Welcome to the world of Open Badges

May 1, 2013 by Paul McElvaney

Open BadgesThere’s some excitement in the Learning Pool office this week at the release of Open Badges functionality into Totara LMS and upcoming versions of Moodle.

We’ve been watching the development of Open Badges in the Mozilla foundation for some time and we can see some real opportunity for members of the community to take advantage of this new technology.

What is it?

In a nutshell, Mozilla’s Open Badges project aims to provide a technically smart, web savvy, open access framework whereby an organisation can offer tangible recognition to learners who demonstrate achievement in a given area.

There are tons of definitions of Open Badges out there . This one from the recent Pelecon conference in Plymouth made the most sense to me!

How do I use it?

So, after we get past the language barrier around badge issuers, ecosystems and backpacks – how do we actually use this stuff? The good news is that Moodle and Totara have just become the first LMS’ in the world to support this functionality, with Mozilla announcing version 1.0 of Badges just last month. 

What would I use it for?

We’ve been brainstorming this a little bit and see a few really obvious examples where this could be useful including:

  1. Customer service training for front line staff;
  2. Social workers and their continuing professional development (CPD);
  3. Professional development in areas like environmental health or regulatory services;
  4. Delivering quality and approved training to citizens and tenants social housing.

The challenges

Of course, simply because the functionality is available doesn’t make this a complete solution just yet. In order to make this workable we think badges need:

  1. Brand credibility – that’s why we’re talking to several accreditation bodies about how we can work with them to accredit badges to offer our customers;
  2. Content – this all comes back to content in the end and we think that what’s in the Learning Pool catalogue is just right for a project like this. Light, targeted, easy to update and ready to be delivered on a Moodle based platform;
  3. Engagement – we know that unless a project is well supported it’ll fail sooner rather than later. This is all the more evident with a badges based environment; 
  4. Browsers – that old chestnut! But it’s clear that the new functionality in Moodle 2.4 and Totara 2.4 is designed for modern browsers only – anyone with internet Explorer 6 and 7 is going to have an issue.

What next?

We’re busy testing the new functionality in Totara and Moodle and will plan a release of this functionality in the next few months.

In the meantime, if you have ideas about how you’d like to use Open Badges in your organisation, post them here for the rest of the Learning Pool community.

Keep your eyes open for an upcoming Learning Hour on this subject to find out more.


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  1. Posted May 1, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I’ve already been speaking to a county council that is interested in looking at this to issue badges for capabilities. Interested in hearing what other ideas people have.

  2. Posted May 7, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Hi Paul (and Sam),

    This is great news – don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help in any way!

    doug mozillafoundation org

  3. Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I like this – kinda like endorsing on LinkedIn but actually with some more robust substance behind it – or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

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