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The Badges Competition is now closed. Click here to view the winners.

Badges Competition: Call for Proposals

Badges for Lifelong Learning


Bringing together badge content and program providers, designers and technologists 

  • The "Badges for Lifelong Learning" Competition will gather leading organizations, learning and assessment specialists, designers and technologists to create and test working badge systems in the wild.
  • Together, competition participants will contribute to a robust badge ecosystem, where traditional and 21st century skills and achievements are inspired, recognized, translated across contexts, and displayed and managed across the web.
  • The result for learners: new learning and knowledge, real-world outcomes like jobs, credit for new skills and achievements, and whole new ways to level up in their life and work.

Collaborate with leaders in education, industry and government

  • Badges for Lifelong Learning competition collaborators include leading organizations exploring the potential of badges for their own work and programs.
  • These include NASA, the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, Intel, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Association of Manufacturers, Microsoft, and many others.
  • These organizations will provide real-world examples, content, programs, activities, and other learning resources for the competition, actively collaborating alongside select participants.
  • This is a unique opportunity for badge designers and technologists to work with some of the world's most innovative organizations, collaborate with other competition participants, or focus directly on their own project. 

Who should participate?

  • Organizations and groups with "badge friendly" content, programs, or activities.
  • Individuals or teams interested in advancing new approaches to learning.
  • Learning and assessment innovators interested in new ways of inspiring and recognizing learning across contexts. 
  • Designers interested in badges and sets of badges.
  • Developers and technologists with ideas around building systems or tools to support badges.

How to participate

There are two main ways to participate. Applicants can submit:

  1. Badge Content and Programs - proposals focused on learning content, programs, and activities that present an opportunity for badges and badge systems. These applicants will submit to Stage One (see below).
  2. Badge Design and Tech - proposals focused on badge or badge system design and the supporting technology that makes them work. These applicants will submit to Stage Two (see below).

NOTE: Applicants can submit proposals in a single category, or in both. 

Competition Process 

The competition has three stages: 1) Content and Programs; 2) Design and Tech; 3) Match-making and Finals

A flowchart depicting the Badges for Lifelong Learning DML Competition process.  Stage 1 is depicted by a light bulb and notebook with writing on it. Stage 2 applicants will develop and implement the winning content and program ideas from Stage 1. Stage 2 is depicted by symbols of creative design work and implementation. Winners from Stage 1 and Stage 2 are then paired into teams for Stage 3; the winners will be picked from among the Stage 3 teams.

Stage One: Content and Programs

  • In this stage, applicants and collaborators will submit content, programs, or activities that are "badge friendly" and that will align well with a badge or set of badges.
  • This can include a description of the badge opportunity, supporting content and curriculum, assessment criteria and any existing technology systems.
  • Proposals will be displayed online for public comment and assessed by an expert panel of judges.
  • Winning content from this stage will feed into the stages that follow.

Stage Two: Design and Tech

  • In this stage, applicants will submit design, technology, or early prototypes for badging systems.
  • These designs and implementations may draw from approved content or programs proposals from Stage One, including:
    • Pre-approved content from competition collaborators (including NASA, the Department of Education, Intel, etc.);  or
    • Content and programs submitted and approved in Stage One (including the design and tech applicant’s own content if it was submitted and approved through Stage One); or
    • Other content used to demo the designs (in this case, if your design is successful, HASTAC will match you with a collaborator or approved content applicant from Stage One).
  • Fully developed badge systems will include a badge or set of badges, assessments and the technology required to issue, track, and measure performance.
  • Platforms used to issue badges must work with Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure standards and APIs (
  • Proposals will be displayed online for public comment and assessed by an expert panel of judges.

Stage Three: Match-making and Finals

  • This stage will bring together winning badge content and program proposals from Stage One and collaborator content with winning badge system and technology designs from Stage Two to form comprehensive teams.
  • Applicants and collaborators will be involved in the match-making process to ensure the best fit, and HASTAC will help with the matchmaking process where necessary.
  • Teams will collaborate on badge system designs and work out details for the final system.
  • This phase will culminate in the Finals: two days of face-to-face meetings to finalize the proposal, and then “pitching” their proposed badge systems to an expert panel of judges.


