the learners they’re aimed at, and making sure there ware opportunities that represented all areas of interest.

As mentioned above, all learners should have had access to the same resources. However, as others in the group were quick to point out, there was a technology-access barrier for many participants in the Chicago Summer of Learning. For those without immediate access to a computer or the Internet, the many online activities being offered became harder to reach.

To read the full discussion, check out the etherpad notes, and listen to the audio recording by clicking on the link at the top of this blog post. Ugochi’s presentation slides are available here.

February 27, 2014 08:26 PM

Open Badges Community Call, Feb. 26, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, Feb. 26, 2014:



This week we were joined on the Community Call by Nancy Latimer, who works at Mountain Lakes High School in New Jersey, which has recently started an “Online Academy” where students can take free online courses (such as those offered via MOOCs or OER) and earn digital badges.

Mountain Lakes Online Academy Badges

Students participating in the Online Academy search for learning experiences via MOOC providers and other courses of extra- or co-curricular education, then present a “demonstration of learning” in order to earn badges as recognition of course completion. There were eight students who took part in the first semester of the Academy, exploring various different subject areas, including poetry, algorithms, philosophy, foreign languages, medical neuroscience and international development.

The badges earned in the Academy were not representative of academic credit, which Nancy found the students were supportive of, with some even voicing a preference for the badges being non-credit learning offerings. This was an interesting result, as many of our community members who have used badges in education have found that obtaining academic credit is often a goal of a new badge system, an indicator of external recognition or value of the badges.

Even though the badges were not related to academic credit, Nancy ensured the badge activities and criteria were robust. "One of my biggest concerns about digital badges is the evidence, [and] not making this lightweight," she told the group. In creating badges for non-credit learning that still ‘mean something,’ Nancy had to find a way to make sure the evidence for each badge was strong but that the badges didn’t become "to-do lists" for students that already had lists of course requirements, portfolios etc. to complete for credit towards graduation.

The Online Academy at Mountain Lakes High School is geared towards encouraging and supporting students who are suited to self-directed learning. Nancy connects with students’ guidance counselors before enrolling them, to make sure they will benefit from this type of independent learning experience.

Moving forward, Nancy will be looking to expand the Academy to more students and to look at various nationally-recognized standards to help craft strong criteria for the badges. Many community members on the call offered suggestions for this - to add your own, check out the etherpad notes.

For more information on the Online Academy, visit the website:

You can also check out this example of an Online Academy Certificate and an Online Academy Evidence of Learning Document to see how Nancy has structured the criteria and evidence components of the Academy.

Next week:

Join us next week to hear from Jess Klein and Willow Brugh talk about their work on Community Aid Badging at MozFest, and Jennifer Jones, who will be talking about her research on badges for the Digital Commonwealth Project.


February 27, 2014 08:23 PM

February 26, 2014

Emily Goligoski

Reflecting on Research Wins


As our Mozilla team prepares for SXSWEdu and the Digital Media & Learning conference next week, we’ve been deep in usability testing for BadgeKit. This software toolstack is intended to improve the issuing, visual design, and assessment of digital open badges. We’re focusing user testing on two core audiences:

Testing with these audiences has involved lots of in-person reviews of the BadgeKit staging site. In recent weeks, we heard a few complaints about the site menu, which we tried to indicate with the “hamburger” icon you see at top. Some people thought it didn’t suggest a set of options to them. Others complained about the placement, which we had placed on the left side of the site navigation. We noticed enough feedback on this particular design choice that our designer Matthew Willse reimagined a more evident set of menu options. We’re grateful to the people who gave us this valuable information, and I’m lovingly calling them “Hamburglars.” The feedback on the change has been positive (read: many people haven’t gotten stuck trying to figure out where they might go next). This has freed them up to tell us about other things they’ve bumped up against, including language choices, which we’ll be tackling next.

This listening work is very important as we look to help badges have real impact in more earners’ lives. It’s related to the pursuit of larger reach that Frank Catalano described in a thoughtful piece in EdSurge this week. Do read it, and share your thoughts.

Thanks for this unique bottom visual goes to the Perth-based motorcycle team that created it.

