Supporting the development of large badge systems with shareable badge applications

Open Badge Factory (OBF) has been designed from the very beginning to support the development of badge ecosystems. In practice, this means that OBF provides collaborative tools to enable its users to co-create and share their badges and to partner up. By partnering up, we mean that issuer organisations can endorse each other and each others’ badges.

OBF’s collaborative features have not been implemented in a day, but are the result of a long and ongoing development process driven by the needs of our customers. The need to be able to share badges with other organisations, and to issue badges created by other organisations, was expressed by some associations and school networks. This need arose quite rapidly after some of their pioneer members started to create badges for their own internal needs. The initial requests for shareable badges were motivated by the desire to share resources and expertise, to align badges on commonly recognised criteria to create meaningful badge systems, and to avoid badge inflation.

Joined hands

Badge sharing models

It is interesting to note that two kinds of badge sharing models have been adopted by OBF users. The most common is a model where a small number of partners, who are often funded and accredited by an official body and recognised for their expertise, develop a badge system that is shared with all other members of the network. The second model is a decentralised, organically evolving ecosystem which is nourished by the need of a community. This organic ecosystem can’t be managed or controlled by key coordinating partners; it grows on a network of trust and mutual recognition stated and made visible by endorsements. Badge ecosystems are slowly emerging, but the development of large shareable badge systems, especially by large school and university networks and NGOs, has created the need to develop tools for sharing and managing large shareable badge systems even further.

To be consistent and sustainable, this formal and centralised model requires that shareable badges can be issued by partners but modified only by the team creating them. To ensure that a shareable system of badges stays consistent for all its issuers, the Open Badge Factory team has developed a feature to share badges as links. A badge shared as a link can be issued by all partners with whom the badge is shared and modified only by the user or team which created it. Another interesting aspect of this feature is that modifications made by the creator will be automatically updated for all issuers using the badge shared as a link. It is also worth mentioning that the creator of a badge which is shared with a link will get reports on how often the badge has been issued by his or her partners.

Shareable badge applications

This year, many of our customers have also expressed the need to share badge applications in addition to badges. We have decided to develop the sharing feature further, and are happy to announce that after mid-September it will be possible for OBF Pro users to share several badge applications at the same time as links.

Flying balls

Badge application is the most popular feature of OBF; it is a powerful tool to assess and recognise prior learning and to motivate and engage badge earners. In practice, a badge application is a badge linked with an application form in which applicants fill in evidence and other requested information. This new feature will save a lot of time for partners because application forms will be linked with the badges and will be ready to use. We believe that shareable badge applications will increase the consistency of shared badge systems. Since instructions for reviewers will be linked to shared badge applications, it will be easier for a large network of reviewers to assess skills and achievements on a common basis.

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.