policy blopost

Policy Recommendations for Open Badges

We have just published the first discussion paper on policy recommendations for establishing Open Badges in Europe as part of the Erasmus+ strategic partnership “Open Badge Network”: http://www.openbadgenetwork.com, which brings together organisations from across Europe to support the development of an Open Badge ecosystem, promoting the use of Open Badges to recognise non-formal and informal learning.

The policy discussion paper is a contribution of the Open Badge Network to the ongoing debate on potentials and challenges of Open Badges, especially in their use as digital credentials.

The paper provides policy-makers with an overview of the basic principles, concepts and applications of Open Badges as instruments of digital credentialing, with the results of the first targeted analysis of potentials and challenges of using Open Badges as digital credentials from the perspective of policy-makers in different European countries and formulates some first actionable recommendations for developing, implementing and evaluating digital credentialing policies, strategies and action plans.

The paper includes results of policy recommendations research conducted in the Open Badge Network project with the aim of eliciting the opinions of policy makers about Open Badges in view of digital credentialing. This research includes:

  • Results of the European Policy Online Survey with selected European policy makers
  • Results of the Germany Policy Online Survey focusing on establishing Open Badges at policy levels in Germany
  • Results of the European Commission Policy Consultations in Brussels
  • Results of the Europass Working Group on Innovation Consultations
  • Results of the PIAAC Consultations (PIAAC = Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies).

We have opened a forum on the Open Badge Network portal and invite comments and feedback on the policy paper. For our project it is a preliminary policy document in the charting out the main directions for the follow-up White Paper on Open Badges Policies. So the feedback from the Community is very valuable to us!

We are looking forward to discussions about possible directions for establishing Open Badges as policy levels in Europe and beyond!

Suggested citation: Buchem, Ilona; van den Broek, Erik & Lloyd, Nigel (2016). Discussion Paper on Open Badges at Policy Levels (Open Badge Network, Erasmus+). URL: http://www.openbadgenetwork.com/outputs/policy-levels


Experiment Open Badges

Last week I gave a keynote on Open Badges at the #JFMH2016 at TU Darmstadt. The title of my keynote was:

Experiment “Open Badges” – potentials and challenges of digital verification of competences in higher education.

Based on the concept of “experiment with a society as a lab” from the field of media sociology, the starting point for my keynote was the thesis that Open Badges like many other novel, digital technologies, are applied directly in educational contexts without prior examination of their potentials and risks. Most of the times digital learning technologies and concepts, such as Open Badges, cannot be validated in controlled settings of a research lab, but are first applied in real-life educational settings and validated only later through experimentation which takes place in a regular course of affairs, within existing organisational structures and processes and involving students, teachers and other subjects.  Also, following the idea of mode 2 of knowledge production by Gibbons et al. (1994), the knowledge about the potentials and risks of novel technologies emerges as a result of an interdisciplinary, connected, open and cross-context interactions of persons involved in such experiments. This is also the case with Open Badges and the knowledge about the possibilities as well as effects of their application being created not only within one (educational) organisation but across diverse and globally distributed communities.

While applying novel technologies and concepts, such as Open Badges, it is important to keep in mind that the effects of experimentation are not always predictable and may have both positive and/or negative effects on the subjects involved. Reflecting the knowledge created following the principles of mode 2 by Gibbons at al. (1994) and taking responsibility for the design and implementation of Open Badges and other novel technologies in (higher) education is connected to a number of ethical and legal questions, some of which have been addressed by Willis, Quick & Hickey (2015).

Here is the link to my slides on SlideShare (slides are in German):



Open Badges – the missing link?

My keynote at the #RIDE2016 research conference – Research and Innovation in Distance Education and E-Learning, at the Centre for Distance Education, which took place on Friday 11 March 2016 at Senate House, University of London, focused on Open Badges as the missing link in Open Education.