February 26, 2014 03:22 AM

February 25, 2014

Open Badges blog

Frank Catalano | Digital Badges Need Mass to Matter

Frank Catalano | Digital Badges Need Mass to Matter:

One of our regular community contributors Frank Catalano published this column on EdSurge today, raising the important question about what gives open badges their value with a good dose of skepticism to keep us all on our toes.

It’s been an exciting start to 2014 for Open Badges, and at the recent Summit to Reconnect Learning, the Twittersphere was flooded with news of high-profile commitments from organizations such as ETS, edX,, and Pearson to integrate badges alongside our growing community of independent badge issuers.

We are often asked about the value of open badges, and there are many factors that impact badge value: issuer reputation, quality of criteria, type of evidence submitted…..but ultimately, as we’ve heard time and time again from those in our badge issuing community, if there is no market need for badges, they lose value and a badge system can’t grow or truly serve those participating in it. Badges are a great way to recognize skills and achievements, but if there’s no-one to recognize the badges, what are they worth?

Frank captures this in his column, where he iterates that “badges, to truly take off and make the best use of their portable, verifiable and stackable qualities, need to be valuable to a third party. They need mass.” (Our italics.)

Read the column in its entirety here.

You can follow Frank on Twitter at @FrankCatalano

February 25, 2014 06:42 PM

February 21, 2014

Open Badges blog

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [29]

Welcome to the [almost] weekend!

Pushing forward with the momentum of last week’s Summit to Reconnect Learning, we’ve been sharing details of the new Badge Alliance, announced at the Summit as an independent network that will oversee the growth of the open badge ecosystem. Read reflections from the Summit here, and more about the Alliance here. For more information on the commitments pledged at the Summit, go to the Mozilla blog.

Here’s a quick run-down of what else has been happening in the past week or so (just in case we missed a few things with the Summit last week):

A quick thank you to everyone who applied for the Technical Writer position, which has now been filled. We are still looking for a new visual designer, however - so if you or someone you know might fit, let us know!

Also - don’t forget to join us on Monday for the second session of the 2014 Open Badges MOOC offerings, on Assessment Strategies for Effective Badge Systems.

February 21, 2014 05:46 PM

Moving Forward: The Badge Alliance

Last week, we shared the exciting news and announcements coming out of the Summit to Reconnect Learning, including new commitments from major players in education, workforce development and community engagement, nine new Cities of Learning, and the forming of the Badge Alliance, to be led by our fearless badges leader, Erin Knight.

Erin wrote a blog post on her thoughts about the Badge Alliance as “the natural and necessary evolution of the badging work” and reflected on her role up to and beyond this announcement:

The Badge Alliance will operate through working groups that are facilitated by the Alliance team. This isn’t really new - as evidenced by the 300 people who showed up to the Summit to work through key issues - this is how we’ve been working already. The Badge Alliance will just layer in more intentionality, accountability and support.

I may be taking a leadership role in the Alliance, but this is way bigger than me. Just as the Alliance is a network of organizations building the ecosystem, it needs those organizations to help shape it. It’s incredibly exciting to me that a number of organizations have already stepped up as founding members:

It’s an exciting time for badges: the high energy and excitement of the Summit is now propelling us forward to continue the amazing work being done both within Mozilla and beyond in the global community that we’ve built.

Many important voices in that community can be seen in the above photo, where the founding members of the Badge Alliance stood behind Erin at the Summit. One of those members is Blackboard, who publicly announced their commitment to the Alliance yesterday, citing badges as the “key enabler of competency-based learning and approaches that empower learners.” Blackboard will be joining Mozilla, HASTAC, the MacArthur Foundation, and Summit organizers the Sprout Fund, as well as other leaders in learning to shape the future of open badges and to grow, sustain and promote the global badges ecosystem.

Erin has led the open badges movement from its inception in the “Badge Lab” at the 2010 Mozilla Festival in Barcelona, where a 15-person working group started the conversations that would lead to a movement that has gathered support from educators, technologists, community leaders and strategists from around the globe.

