Open badges: what, why, how to use them?

9 Mar 2018

Open badges are digital badges designed to show that the badge holder, for instance the Maastricht University (UM) student, having participated in a mediation clinic from the Faculty of Law, possesses certain knowledge or skills. Badges contain information about, among other things, the course followed, the institution that issued the badge and the receiver of the badge. Of course badges may not be ‘copyable’. The idea of open badges is something which pops up on a regular basis withing the UM, mainly in the context of extracurricular courses.


Proof of Concept

Together with seven other institutes, Maastricht University (UM) participates in a SURF ‘Proof of Concept’ (PoC) project in which they investigate how these badges can be created and offered. The project focuses on creating an infrastructure making use of an open badge standard, which is publicly available and free of licenses. That’s why they speak of open badges.

UM library advises in creating and adding metadata on these badges. As a follow up on the PoC project, we also focus on the topic of integrating the infrastructure with the UM learning environment.


White paper

SURF has documented the possible opportunities offered by open badges in Dutch education in a white paper. This white paper – based on conversations with educational institutions and other stakeholders – starts with an introduction on badges: what they are, what their significance is, who the stakeholders are and how badges are (currently) used.

Three scenarios are discussed:

  1. badges for micro-credentials (breaking learning down into units smaller than diplomas)
  2. badges for extra-curricular education
  3. and badges as game elements.

Attention is paid to advantages and disadvantages for stakeholders in every scenario. Finally, the paper describes what needs to be done to actually introduce badges, having consequences for ICT infrastructure, personal data protection and co-operation between educational institutions.

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