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 people from mainstream secondary, specialist education, FE/Sixth Form and HE institutions. The event focused on how Open Badges could be deployed across the City, in a range of settings and contexts.

The session was co-organised by the DigiLit Leicester team with Tim Farthing from 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.

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, including:


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

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