Now, the movement has grown bigger than one organization. The Badge Alliance will better reflect the organic development of working groups we’ve already seen in our community, and will give them the freedom to work on their projects with clear direction and purpose. Most importantly, as Erin highlighted in her blog post, the Badge Alliance will be a valuable resource - not only for those who were at the table from the beginning, but also for those who joined us along the way and those still to come - so we can share our good ideas, and build on them to make great ones:

We really need this. The badges work relies on a robust ecosystem and while there are many many folks playing in the space, we aren’t leveraging each other enough. We aren’t sharing enough. We aren’t building a knowledge base. We aren’t moving the ball forward as quickly as we could. And that’s not because we don’t want to. It’s not your job. You each need the space to do your work, your slice, with your agenda, timeline and perspectives. Someone else needs to help connect the dots, set overarching goals, drive the conversations that need to happen. Well, now that’s my job :)

So I am just thrilled. This is going to be fun!

We’re thrilled too - and we can’t wait to see how the Alliance work will support all our community’s efforts. To sign up and show your interest in any of the initial working groups that are important to you, go to

Stay tuned for ongoing updates here, on Erin’s blog or on Twitter.

February 21, 2014 03:54 PM

February 20, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Community Call, Feb. 19, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, Feb. 19, 2014:



This week’s Community Call featured presentations from the founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) on their badging initiative, and from Josh Finkel, who is looking to develop a badge-based summer learning program to train kids for tech jobs with the Tech Foundry.

Badges for Museums

Elizabeth Merritt became increasingly interested in digital badges over the past two years while working in her role as director of the CFM, which is part of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

The AAM serves museums across the US, ranging from zoos to traditional museums to technology centers. With a field that wide-ranging, it can be hard to offer training programs that effectively serve all they need to reach. The AAM has a 40-year history of accrediting organizations, but found around a quarter million people were left without professional development and credentialing opportunities in the field. Elizabeth was drawn to micro-credentialing for recognizing non-formal, diverse forms of learning at such a large scale as she needed, and suggested the Center for the Future of Museums as a good place to demo a new system.

Elizabeth created a four-stage class on the process of scanning and strategic foresight, providing material in bite sized chunks and framing it in a transparent system that gave both learners and instructors flexibility and the ability to recognize the skills being developed.

Something Elizabeth found in the pilot program was that the American Alliance of Museums’ reputation gave the badges credibility to both learners and consumers more than the details of the assignments completed. This is interesting to those building badge systems within organizations with strong trust networks, who want to ensure the badge content is valued as well as the issuing organization.

One of the biggest take-aways for Elizabeth was in how much she found out about how the testers perceived badges and what they wanted from them. Many of the testers were just as concerned with community aspects as with instruction, wanting a way to interact with fellow learners. If the program continues with further developments, Elizabeth hopes to find a way to incorporate features that could help create that kind of community.

Check out the etherpad notes to read the full discussion from yesterday’s call, or see Elizabeth’s presentation for more info.

Training Kids for Tech Jobs

Josh Finkel works at the Tech Foundry, where they are planning to create a summer curriculum for kids that are going into their senior year in high school. The program would integrate soft skills and technical skills development for a learning period of 6-7 weeks, and the hope is to offer badges for the skills learned in the program. Josh joined the Community Call to share his thoughts on how this might work and to ask for feedback from the group.

The Tech Foundry works with IT experts to address issues of employability and workforce skills development. The issues facing the IT sector, as we’ve seen in other fields, include the ‘skills gap’, outdated education methods, and the proclivity of youth to consume, rather than create, when it comes to technology. To help combat this, the Tech Foundry is looking to create partnerships with regional high schools to help train kids in technical and soft skills to help them find IT jobs post-graduation.

The goal for their summer training program is to create a work-to-learn environment rather than traditional teaching environment, modeling a more realistic work environment where learners are evaluated on the soft skills and character traits they will be developing.

To find out more, check out Josh’s presentation and read the full discussion notes.

Next week:

Join us next week, when we’ll be joined by Nancy Latimer from Mountain Lakes High School in New Jersey, who will be sharing her work on developing badges for the Mountain Lakes online academy offering free online courses.

February 20, 2014 08:48 PM

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, Feb. 19, 2014

Open Badges Research & Badge System Design Call, Feb. 19, 2014:


Speakers: Flavio Escribano + Jordi Moretón; Chloe Varelidi + Lucas Blair

This week we kicked off the Research & Badge System Design Call with a discussion around Badge Rank and Badge Score as part of a project being developed in Europe. Then our own Chloe Varelidi presented some of the work she’s been doing with Lucas Blair on the Open Badges Discovery project.


