Yes, we get a lot of questions. We collected the most frequent ones here.

What is an Open Badge?

A badge is a little digital image with a catchy name that can be displayed on social media or other places on the Internet. The hidden beauty of an Open Badge lies in its metadata and is revealed when you click on the image: A description of what the badge earner had to do in order to gain it and a link back to the awarding institution for verification.


Who uses them and why?

A range of organisations and communities are issuing badges for their learners, customers or other stakeholders. For example:

  • All kinds of training providers including schools and universities.
  • Civil society organisations and communities
  • Government agencies / public entities.
  • Libraries and museums.
  • Event organisers and science fairs.
  • Companies and groups focused on professional development.

Here you can find a list of Open Badges issuers: http://openbadges.org/participating-issuers/


How could I use them as an educator?

Badges have great pedagogical potential for you as an educator. You can use them for motivation, to encourage attitudes and behaviours, as an alternative to grades, for validation of competence and skills, for achievements or as a lovely tool in a formative assessment process. The nice thing about badges is that they can be earned for skills, competences and achievements that regular grades don’t acknowledge. Thus, they are extremely useful for validating informal learning and soft skills. And they are fun.


Are there different types of Badges?

Yes. Badges come in a variety of shapes and colours and have descriptive, and often funny or cool, names like AdEO (Adult Educator Online) or “Brain Bonanza” (Khan Academy)
There could be a badge for any purpose under the sun.
Some badges are just little treats for encouragement, whereas others are used as real credentials. Some are awarded for rather simple tasks, like participating in a workshop or asking three clever questions. Others require real efforts like organising a workshop, leading a study circle, being a mentor for a new co-volunteer, etc.
Badges are issued in practical as well as in academic contexts.
They all have some features in common: They are digital, pretty and fun.


Where do I find an issuing platform?

Here is a list of some Issuing Platforms.  https://www.badgealliance.org/badge-issuing-platforms/The issuing platform used for the AdEO badge is OpenBadgeFactory.  https://openbadgefactory.com/Anyone can become an Open Badge issuer using free software and the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), developed by the Mozilla Foundation.


What does it cost? 

For the earner: In general there is no cost involved when collecting or sharing Open Badges. Nonetheless, it is possible that some issuers charge for their service and owners of some sites where you want to display your Badge might charge you for that.For the issuer: The issuer has to use an issuing platform. Some of them offer free access for basic features but usually you have to pay for full access.OpenBadgeFactory, for example, offers 3 levels of service: Free; access to basic feature and possibility of only two badges. Basic; access to most features and max 10 different badges (€120/year) and Premium; full access (€600/year).  More here: https://openbadgefactory.com/faq Other issuers have different pricing.


How do I create a badge?

Different issuing platforms will all have their own technical instructions on how to create and issue a badge. They are usually described with easy step-by-step guides.


What do I need to start making and issuing badges?

You need a description of what the badge taker needs to do to get the badge (award criteria), you need an image (usually 200×200 pixels) and you need an online service that issues the badge. The most popular services are Open Badge Factory (https://openbadgefactory.com) and Mozilla Open Badges (http://openbadges.org).


How do i make the badge image?

There are many ways you can make visual elements for badges. You can draw them yourself using illustration software such as Adobe Illustrator or draw them by hand and scan them. You can commission a graphical designer to make them for you. Or you can use online tools to quickly construct a badge image. Before starting, think about where they shall be used and displayed. Are you making one badge only, or a whole series? If you are just starting and want to try it out before committing, you can make a test badge. One free online tool is http://www.onlinebadgemaker.com  Another one is https://www.openbadges.me. If you use Open Badge Factory they are also offering a simple tool for quickly creating badge graphics.


Can anyone issue or make a badge?

Yes in theory. But for the badge to be taken seriously there needs to be an identifiable issuing organisation. This can be a school, an NGO, a company or other legal entity.In principle, it is possible for anyone to issue a badge for someone whose learning or achievement has had real meaning for the issuer and the earner.


Where can I show my badge? 

As a badge earner you can show their badges via social media or as a web link. For example, on the Open Badge Passport, which is one of the tools for sharing badges, there are features that help to share the badge (or collection of badges), for example, on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+,  Facebook, Pinterest, as a link or as an embed code that you can add anywhere you like, such as your blog.On Mozilla Backpack, which is another commonly used tool, you can share your badges via Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also print your badge, if you wish.


