Monday, February 11, 2013

An Open, Distributed System for Badge Validation


We’ve released a request for comments on a proposal for badge validation, specifically, an open, distributed system for badge validation.

Here’s the direct link to the paper:

Bonus Commentary

Here’s some extra commentary for all of you blog-loving folks:

There have been a lot of people that have claimed that badges could replace degrees. That collections of badges could serve as legitimate portfolios or pathways that tell the same story as a degree, and in fact tell a much more in depth story given that we can use badges to capture more granular learning and each badge is evidence-based. I get asked a lot if I believe that badges will replace degrees and it’s a tough question. It’s not what we are setting out to do necessarily, the use case for badges in informal learning spaces is a primary one since that learning is not currently recognized. But I know I do believe in the utopia where learners can craft their own paths across the many learning opportunities available - especially those that are free and accessible. Where on-the-job experience counts for you in a real way. Where all of the learning and experiences in your lifetime are connected and stitched together around your identity or identities. Degrees definitely do no do this for you, but badges could.

I guess I don’t really think degrees will go away anytime soon, but I do think that its possible for badges to function at that level for people. But in order to do so, we need some way to validate the learning behind the badge - to ensure it represents what it says it does. Another way to think about this is, we need to accredit badge issuers.

But remember that the point of badges is an open credentialing system. We want there to be lots of issuers of all shapes and sizes. We learners to earn badges across many different issuers and experiences. The one benefit of a monopoly - which formal education currently has on credentialing - is that you can super tightly control it. You can validate the learning from the top down and put the rubber stamps in the hands of a small group of people. This won’t work for badges, so how can we validate badges?

The proposal we have released relies on a similar model to current accreditation - standards, evaluation and evidence - but each piece is open and distributed instead of closed and top-down. It includes a set of technical requirements, as well as social requirements that cover:

  • Standards - encouraging badge issuers to align with open standards or competency frameworks and store that information in the badge metadata.
  • Endorsements (Evaluation) - allow third parties to review badges and sign them, or endorse the badge. This information then lives with that badge as additional valuation data.
  • Reporting and Analytics (Evidence) - ways to view usage and consumption data of badges so that we see which badges are getting which jobs, which standards are most used or accepted, etc. Surfacing those badges/standards/issuers that are bubbling to the top .

The goal is to create a highly efficient and effective way of validating, valuing and comparing badges

It might all come together like this:



Diagrams: All of the standards, endorsement (evaluation) and usage/adoption data (evidence) becomes more information that lives with the badge and travels with it across the web.

The paper goes into much more detail around each part of how they work together. Looking forward to your comments and feedback below, or even better, on the Open Badges mailing list.



  1. worldofe posted this