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This project was submitted by an applicant to the Digital Media and Learning Competition.

A Badge Issuer For Everyone


The uptake of badges across many domains, organizations and communities has been held back by a lack of software tools that would allow anyone, not just learning experts and software developers, to design and issue badges that are shared through the Open Badges Infrastructure.
In order to increase the use of badges, we propose to develop a web-based badge solution that:
  • Let’s users design badges for any content area.
  • Offers a peer learning environment that fosters connected learning by awarding badges for collaborative practices.
  • Includes a variety of assessment mechanisms to award the badges, including peer-assessment and expert-review, as well as automatically based on certain trackable actions by the user.
  • Integrates fully into the OBI.
A general tool, to develop specific badge systems. The long-term goal of this proposal is to develop a tool that is adaptable and customizable so that more people will create OBI-compliant badge systems. We are open to applying for tool-development funds, or working with an approved badge system to customize the tool for a specific use-case.
Our goal is to enable anyone to create and issue badges into the OBI. Use of the hosted version of the system will be available free of charge through P2PU’s website. In addition we will make all code available under an open source license and provide full documentation so that others can easily integrate it into their own sites. 
The project team brings a unique combination of expertise in this area and will build on previous work. P2PU has been one of the original pioneers in the badges world, helping develop the original concept and creating some of the first implementation prototypes. Our existing basic badge issuing tool requires a significant amount of customization for each set of badges. We propose to expand it and turn it into a user-friendly badge issuing solution that anyone can use.
A. Content Alignment
The aim of this proposal is to develop a general tool that enables many others to create their own badge systems and become badge issuers. In order to build the tool we are open to working with an approved content partner (with preference for informal learning projects with a strong online component) and prototyping the functionality for the partner’s particular use-case. 
In addition we will design and develop a built-in set of community badges that foster connected learning practices. These badges are content agnostic and applicable to many different learning communities and topics (more detail below).
B. Badges
The proposed badge solution enables the awarding of different types of skill badges that  recognize a user’s motivations, practices or achievements and aspirations with respect to a particular topic or content area. Our solution also includes a set of community badges that recognize and incentivize connected learning practices in online learning communities.
Skill Badges (for specific content areas)
The badge issuer solution allows anyone to create a set of skill badges and provides scaffolding so that they can easily come up with powerful, high-quality badges and assessments. Skill badges can be tailored to a particular content area or learning community, e.g. an after school bird watching project would define badges related to identification of different species. They are not confined to “hard skills” - they can also recognize 21st century skills such as problem solving or critical thinking. A detailed rubrik for each badge guides the review process that leads to the badge. Skill badges hold value within a particular learning community, but signal achievements outside of that community. These are badges that are likely to end up on CVs and in job application. 
Skill badges are awarded through a peer-review process that requires involvement of expert users who have higher levels of expertise (e.g. mentors or users who already received the badge). Obtaining the badge unlocks the ability to participate in the awarding process. As the community grows, more users become eligible to participate in the assessment and badge awarding processes.
Peer Review Process
Community Badges (to foster general good learning practices)
In addition, we will create a core set of community badges that foster connected learning practices. These practices and badges are relevant across many different types of learning projects and any issuer using the system can use them out of the box. Community badges encourage practices and behaviors that are fundamental for creation of effective online learning communities such as giving feedback and collaborating with others. In addition, each badge signals a particular “role” that the user is taking within the community. Community badges are awarded by community members to each other or automatically by the system based on trackable behavior of a user, e.g. logging into the site at least 5 times in the last week, or answering 3 questions from others learners (which gets you “The Answering Machine” badge). 
Building a set of standard badges into the tool also allows some standardization of badges across projects. Different issuers who adopt the tool get access to a common core of community badges. This will create opportunities for comparison across communities and refinement of the badges over time. 
Community Badge Examples
Helpful Feedback badge
  • The Helpful Feedback Badge recognizes the ability to provide helpful and interesting feedback, including suggestions and stimulating interesting conversation while maintaining a respectful tone. The badge supports development of assessment as a core skill. Peers develop the ability to effectively analyze and evaluate the work of others, and by extension their own work. The ability to provide helpful feedback is a foundational skill for building up a mentoring practice within the community.
  • Assessment: Peers award this badge to each other within the discussions forum, when reviewing, commenting and critiquing each others’ work.
  • Levels: The number of times a user has been awarded this badge by her peers will be included in the badge image.
Answering Machine badge
  • The Answering Machine badge recognizes members of the community who consistently answer questions of other learners who might be struggling with a learning task. The badge establishes feedback as a regular core practice within a community of informal learners. In combination with the “Great Feedback” badge, this serves to incentivize collaborative behavior and helping other learners.
  • Assessment: This badge is awarded automatically through the system based on how many replies a user has made to a discussion post of type “question”. 


Team Player badge
  • The Team Player badge recognizes members who help push work forward within their project team in the community and motivate other team members to do so.
  • Assessment: Peers award this badge to each other  after completing a project together along with a review that includes a rubric and suggestions for improvements.
C. Technology
Badge Creation Process Schema
The badge issuing tool will have an easy to use interface that lets anyone create a set of badges and embed them in online learning challenges. Each badge is defined through an expandable rubrik.
Create Badges
All badges will be issued in full compliance with the OBI specifications. Learners can manage and share their badges through the P2PU user profile page, or through other OBI backpack implementations. 
User Profile With Badges
The issuer tool will be developed as a Python/Django module for Lernanta, the learning platform used by P2PU. It will be integrated as a module in Lernanta but can equally be integrated into other web applications. We will provide the necessary documentation to do so and provide community support to other projects who want to use the tool in their own sites.
In order to further expand the usability of the authoring platform, the next development phase would add an API to the badge creation and issuing functionality. This would facilitate integration with third-party tools such as e-portfolio software or course management systems. Other future options include a white-labelled version of the solution without P2PU branding, and a widget that would allow embedding the badge functionality into other sites. 
D. Team
Philipp Schmidt
  • Project role: Project design and coordination
  • Part of the Mozilla/P2PU team that developed original concept for open badges which grew into OBI
  • Coordinated MacArthur-funded working group on badges
  • Organized the “badge lab” at Mozilla Festival 2010, which brought together a variety of stakeholders, many of which are affiliated with the OBI today
Chloe Varelidi
  • Project role: Badge and assessment design
  • Experienced creative director/senior game designer for Institute of Play produced game based curriculum for the Quest to Learn School, lead the design of applications focusing on Socio Emotional Learning for the in-school social network Being Me, designed game design curriculum for Pearsons, Smisthonian, MoMA
  • Designed badges and assessments for demo OBI issuer implementation
John Britton
  • Project role: UX and feature design (working with a web design and UX consultant)
  • Experienced product manager for high traffic web-sites
  • Understands requirements and needs in online education: core P2PU team member since project start; and worked at open textbook company FlatWorldKnowledge
Zuzel Pacheco
  • Project role: Technology implementation
  • Experienced Django developer
  • Designed first ever demo implementation of an OBI compliant issuer prototype



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