Open Badges Hands On Session


Following the success of the Open Badges Briefing in May, a hands-on workshop was held yesterday at De Montfort University. The focus of the session was on the practicalities of designing and creating Open Badges. As with the previous meeting, attendees came from a mixture of Mainstream, FE and HE institutions, along with staff from VESA and Leicestershire cares.

The session began with a number of walkthroughs involving free online tools that can be used to support the creation of Open Badges. Attendees were issued with a pack of resources as they arrived, which included step-by-step tutorials for each of the tools, and were given the opportunity to work through these at their own pace – with support and guidance where necessary.



The first step was to create a Backpack, where badges are stored once they are earned. This involved signing up for a Mozilla Persona account; which was also used for another tool later in the workshop. The walkthrough handout can be found here.



Next, attendees were introduced to the Open Badge Designer, a badge image creation tool created by MyKnowledgeMap. This user friendly design tool provides you with lots of choices (and the opportunity to upload your own images) in order to create the image of your Open Badge. A step-by-step guide to the designer tool can be found here.



Finally, with their backpack and badge image at the ready, attendees created their own Open Badges. The tool uses the Mozilla Persona account to save the badges you create. This means that you don’t have to create a separate account from which to issue badges. Find out more about creating an Open Badge here.

Attendees were asked to upload their finished badge images to a Padlet wall – a virtual noticeboard – in order to share their first attempts. These can be viewed here [online] or here [PDF version].


Before beginning the main part of the workshop, people who had attended the previous briefing gave a short description of how badges might be deployed in their context. For example, South Leicestershire College are currently working on an employability passport – where learners gather employability skills throughout the year through different activities and experiences – and are interested to see how Open Badges may support this. Also, VESA currently work with schools to supply vocational taster sessions and would like to investigate how badges could be used to provide recognition for the completion of these courses.

Open Badges Canvas

The main activity of the workshop introduced the Open Badge Canvas from DigitalMe. This simple framework is a highly effective tool for sparking discussions around Open Badges and helping to structure the design process. Attendees worked in groups to discuss potential ways that Open Badges could be used across the city.

The canvas is broken up into four main sections:

  • Audience – who the badge is for
  • Components – what makes up the badge
  • Pathways – stand-alone or part of a larger eco system?
  • Resources – what will be needed to create the badge


The canvas also encourages thinking about the design and outward facing information of the badge (e.g. its name and description).


Each group had individual blank copies of the Canvas, alongside an annotated version, designed to provide prompts for each section – this version can be found here.

Next Steps

To close the session, the groups were asked to consider some final questions about Open Badges:

  • What did they wish to achieve?
  • When by?
  • What extra support would be needed?
  • Did they have any further questions or concerns?

These were then collated on another Padlet wall which can be found here [online] or here [PDF version].

The main concern focused on ensuring quality and consistency across the city – perhaps a Leicester City standard is an answer to this, perhaps not – we intend to organise another session around Open Badges in the new academic year to discuss future plans and this will likely be a key point for discussion.

It has also been highlighted that ensuring external recognition is important to the success of a Leicester City Open Badge scheme – if the group were to work together on a standard, this would certainly raise the profile of our scheme and could help us to identify potential endorsers.

We will continue to work through the comments on the padlet wall – ensure that you check back and feel free to leave us further comments.

Further Reading

Open Badges Briefing – This blog post summarises the introductory session, led by Doug Belshaw of Mozilla, which was held in Leicester in early May.

Open Badges Implementation FAQ – A good starting point for any further questions around issuing Open Badges, with links to more technical explanations where required.

Design Principles for Assessing Learning with Digital Badges – this is the second of four posts looking at trends in the issuing of Open Badges. This article has evaluated some of the leading Open Badge schemes and categorised the assessment practices demonstrated into a list of ten ‘appropriate practices’.


Open Badges and Leicester City


On Friday 3rd May, Rushey Mead School played host to an introduction to Open Badges for Leicester educators. Doug Belshaw, Badges and Skills Lead for the Mozilla Foundation presented to a packed room. The session was attended by around 30 individuals from a mixture of Mainstream, SEN, FE/Sixth Form and HE institutions. This provided a great opportunity to look at how Open Badges could be deployed across the City, in a range of settings and contexts.

The session was organised by Tim Farthing, VESA (who support vocational, applied and work-related learning opportunities for 13-19 year olds) and co-presented by Paul Conneally, Leicester City Council Learning Services, with support from the Leicester City Council BSF ICT Team.

The aims of the day were to provide attendees with:

  • a clear understanding of Open Badges, how they work and what they can be used for.
  • an opportunity to consider how Open Badges might work in individual schools, colleges or organisations – and across collaborative partnerships.
  • a clear idea of the next steps for implementing Open Badges.

Doug’s presentation gave a  comprehensive introduction to the Open Badges movement, key issues to consider, and how Open Badges work in practice.

Why Open Badges?

Learning often takes place outside of what we formally assess, and it can be hard to gain recognition for the wide range of skills and achievements that young people may develop. Accreditation for learning often exists in Silos (GCSEs, Certificated Training, etc.) and badges may be a way to bridge the gaps.

What are Open Badges?

An Open Badge is an image with metadata (data about data – in this case, information about how and why the badge has been awarded) attached to it. The diagram below spells this out:

Image shared under a creative commons license by Kyle Bowen
Image shared under a creative commons license by Kyle Bowen

Open Badges can be used to represent:

  • achievements
  • skills
  • competences
  • interests
  • formal and informal learning pathways
  • hard and soft skills
  • peer assessment
  • lifelong learning

How do Open Badges work?

Mozilla have created the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) – a freely accessible system which supports all elements of issuing and earning badges.

“The OBI is designed to be an open standards framework that allows badge systems to break out of their siloed environments and work together to benefit learners.”

What makes the OBI stand out from other accreditation systems is that it isn’t proprietary, it is designed as an open technical standard – meaning that any organisation or institution can use it to create and issue badges – and any individual can use it to earn and display badges. This also means that once a learner has left a particular institution they can continue have access to and display their badges (and can earn badges from a number of sources).

Answering your questions about Open Badges – A recent post from Doug Belshaw, Badges and Skills Lead for Mozilla.

Who can use Open Badges?

Many organisations are already using the OBI, here are just a few examples:

badge-breakout-bottomFollowing Doug’s presentation, the attendees split into three groups – Mainstream, FE/HE and SEN/Social Care. Discussions covered:

Group members understanding about Open Badges, and things they wanted to find out more about.

How Open Badges might be used in their school, college or other setting.

If they wanted to be involved in further collaborative work on Open Badges – and if so – how?

The discussions in all three groups were enthusiastic and it is clear that educational providers across Leicester are interested in further exploring, and trying out Open Badges. With limited time available, the group decided that a future workshop would be organised – for attendees to take their discussions further and to help begin plans for Open Badges in Leicester. Attendees particularly wanted to explore how badges worked in action for organisations.

Further Reading

Get Recognised! – This blog post, introducing Open Badges, was written by learners from Leicester City schools during Takeover 2012.

Open Badges for Lifelong Learning – The original White Paper from the Mozilla Foundation, Peer 2 Peer University and the MacArthur Foundation.

Open Badges: Portable Rewards for Learner Achievements – A White Paper from MyKnowledgeMap introducing Open Badges.

What is the Open Badges Infrastructure? – More information about OBI