External endorsement - making badge endorsement more usable

Open Badge Factory (OBF) has been a pioneer in the implementation of endorsement for Open Badges since the concept was first introduced in v2.0 of the standard. In February 2018, we made it possible for OBF users to endorse other organisations’ badges prior to issue (“badge class”). In April 2019, we made it possible for Open Badge Passport users to endorse other users’ earned badges (“badge assertions”).

Authentic endorsements by third party organisations and individuals add additional layers of trust and value to open badges as digital credentials and signals of recognition. That’s why our endorsement features have been widely adopted by networks of organisations and endorsements have contributed to the emergence of recognition ecosystems, especially in the association and education sectors.

Back in April 2019, we said we had nearly closed the loop of endorsement, because endorsement was available in both Open Badge Factory and Open Badge Passport. But “nearly” was not enough for all our client organisations. Many of them needed to seek endorsement from other organisations not registered on the OBF platform. How could we include these “external” organisations?

Easy online request and approval

We decided to enable endorsement from outside OBF through the use of a custom link, similar to an login confirmation link. An OBF user can now send an endorsement request to an external endorser via email. When the endorser clicks on the link embedded in the email, they are taken directly to the requested endorsement on OBF. They can complete the endorsement form, including reasons WHY they’re endorsing, and save it, endorsing either the badge (badge class) or the badge issuer (and all the badges they issue).

Easy online request and approval

Well that’s simple - no registration! This easy, yet robust method was adapted from an earlier OBF innovation, introduced in 2016: external review of badge application forms via emailed links, which was developed for a large scale European recognition project.

Please note that this method means that OBF can’t verify the identity of external endorsers because they’re not registered users of the service. But OBF clients have agreed to this balance between usability and verification; it’s logical that they will know the identities of their endorsement partners and will not want to harm their own reputations as registered OBF users by requesting false endorsements.

The external endorsement feature was released on August 27th, 2019. We anticipate that this accessible and usable partnership tool will make a significant contribution to the rise of open badges as digital currency for skills and to the growth of open recognition ecosystems.

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Author: Eric Rousselle, CEO, Open Badge Factory

Open Badge Factory provides the tools your organisation needs to implement a meaningful and sustainable Open Badges system. OBF is certified by IMS Global and follows the latest version of the standard.