My aim was to view Mozilla Open Badges in a wider context of Open Education and this again in a yet wider context of the Open Movement, which started with the Open Source concept towards the end of the 1990ies. The open source movement is directly linked to Mozilla, created as a free-software community by members of Netscape, who publicly released the source code of the Netscape Communicator in 1998. Open Badges are one of the key initiatives and concepts of the Open Movement and of Open Education given their dedication and mission to explore new ways of open credentialing and accreditation for all types of learning (Knight & Casilli, 2012).

So, what is “a missing link” in this context? Given the yet evolving nature of the OB concept and standard, I have chosen the following definition to discuss where we are at with Open Badges and how the future may look like:

“A missing link would possess the “in-between” evolutionary properties of both the ancestors’ original traits and the traits of the evolved descendants, hence showing a clear connection between the two.” (Melina, 2010)

It seems to me that the current version of open credentialing as enabled by Mozilla Open Badges, is at an intermediate stage, somewhere “in-between”, in a longer evolutionary process of credentialing practices.

With a growing number of new ideas about technological enhancements of Open Badges and applications of Open Badges disrupting traditional credentialing, it will be interesting to observe what the next incarnations of Open Credentialing may look like and what the drivers will be. Will it be the big data research and the need to provide meaningful metrics to different stakeholders including learners, educational organisations, employers and educational policy makers? Will it be the critical pedagogy endorsing human ability to think critically about own education? Or will it be the employability approach reflecting the need for new career concepts? Given the different possible influences, it is important to discuss the underlying framework of values which can/should drive the future open credentialing practices.

Here is the link to my presentation “Open Badges – The Missing Link in Open Education”


➤ Carla Casilli & Daniel Hickey (2016) Transcending conventional credentialing and assessment paradigms with information-rich digital badges, The Information Society, 32:2, 117-129.
➤ Casilli, C. (2013). Badge pathways. Retrieved from https://carlacasilli.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/ badge-pathways-part-1-the-paraquel
➤ Broekman, P., Hall, G., Byfield, T., Hides S. & Worthington, S. (2014). Open Education. A Study in Disruption. Rowman & Littlefield International, Series: Disruptions.
➤ Ito, M., K. Gutierrez, S. Livingstone, B. Penuel, J. Rhodes, K. Salen, J. Schor, J. Sefton-Green & Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://www.dmlhub.net/publications
➤ Klein, J. (2013). Design feedback for badge systems. Jess Klein. Retrieved from http:// jessicaklein.blogspot.com/2013/01/design-feedback-for-badge-systems.html
➤ Melina, R. (2010). What’s the Missing Link? Livescience. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com
➤ Suber, P. (2013). Open access. MIT Press essential knowledge. Retrieved from https://mitpress.mit.edu
➤ Willis, J. E., Quick, J. & Hickey, D. T (2015). Digital Badges and Ethics: The Uses of Individual Learning Data in Social Contexts. In: D. Hickey, J. Jovanovic, S. Lonn, J.E. Willis, III (eds.): Proceedings of the Open Badges in Education (OBIE 2015). New York, USA. Retrieved from http://ceur-ws.org
➤ Young, J. R. (2012). Badges Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-7. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Badges-Earned-Online- Pose/130241/

Open Badge Network

Open Badge Network (OBN) held its second multiplier event on 2nd December at Online Educa Berlin 2015 (OEB2015). Online Educa Berlin is the global, cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training. In December 2015, over 2,000 participants travelled from more than 90 countries for three days of discussions, debates, labs, demos and special events, to network with international experts and to meet with suppliers and service providers from all over the world in the OEB exhibition.

The OBN multiplier event was a full day pre-conference workshop (see: session FD4) dedicated to Open Badges for Individuals and Organisations. The workshop was organised by Ilona Buchem (Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin) and Michal Nowakowski (Institute of Sustainible Technologies – National Research Institute, Poland).

You will find the full blogpost at the website of Open Badge Network.
You can find the slides from OEB2015 in SlideShare:
Open Badges for Individuals and Organisations from Ilona Buchem


Open Badges – DACH Communities and Events

Open Badges are beginning to gain momentum in Europe. We are just starting to grow our Open Badges DACH Usergroup (OB-DACH) for DACH countries (Germany D, Austria A, Switzerland CH) inspired by the Open Badges ANZ Usergroup for Australia and New Zealand (OB-ANZ).