Following the kickoff of the BadgeCulture project, Flavio and Jordi asked themselves: What is an Open Badge worth? Starting with this question, they wrote a blog 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:

In their work on education and environmental research, Flavio and Jordi identified two problems facing their communities:

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:

  • BadgeRank indicates the intrinsic value of badges;
  • BadgeScore 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.

It’s great to see our international community members working on these issues of badge rank and score - questions the Open Badges team have been tackling - and we look forward to continuing this work. If you are interested in joining the conversation, check out the etherpad notes, Flavio and Jordi’s presentation, or join the conversation in the Google Group.


The problems Flavio and Jordi identified are not specific to European communities; as Chloe and Lucas found, employers are stuggling to find the right candidates for job openings or assess the full spectrum of a candidate’s capabilities, including non-cognitive skills. Learners are struggling with not knowing what career opportunities are out there, and those without access or exposure to resources and opportunities are unknowingly limiting themselves.

By building badge pathways tools, there will be increasing ways to connect these groups with the resources, candidates and opportunities they need. On top of these connections, pathways can also identify cross-career competencies, motivate learners to explore things they wouldn’t have known about, and identify role models of professionals and peers. Pathways can also act as a data collection tool for gauging learners’ interests, identifying gaps and suggesting content to fill them.

They compared top industries from three perspectives - economic, learning and employment - in order to see overlapping interests in industries employers identified as ones that would highly benefit from badges pathways:

The first industry, Sales + Retail, ranked highly from an economic perspective and allows for a low entry point (60% of jobs require no more than a high school diploma) but ranked lower from the perspectives of learners and employers. Healthcare, however, ranked highly with employers who might value badges as part of the hiring process, and Technology ranked highly with learners looking to develop skills and find jobs, as well as employers looking to assess potential candidates.

To find out more and contribute to the conversation, check out the etherpad notes, check out Chloe and Lucas’ presentation, or start a discussion in our Google Group.

February 20, 2014 07:47 PM

February 19, 2014

Daniel Sinker

OpenNews: Announcing Source Jobs

As journalism continues to break new ground on the web, news organizations large and small are hiring developers, designers, and others who bring new skills and ideas to journalism. Growing the community of talented developers working in news is one of the things we try to do at OpenNews. Our Fellowship program, our sponsorship of hack days, our website Source—it’s all part of trying to build the community of folks coding in news. Today we’re taking a very direct path to that: We’re launching a new section on Source that will list the latest journalism-code jobs.

Source is designed (from the database up) around the people building journalism on the web. Jobs is a natural compliment to the project breakdowns, behind-the-scenes articles, Q&As, and learning pieces that we feature on Source: you can learn how it’s done, and then you can go and do it in some of the best newsrooms around the world.

The listings are lightweight: a one-sentence job descriptions and a link to the full listing on an external site. They’re also self-serve. Today we’ve also opened up an organizational backend on Source so news orgs can list their own jobs. Erin Kissane explains how to get the keys to your organization page on the official announcement.

This is an exciting time for journalism and an exciting time to code in news. We’re thrilled to be able to play a small part in helping to bring talent into newsrooms. And we can’t wait to see the code all these new jobs produce!

Source Jobs is the first of many new features to come on Source, all possible thanks to our renewed grant that puts additional emphasis on community building and Source in particular. Expect much more to come soon—including dates and a location for the SRCCON conference, which we’ll be announcing at the NICAR conference next week.

February 19, 2014 03:49 PM

Open Badges blog

#SRL14 - A Week of Reflection, Collaboration, & Momentum for Open Badges

What a week it was last week for Open Badges! Members of the team are fresh off the powerhouse Open Badges Summit to Reconnect Learning in Redwood City, California, where more than 300 visionaries from organizations of all kinds were in attendance to help chart a path toward the future of connected learning with Open Badges. The energy was high, the presentations were enlightening, the conversations were plentiful, and the announcements were huge.

Just under four years ago, the Open Badges project was born from a small working group at the Mozilla Festival. Since then, Open Badges has expanded beyond just a small project. 

It’s now a movement that presents the most potential for change, but also the most complexity to navigate to reach that change.

