How to use open badges workshop @ ALL DIGITAL Summit

How to use open badges workshop was held at ALL DIGITAL Summit on October 4th, 2017 in Barcelona by Doug Belshaw, education and tech consultant. Here we are sharing the workshop materials.

About the expert:

Doug works globally with people and organisations, helping them to use technology more productively. He is co-founder of We Are Open co-op, which focuses on spreading the culture, processes and benefits of working openly. Doug has had a varied career, working at the intersection of education, technology, and productivity. He was a history teacher and school leader, and then moved on to work with the Mozilla Foundation in the team developing the Open Badges concept.

What are Open Badges?

  • Electronic containers of information (there’s data inside each badge)
  • A credential for your skills/interest/participation at a given moment
  • Free and open
  • Stackable (you can have many complementary badges and you don’t need to achieve the final result to have a badge – you can have one at every step)
  • Transferable (you can move and display your badge wherever you want, the fact that the badge has been issued in one place doesn’t mean it has to stay there)

Each badge is rich in information. It has a name indicating what it is for, but it also contains links to the criteria for issuing it, the issuer, the date it was issued and the date it expires, and most importantly – the evidence. For example, if you have an open badge on public speaking, it should contain a link to a video of yourself speaking at a conference. Or if you have a badge for participating in an event, the badge can include a photo of the participants.

What are Open Badges for?

  • To put value to your experiences
  • To unlock new possibilities
  • For lifelong learning
  • For job opportunities
  • For professional development
  • For online learning
  • For job training

Who are Open Badges for?

Anyone can get or issue an open badge. You can also issue open badges to yourself. Badges can be issued for skills, interests (e.g. “Coop-curious” badge), membership (e.g. belonging to a group or organisation) or participation (e.g. in an event). 

Obviously, the most valued badges are issued by recognised institutions – education providers, afternoon classes, online training providers. The badge goes from the issuer to the recipient, who can choose to accepts it (or not) and display it through a displayer platform. The platform goes back to the issuer to verify the badge, and once verified, the badge can be used towards the “badge consumers”, i.e. (potential) employers or colleague admissions.

A list of recognised issuers can be found on the website under “Issuers”.

How to use Open Badges?

There can be different badge pathways:

  • You can get open badges in a way of stepping stones, where the achievement of each open badge is a prerequisite for getting to the next one on your way to achieve your final goal.
  • You can collect the different open badges in a non-sequential manner, but you have a list of open badges to collect to achieve the final goal.
  • You can get open badges in a way of constellation where each open badge is sufficient on its own and all of your open badges together build your skills profile.

Open badges can be used both for soft and hard skills. They complement your formal diplomas and certificates with your personal qualifications and capabilities, to create a fuller picture of your skills and competences. They show the skills you have developed at the works place, at home or by being a member of the local football team.

After this “theoretical” intro, participants in the workshop went on to create their first open badge and guess how – offline! Yes, answering to six questions, they got to think about open badges in concrete terms:

  • Earner (who are we issuing the open badge for)?
  • Issuer (who is issuing the open badge)?
  • Why should the earner want it (this answers also to the question how to market Open Badges to your target audience)?
  • What does the earner have to do to get the open badge (the criteria)?
  • What does the open badge look like (draw it!)?
  • Where next?

Participants had 20 mins to design their open badges alone or in groups, and present them to the others. Then Doug showed some online services and applications through which we can actually create open badges.

Where can you store and display your badges?

Mozilla still has the open badges backpack where you can store and display your badges free of charge, but there’s also the Finish company Discendum, which has developed an Open Badges passport.

If you want to issue an open badge, you can do that through the website of one of the issuers on or you can integrate the issuing system on your own website. During the workshop, Doug showed how to use Badgr, but there are other great badge issuing systems out there and he is happy to give advice on which would work best in your context (see his contact details below). Badgr is very easy to use and intuitive, so just go there and explore it! It allows you to create badge pathways and integrate the issuing system on your website.

Hardware / software / technology required?

Here is a list of those: As mentioned above, Badgr is recommended as one of the most suitable for beginners. Choosing the appropriate open badges service and software depends on your needs as different software have different functionalities. If you are a teacher and you want to issue open badges to your students, you would go for the software which allows you to upload directly a class list, for example.

How to market Open Badges to your target audience?

This really depends on the badges and on your target audience. For example, if you want to issue open badges to the members of an association, a motivation for them can be that if they get this badge (i.e. fulfil the criteria), they will get free access to some events.

How to train the trainer/ prepare staff?

If you want to train your staff on how to use open badges, this How to workshop summary is a good starting point. Then you can also direct them to this Online course on Open Badges: And another one soon to be updated:

Lessons learned/ tips and tricks

Some outstanding questions about Open Badges include their (lack of) popularity and how to ensure the quality. The quality of badges depends on the criteria defined and on trust and recognition. Their uptake depends on whether the different actors involved have trust and recognise them as valid credentials.

Mozilla Foundation invented open badges and now has transferred the standard to IMS Global Learning Consortium, who is managing the further development and enriching of the concept. IMS Global Learning watches over technology standards, mainly in education. They make sure that tech standards are developed properly and fairly. Why were open badges handed over to IMS Global Learning Consortium? Mozilla is a fast-moving innovation driven technology company. Open Badges are not the kind of thing that goes well with moving fast and creating profit. The uptake of Open Badges is a process – the more stakeholders are involved in the dialogue, the better.

At ALL DIGITAL, we are using open badges in our PATHWAYS4EMPLOY project to certify digital competences following an online assessment.

Where to find more information / good online resources

Have a look at the workshop presentation.

Most of the information about Open Badges is available on this website, so we advise you to start from there: This website tell you lots of stuff about open badges.

There is also a google group on Open Badges:!forum/openbadges

IMS Global learning consortium Open badges v2.0 is available here:

Badge news newsletter:

Badge wiki:

Get in touch with the expert: Twitter: @dajbelshaw / @WeAreOpenCoop 

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