I would like to invite you to join our Google+ DACH Community and connect with us on Twitter – @DACHbadges.

For all German-speaking users of Open Badges there is also the German Badge Design Canvas.

The original canvas has been developed by DigitalMe in UK to guide the design process of Open Badges.

Here are some of the upcoming events on Open Badges in Germany:

Here is the Open Badge for the participants of the “Open Badges for Open Education” workshop on 7th September 2015 in Berlin:


I am looking forward to community building and connecting with Open Badges practitioners and researchers!


Digital Badges / Open Badges Taxonomy

Working on the taxonomy of digital badges / open badges is an interesting empirical and conceptual endeavour. I have been looking into different types of badges as part of the “Discussion Paper on Open Badges and Quality Assurance” on which I have been recently working in context of the European Project “Badge Europe” (Erasmus+, Strategic Partnership). Before the first draft of the discussion paper will be open to public for comments and edits, I would like to share the first draft of the taxonomy of digital and open badges. I have proposed a classification based on three categories – (1) content-related: what the badge represents, (2) issuer-related: who issues the badge, and (3) process-related: how the badge was achieved.

This is just a first attempt and I would be very glad to get your feedback on this. Thank you to the authors who inspired my work in this area – Carla Casilli, Hans PoldojaGrant MacDonald (follow the links to find out more about their typologies), and Nigel Lloyd who is working with us on the “Badge Europe” project.

So here is the first list ready for your comments, extensions and examples in this Google Table!

This taxonomy with examples from practice can be also viewed in SlideShare:


1 Content-related categories (what the badge represents)
1.1 Achievement badges (demonstration of achievements)
1.2 Competence badges (demonstration of knowledge, skills, competence).
1.3 Potential badges (indicators of future performance)
1.4 Participation badges (evidence of participation, e.g. events)
1.5 Membership badges (represents membership, e.g. club)
1.6 Commitment badges (attitudes, values, beliefs)
1.7 Encouragement badges (good work stamps)

2 Issuer-related categories (who issued the badge)
2.1 Organisational badges (issued by university, employer)
2.2 Team badges (issued by teams, groups)
2.3 Expert badges (issued by an expert)
2.4 Social badges (issued by peers, communities)
2.5 Endorser badge (endorsed by an organisation, expert etc.)

3 Process-related categories (how the badge was achieved)
3.1 Activity badges (based on single measurable learning activity)
3.2 Mission badges (based on a series of activities)
3.3 Assignment badges (based on completing a single assignment)
3.4 Composite badges (achieved by completing multiple assignments)
3.5 Progress badges (based on the progress on a given task)
3.6 Grade badges (based on formal grades)
3.7 Level badges (based on several levels)

Mobile Learning and Open Badges

I have been invited to give a presentation on Mobile Learning and Open Badges at the Mobile Learning Day X(tended) 2014 at Fernuni Hagen (Germany). It has been a good impulse to start thinking about how open badges can be used in mobile learning scenarios and whether there is any difference to non-mobile uses and platforms. Will there be anything like a mobile badge in the future? Or are open badges already mobile because the very OBI infrastructure enables to issue and display badges across systems, contexts and people? During the Mozilla Festival 2014 event of our new EU project on open badges – Badge Europe – we have discussed future visions and scenarios on open badges and the idea of a digital badge card, similar to the electronic ticketing such as oyster card, emerged from this discussion. The idea is that one day we could have a digital card with different digital artefacts on it, including badges, we we could sweep at terminals to convert badges to something different, be it an entrance to a workshop, a lecture, coaching or consulting. Yet again this idea considers the mobility of a badge based on its exchange across systems, contexts and people.

I wonder if the mobility of a badge could be also considered on a different level. Any thoughts on this?

Below are my slides (in German) on open badges and mobile learning, where I have given two examples of mobile communities (busuu & foodzy) which already apply badges, not open badges though.