What can I do with my Badge?

Badges may give you an opportunity to display competences you have not been able to show before via the internet or anywhere else. So, you may use badges while searching for a job, or when you want to show for your organisation or your peers your competencies and skills that you have acquired e.g. by volunteering.You can organise your badges into different collections and share them when you want on social media or as a web link to your badge collection.


What is the value of a Badge?

Badges can bring out competences, skills and achievements that haven’t been made visible before, such as soft skills. The competences can be ones that have been recognised in either one’s online or offline life. They can be seen as motivators to learning and for learners to set new learning goals. They can also validate learning and achievements that have taken place outside the classroom such as volunteering.


What is Open Badge Passport?

Open Badge Passport is a free service provided by Discendum. Inside the OBP you can receive and store all your Open Badges and share them with the audiences you want (such as linkedIn, Facebook etc). You can sort your badges and create Pages for different badge collections and choose where they are shared. OBP is compatible with Mozilla Backpack.


What is Mozilla Backpack?

Mozilla Backpack is a free service where you can receive and store your Open Badges. Inside Mozilla Backpack you can sort badges into categories and choose where they’re shared, through a single interface. MB is compatible with Open Badge Passport.


We are a serious adult education provider – should we care about badges?

If you plan and implement an Open Badge system carefully you might find it very useful on many levels. Open badges can be a serious and innovative way to reward learners and encourage learners by highlighting incremental learning outcomes. It can also be fun.


Do I have to be a Tech guru?

No, you do not need to be a tech guru. Some technical knowledge is useful, but most of all an open a curious mind. This web site and many online forums can help you with practical as well as technical problems.


How is this badge different from other forms of validation such as certificates?

Open Badges can be a flexible way of recognising, validating and awarding learning, as they are not tied to a certain curriculum. They can also be used to validate the acquisition of e.g. soft skills, which aren’t usually shown in certificates.


Can you make a Badge for anything?

Yes you can make a Badge for anything but if it is going to have any value the award criteria have to be clear. To avoid ‘badge inflation’ issuers should keep in mind that badges should mean something and stand for valuable things.


What’s in it for an institution?

An institution can really motivate its learners by issuing badges. They can bring a sense of learning being a fun game where after earning a badge one van always proceed to the next level or earn more badges. Badges can also enhance an institution’s reputation if it offers carefully planned badges that have significance to their learners through increased job opportunities or increased self-esteem.


Who shouldn’t work with Open Badges?

If you have no interest in motivating your learners, validating learning outcomes or advertising your courses, by all means forget about the badges. But if this isn’t the case, find out more!


What are the risks?

There are some risks in using Open badges, but here are way you can handle those risks.

    • Your students don’t want to earn badges. -You can manage this by using success stories as a motivator, and by ensuring that the earning process is as easy as possible.
    • Your badges aren’t useful for the learners if the badges aren’t recognised by individuals or organisations outside yours. – The Open badge is still a relatively new concept, but you should also provide marketing material with success stories and so on to make the badges known
    • Outsiders don’t value your badges as useful. – This is always a risk. You can overcome it by linking the badge to properly documented evidence on learning outcomes, using meaningful and transparent criteria, and by avoiding ‘badge inflation’ by issuing badges only for truly meaningful learning and achievements.


How can anyone tell the value of a Badge?

Open badges come with metadata, i.e. a description of the requirements for earning them, facts like in what context they have been earned, when they were awarded and when they expire. And, very importantly, badges have a link back to the awarding institution for verification.


How is a Badge “open”?

Many badges are locked up in course platforms or games. You finish the course and – bye bye – leave your badges behind. Open badges are technically compatible with Open badge platforms, like Mozilla Open badge backpack or the Open Badge Factory’s passport. That means you can put them in your Open badge backpack or passport and carry them with you throughout the web.


Why do you say ‘earn’ and not ‘get’ a badge?

We really love the tiny but tasty difference. Earning is an active process. Many badges require you to achieve something in order to gain them. Often you will have to actually claim them, i.e. apply for them and explain why you are worth them. We think ‘earning’ means empowerment.


What is metadata?

Open Badges come with metadata, i.e. a description of the requirements for earning them, facts like in what context they have been earned, when they were awarded and when they expire. And, very importantly, a link back to the awarding institution for verification.As the metadata is a verification of the earner’s learning outcomes or achievements, the criteria should be transparent and specific.


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