Mark Surman, Mozilla’s Executive Director, said, “The success of the open badges work requires coordinated efforts by not just many organizations but many organizations of many kinds - formal institutions, nonprofits, funders, cultural institutions,  networks, cities, corporations, policy makers. And it doesn’t stop there, but requires coordination within and across sectors, states, even countries.” 
With this Mozilla’s own Erin Knight, Senior Director of Learning & Badges, announced the soft launch of a new Badge Alliance, one that will serve as an independent entity whose primary focus is grow, sustain and further promote an open badging ecosystem. But the best part is? In just a matter of a few days, over 15 organizations have signed up to be founding members of the new Alliance, including Pearson, Blackboard, HASTAC, Digital Promise, Digital Youth Network and much more. You can read more about the Badge Alliance on Erin’s blog.

In addition, we announced the Cities of Learning initiative, in which we will team up with Digital Youth Network, Achievery and other organizations build and deliver foundational badging tools and shared pathways, called the Cities of Learning Tech Package, to make it easy for cities to create and implement a fully functioning badge system that is tailored to each city’s unique needs.

We hosted a Make Zone, in which a variety organizations lead hands-on activities to design badges, create learning pathways, scaffold badge systems, and more. 

And lastly, but surely not least, we closed the two days by announcing seven organizations who have pledged their commitment to working with Open Badges within their communities. 

After taking a few days to reflect on last week, it’s clear that open badges are a promising new way to reconnect learning to the demands and possibilities of our times.  But the work doesn’t stop here. We have a huge road ahead of us, but one that is complete with an amazingly talented community focused on finding a sustainable way to reconnect learning.


If you missed the Summit in person, or want to relive the excitement again, check out the video recordings of the summit here.

February 19, 2014 03:49 PM

February 18, 2014

Open Badges blog

Open Badges Community Call, Feb. 12, 2014

Open Badges Community Call, Feb. 12, 2014:



While most of the team were at the Summit to Reconnect Learning last week, our Global Coordinator Jade managed to sneak away for the Community Call. Kyle Peck, who led the Penn State badging initiative, was scheduled to speak on the call but was instead at the Summit. His colleagues spoke in his place, sharing a glimpse into the Lifelong Learning Landscape (L3) digital badging platform Peck and his team developed.

Badging the Lifelong Learning Landscape at Penn State

Chris Gamrat is an instructional designer at Penn State and principal investigator for the Lifelong Learning Landscape (L3), a digital badging platform for the university funded by the new “Center for Online Innovation in Learning" (COIL). His team is working on a project that is a collaboration between the College of Education, the Alumni Career Services, Continuing Education, and the Teaching and Learning with Technology Group that would create a broad-based badging system for non-credit topics.

Chris and his colleagues have been working on L3 for just over a year, modeling it after the NASA/NSTA “Teacher Learning Journeys" (TLJ) project Penn State produced for STEM teachers.

Teacher Learning Journeys was designed as a platform for open independent teacher professional development, allowing them to engage with content that interested them and progress at their own pace. Around 100 teachers used TLJ during the funded period, and gave Kyle ,Chris and their team a look at how professional learners were using their badges, particularly for goal setting and execution, and a way of tracking progress.

In the fall of 2012, the team began to look at how to expand this platform across the university, and built a basic framework to support badge building and issuing, as well as giving users the option to browse a badge library and add badges they wish to obtain to a queue for later reference.

From this basic framework, the team worked with a number of different users over the past year and are now looking ahead, exploring how they might provide a flexible open system to capture all kinds of learning among professional learners at Penn State. They are working with Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) groups who have experience determining the value and academic credit due for previous education, experiences, and/or jobs. The team see badges as a way to expand PLA by recognizing more learning, making formal education accessible to more people, while reducing the cost and time invested in further education.

Next steps for the L3 badging system include the development of social components, which would allow users to recommend badges based on their learning pathway (tasks completed) or their networks (people they know). They are also working towards providing badge analytics, giving users the ability to see badges others have earned and/or recommended and then add relevant badges to their queue to complete at their own pace.

For a demo of the Penn State L3 badging platform, email Kyle Peck at

To read their white paper on badges in higher ed, click here:

Next Week:

Join us tomorrow for our next Community Call, with Elizabeth Merritt joining us to talk about the badges being deployed by the Center for the Future of Museums. We’ll also hear from Josh Finkel of Tech Foundry (formerly Valley Outreach Technology) to talk about their goals to develop a soft skills and technical skills curriculum for an intensive summer learning program.

February 18, 2014 10:09 PM