Towards a System of Open Badges for Teachers & Technology Use

Towards a System of Open Badges for Teachers & Technology Use

TL;DR version: This blog post shares feedback from a meeting to discuss open badge systems and my thoughts & reflections as we develop our own open badge system.

We’ve been undergoing a long process of investigating the possibility of developing and implementing an open badging system for use in some of programs here at the university. This process has taken almost a year as I’ve spent a lot of time reading, contextualizing, and discussing the affordances of these tools with colleagues here in the Department…and globally. If we do proceed with a badging system, I wanted to make sure it would be valued by issuers, and students receiving the badges.

At this point I’m working with a group of incredible graduate students on a literature review and ultimate development of an open badging system for pre-service and veteran teachers that are using technology in teaching and learning. We should soon have some drafts of our work that we’ll share publicly for review. The purpose of this blog post is to share information about a conference call I had with Doug Belshaw from Mozilla, and James Walker and Zach Smith from LPVEC and the MA NLI. Please understand this post is a consolidation of posts and work that has been conducted over a series of months. We’ll also post more materials, and reflections as we continue. What follows is a cobbled mess of my notes, and thinking about the meeting.

What is a badge?


Image CC by Kyle Bowen

A badge is really a graphic with a ton of “metadata” behind it. It’s a graphical representation of some collection of knowledge, skills, dispositions, or competencies that have been determined by the issuers. In the badging system that we’re developing, the badges are being developed by a group of graduate students and two faculty members. The issuers of these badges will ultimately be a group of faculty from the university.

The real power in the badge is in the metadata associated with it. It is a series of links and data that indicates what the badge is for, what criteria were used to award the badge, and any standards associated with the badge. I am anticipating connecting the badges that we create to the new Web Literacy standards being developed by Mozilla, and the ISTE.NETS Standards. This will add in some credibility to the badges that are issued.

Badges are awarded as a way to use a layer of technology and a layer of social media to document learning by an individual. After our team identifies and develops the series of badges, these will be reviewed and edited by faculty in the department. As a result we will need a certain level of “granularity” before beginning to award them to students. In plain speak, it needs to be crystal clear as to what the badges mean, and how people can earn them. Doug provided us with this template which was developed by digitalME to use as develop the individual badges.

Finally, I believe that our group will develop a series of badges that interlock, or work together and complete a “metalevel” of accomplishment….sort of like filling in a pie from Trivial Pursuit.

How do people earn badges?

My thinking at the conclusion of the talk with Doug was that individuals in our program would need to “pledge” for a badge as a pathway to a goal, or to identify an accomplishment. So we would need some formal announcement from a student that they are working toward earning a badge, or that they believe they have conducted work that would earn them a badge. After they have completed the requirements for the badge, a review process would be conducted to see if they earned the badge. My initial thought process is that this will consist of a self-review, a peer-review, and an assessment by experts. The review by experts could consist of a small panel of people from the university, or the community. In many ways this would resemble an outside review during my dissertation.

Once the badges are awarded, they can be shared publicly, or left private. My hope is that students would share them on their websites, visualCVs, social networks, etc. These badges could be clicked on and indicate the issuing body, and all of the metadata associated with the badge.

There are many other factors associated with the development and awarding of our open badge system. As we dig in further to the minutia of making this as granular as possible, we’ll be sure to share everything here…and online.


Image CC by Wikimedia Commons

3 Comments Towards a System of Open Badges for Teachers & Technology Use

  1. Pingback: Notes as We Frame an Open Badge Initiative for Teachers Using Technology

  2. Pingback: Open Badges Initiatives and Teacher Preparation Programs

  3. Pingback: Continued Exploration and Development of Digital Badges

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