  • Winning badge systems will be selected from those presented at the Finals in Stage Three by an expert panel of judges and announced on March 1, 2012 at the Digital Media and Learning Conference.
  • Criteria will include:
    • overall technical and pedagogical quality;
    • effectiveness of the badges' assessment process;
    • aesthetic and design quality;
    • likelihood of acceptance and adoption by learners, institutions, employers, and the general public. 
  • Winners will receive up to $200,000 for their projects
    • Awards ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 will be granted to the winning teams from Stage Three. These awards will be granted based on project feasibility and complexity, team member expertise, length of time required to complete the work, and level of institutional support.
    • Time to complete winning projects is one year.
  • Representatives from winning teams will attend the Digital Media and Learning Conference on March 1-3, 2012 and present their projects at a special forum. Winners must also budget travel expenses to participate in the 2013 Digital Media and Learning Conference.
  • Winning badge systems will launch and join the badge ecosystem in early 2013.

Competition Examples/Case Studies

Here are some hypothetical competition examples that show how the process will work. This is not a comprehensive list but will illustrate the key process aspects of the competition.

  1. Match-Made Team: Content and Programs Applicant + Design and Tech Applicant

    1. Stage One

      An after-school and youth development organization submits its content around a digital storytelling curriculum. The proposal includes a description of the curriculum, student work, skills covered, and the opportunity or role they feel badges can play. Their proposal is selected to advance to Stage Two.
    2. Stage Two

      A design team that includes an instructional designer, game designer, and developer submits a proposal detailing 10 badges that align with the digital storytelling content from Stage One, as well as initial plans for the supporting technology. Their designs are selected to advance to Stage Three.
    3. Stage Three

      The two teams are matched to finalize their badge system plans together. The new team collaborates via conference calls before attending the Finals, a face-to-face meeting in February 2012. At the end of the Finals, they present their final badge system proposal to a panel of judges. Their badge system is selected as a winner and they continue working together over the following year to implement and launch the badge system.
  2. Match-Made Team: Collaborator + Design and Tech Applicant

    1. Stage One

      NASA, one of the competition collaborators, has submitted content around its robotics program, curriculum and events, and outlined the opportunity for badges.
    2. Stage Two

      An organization of instructional designers is inspired by NASA's content, and submits a proposal for a number of aligned badges with details around how the potential badge system would work. Their designs are selected to advance to Stage Three.
    3. Stage Three

      NASA and the design organization decide to work together to finalize the badge system. They need some additional technology support to build it out, so HASTAC helps them identify resources to help fill those gaps. The team attends the finals to work together face-to-face and finalize their proposal. Once approved, the team works together to build and implement the badge system over the following year.
  3. Existing Team with both Content and Design/Tech Proposals

    1. Stage One

      An open education organization has developed a curriculum for web developer skills and already piloted initial badges for their learners. The members submit a description of their content and programs, as well as a brief description of the existing badge system and their goals for expanding it. Their submission is selected to advance to Stage Two.
    2. Stage Two

      Using its content, the same open education organization submits its proposal for an expanded badge system, which includes a description of the new online assessment and badge system they plan to build. The proposed badge system design is selected to advance to Stage Three.
    3. Stage Three

      Since the organization has submitted for both Stage One and Stage Two, and already has all the resources it needs internally to develop and implement the badge system, there is no match-making to be done. Its team continues to refine the proposed badge system and attends The Finals to finalize and present their proposal to the panel of judges. The badge system is selected as a winner and the organization receives funding and support to build and launch the expanded badge system over the following year. 

Winning Badge Systems

Winner Specifics

Winning projects will be selected by the expert panel on the basis of aesthetic, technical, and pedagogical quality, the effectiveness of the assessment the badges represent, and the likelihood the badges will be recognized and effectively deployed by learners, learning institutions, employers, trade associations and the general public.

Representatives from winning teams will attend two days of face-to-face meetings from February 28-29, 2012 to finalize their proposals, and then "pitch" their proposed badge systems to an expert panel of judges. Winners will be announced on March 1, 2012, at the Digital Media and Learning Conference. Winning projects will be funded for up to one year based on their detailed, comprehensive budgets. Final badge systems will be launched in early 2013.

Project leaders or their principal representatives will be expected to attend The Finals: Match-up Meeting and Project Presentations in San Francisco on February 28 & 29, 2012, followed by the Digital Media and Learning Conference on March 1-3, 2012. They will interact with the Digital Media and Learning community and other Competition winners and present their projects at a special forum at the conference.

Winners must also budget travel expenses to participate in the 2013 Digital Media and Learning Conference.


Competition awards will range from $10,000 to $200,000.

Award amounts will be based on level and complexity of proposed work, type and duration of required expertise, level of institutional support and correspondence between proposed budget and expert judge's estimate of work. 

Judging and Public Comment

Different panels of experts will judge each stage of the competition. Stages One and Two will be judged online. Stage Three will be judged in person at the Finals.

Public comment will be invited and considered in the judging at Stages One and Two. Winning projects at Stage Three will be made public after selection.