Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Project: Open Badges in Open edX and Beyond

by Daniel Hickey
This post introduces our newest project with open digital badges.  The project got quietly underway in July 2014 with the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning initiative. We are actively seeking collaborators and are in a position to help innovators in higher ed who want to implement open digital badges and other related digital innovations.

If you are reading this blog then you likely know about open digital badges.  These are the web-enabled micro-credentials that are changing the way that learning is recognized in both formal schools and informal settings. Digital badges have proven particularly popular in higher education.  Hundreds of colleges and universities are using them to recognize a wide range of learning. They have obvious appeal for recognizing learning in MOOCs. For example, Deakin University used Credly to issue badges in one of their MOOCs. Some universities like Purdue are awarding badges for formal course completion. Others like Indiana are using badges (and Purdue's Passport system) to recognize faculty professional development.  Still, others like Michigan are using badges to recognize "co-curricular" learning outcomes. I got really ambitions with badges in my Big Open Online Course that Google supported.

Beyond Badgekit 
My new research project at the IU Center for Research on Learning & Technology aims to support widespread and effective uses of digital badges systems and related digital innovations in higher education. The project is called Badgekit and Beyond in Open edX and Beyond.  This is because we are starting with the Open edX platform and with the Badgekit badge issuing API developed by Chris MacEvoy at Mozilla. Nate Otto, Thomas Smith, and I started working in Summer 2014 with Chris and with Ned Batchelder at Open edX and we now have some basic functionality in place.

Karthik Bangera has since taken over programming from Thomas; Dr. James Willis just joined the CRLT as a Research Associate and is taking over project coordination from Nate. This new team is currently working with several instructors who are offering MOOCs in edX and have asked us to help them issue badges for module and course completion. We are currently trying to line up additional instructors and institutions using Open edX to collaborate with.  As long as they will let us share their ideas and practices with others in our open case library, we can probably help them out.

Beyond edX
Once we get the Open edX badging system
in place and are working with projects on that platform, we aim to turn our attention to other platforms, starting with Google's Course Builder and Instructure's Canvas.  There was a lot of interest in badges in the GCB workshop in Zurich this summer and we are working with Google to make some of the innovations we developed in our Big Open Online Course (starting with wikifolios) as primary features in that platform.  Additionally, we are already working with Canvas at IU and hope to use our current collaboration with Indiana University High School to pilot badges there before installing them in Indiana's version of Canvas. Afterwards, hopefully badges will be used in multiple universities participating in the Unizin Consortium.

We are pretty excited about all of the interest in badges in higher ed.  I am going to Australia to present at a national meeting in November at Deakin University and am also planning to meet with innovators at the University of Sydney and Australia National University in Canberra.  Higher educators around the world are recognizing that badges are much more than certificates or grades.  Specifically, they are seeing that digital badges can contain specific claims and detailed evidence supporting those claims.  They are also seeing that open digital badges allow this information to circulate in digital social networks. Many are also discovering that this makes open digital badges potentially transformative and routinely disruptive.

1 comment:

  1. @Dan Great work! When working with Canvas, you might consider BadgeSafe™ (, which is an end-to-end issuing system designed especially for Canvas. Besides support of the OBI Backpack, BadgeSafe can issue digitally signed tamper-proof credentials for high-stake achievements. Digitally signed credentials delivers a way to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, a credential’s authenticity, who issued it, and to whom it belongs.