As I’ve written a bit about micro-credentials and digital badges this year, I have a growing number of people asking me about how they can start designing and issuing badges. While I like getting into the strategic planning part of things, most of these questions are just about what tools and technologies exist to issue badges. So, this post is my initial answer to that question.
Of course, one’s decision depends upon a number of factors: goals, desired features, essential features, reporting requirements, technical acumen, financial resources, whether there is need for long-term record-keeping, whether the badges are part of a formal academic offering, etc. Nonetheless, here is my rough draft list of some current options for badge design and issuing solutions. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does introduce you to a variety of current possibilities.
My one criterion for including an option is that it is compliant with the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure. If it is just a closed badging system, I’m leaving it off the list for now (my apologies to groups like Schoology). This is a fast-moving time in the badge world, so new players are likely to emerge. For this reason, as you look through this list, you will see that many of these are still in beta. That is also something to keep in mind as you consider your options.
Like everything I write on this blog, this is a rough draft. So, I would appreciate help expanding and improving it. If you have any more commentary on one of these options (including if you are from one of the companies mentioned in the list), please consider including a suggested description or revision in the comment area. I will review the comments occasionally and use them to update the article. Also, if you know or learn about other badge issuing solutions, please consider listing and describing them in the comment area. I will incorporate them granted that they meet my one criterion. Finally, I have a couple of emails out to some companies on this list, asking for help describing their product, especially those that I was not able to try out for myself. I will use their replies to improve the list also.
Acclaim Open Badges – This solution from Pearson allows trusted Universities, schools and organizations the chance to issue badges, while also giving the recipient a, “secure way to share online that they have achieved something important. They focus on working with clients that are “high-stakes credentialing organizations and academic institutions.
Achievery – This is a robust stand-alone or integrated solution for creating, issuing and displaying badges. If you are an academic institution or organization, you can sign up to participate in their public beta. Like most betas, know that there is no guarantee that it will continue to be free or even come out of beta. UPDATE: On April 8, 2015 Achievery announced that they will suspend their badge issuing services.
BadgeForge – This is yet another beta that allows you to design, create, review submissions, and issue badges. It also includes options for badge earners to “set their own goals and earn their own recognition in the form of badges.” As such, this is a promising model for self-directed and student-centered project-based learning educational settings.
BadgeList – This is includes an option to create groups. Then you can easily issue badges. It allows for one to also “create and organize” evidence of learning.” – Added 7/30/14
BadgeOS – This free WordPress plug-in from LearningTimes (connected to Credly) allows you to design, review submissions, and issue badges right through your WordPress blog. I love how this plug-in allows for easy submission of evidence and a means of reviewing and having a text-based conversation with the submitter through a private comment tool. There is a growing number of free or inexpensive extensions that allow added features like leaderboards and reports.
BadgeKit – This kit of tools from Mozilla provides a solution for “creating, designing, assessing, and issuing badges.” Right now, this option is a private beta, but if you the technical acumen, you can download the open source code from GitHub and run it on your own server.
Added by Jade Forester of the Badge Alliance on 7/30/14 –
The hosted version of BadgeKit is being used for select partners in the 2014 Cities of Learning initiative (http://citiesoflearning.org). If your organization has the technical resources, you can host BadgeKit on your own servers by downloading the code from Github (https://github.com/mozilla/openbadges-badgekit). A tutorial for this process is available here: https://github.com/mozilla/openbadges-badgekit/wiki/BadgeKit-Tutorial
Alternatively, there are a number of other badge issuing options available – we’ve put a list of offerings from a number of badge issuing partners on our wiki: http://bit.ly/Badge_Issuing_Platforms
Blackboard Learn – If your organization uses Blackboard for an LMS, then you are ready to issue badges. Simply use the “achievements” tool to design, review submissions and issue badges.
Canvas + BadgeSafe – Canvas, another increasingly well-known LMS, also has the option of designing, reviewing and issuing badges using BadgeSafe.
Credly – This is a user-friendly and robust solution for people or organizations interested in creating and issuing badges. You can use their tools to build simple visual designs or you can upload badges that you designed on your own. They have a number of existing integrations with everything from WordPress to Salesforce, along with an API that gives you the option of integrating it into other systems as well. I used Credly for my first two MOOCs. While there was not an integration with the LMS that I was using at the time, it was as easy as uploading a batch file each week and sending out the badges.
Drupal Modules – There are a few projects underway to refine modules that allow you to create and/or issuing badges through Drupal, a popular open source content management system. I’m far less familiar with these options, but you and check them out here.
ForAllBadges – This is a stand-alone solution for designing, managing, and issuing badges, with a focus on K-12 education. They recently combined this service with ForAllRubrics, allowing for a nice rubric interface for reviewing badges.
Makewav.es – Makewav.es is a social networking platform that can be to to create and issue Open Badges. It is, “a community of thousands of schools sharing their creativity and raising achievement with badges.” – Contributed by Matt Rogers on 7/28/14
Moodle Open Badges – Like other Learning Management Systems, Moodle has the option of designing, reviewing submissions, and issuing badges. You have the option of building site-wide or course-specific badges. If you are a Moodle user, you can enable open badges in the “advanced features” section of the “site administration.”
Open Badge Factory – While issuing badges through built-in features of a Learning Management System is an option, there are some downsides, and Open Badge Factory offers an external solution that integrates with a few LMSs. You can integrate OBF with an LMS like Moodle (as well as Totara and Optima). You can design, create, manage, and issue badges with this solution. Plus it allows you to generate reports. This is a pilot through December of 2014, but you can contact the developers to see if you can participate in the pilot.
OpenBadges.me – Okay, so this one is not a platform for issuing badges, but it is a user-friendly tool for the graphic design part of building your badge. It includes a simple step-by-step process to create a badge. Then you can download it to your computer and upload it to whichever tool you choose for issuing.
Passport by Purdue – This one is a private beta right now, but it is a system designed to allow faculty to issue badges for student completion of challenges. Looking at their introductory video, it seems to be a learning management system and electronic portfolio designed around badges.
RedCritter – This services provides a place to display badges. – Added 4/27/2015
YouTopia – This is more than a badge-issuing service. It is a sort of LMS or CMS that allows you to create challenges, issue badges and provides a place for people to display badges they earned. – Added 7/28/14
WPBadger – This simple and light-weight WordPress plug-ins allow you to issue badges from from your WordPress blog.