Documentation:Open UBC/Education/Planning Open Badges for Courses

From UBC Wiki

How to prepare your course for badging?

Implementing badging into your course/program can be as simple or as complex as your goals for learning. For example, your goal may be that learners engage in public discourse through comments on a course blog. In this case, the learning pathway is simple and straightforward - an assigned number of comments will earn you a badge. In another instance, your goal for learners may be to facilitate a design process - which involves a number of steps and competencies. Each step will need to be mapped out in terms of what learners will need to do in order to earn the badge. These steps may involve submissions, comments, quizzes or activities which will need to be verified. Once you map out one set of steps for earning a badge, you will want to have a conversation with a learning technologist to ensure that your requirements can be met.

Getting Started

When designing a badge pathway for your course, the following should be considered:

Setting Goals for Badges in Your Course - Questions
What are the expected learning outcomes for the course or program and how does badging fit as a strategy to reach those goals?
What skills, competencies or level of achievement can reasonably be acknowledged through badging?
Are such competencies, skills, etc. recognized as having value in a field or discipline? (eg. community engagement, event planning, proposal writing, prototyping, scholarly publishing)
What sort of evidence will you need in order to award a badge? (eg. comments, posts, quizzes, evidence of engagement such as responses to a post, plans, papers, etc.)
Will evidence need to be gathered across courses in order to earn a badge (if so, there may be technical limitations to be aware of - discuss early)
How might the pathway to a badge contribute to the learning community? Within the course? Beyond the course?
Will badge earning be optional and what will be the impact on your overall assessment strategies? (replacing something, add on, extra credits)

Touchpoints refer to your first considerations around criteria for the badge. Touchpoints must be considered in conjunction with badge issuing. The badge issuing determines how the badge will be awarded using the technology provided. There may be some constraints in how you offer your badge as not all badge issuing can be automated. For example, a badge can be issued when a blog post shows critical evaluation of an article but someone will need to review the post and issue the badge.

Leveled Badge Systems

Does the badge earner need previous skills or knowledge to earn a badge?

In addition to deciding on the types of badges you will issue, you need to consider whether to use badge levels. Badge levels is the structure or path in which badges are earned. Decisions about using badge levels depend on whether there is a hierarchy in the learning process that requires an earner to gain specific knowledge and/or skill before moving on. Badges levels can also be useful if a topic is complex enough that it needs to be broken down into sub-themes and competencies.

The following outlines the kinds of leveled badge systems that should be considered when designing a badge pathway.

Tiered Badges

Tiered badges place badges in an explicit hierarchy. The purpose of a tiered system may be the following:

  • A student needs prior knowledge, skills, and/or behaviours before moving on to more complex material
  • An instructor may want to track the progress through a topic by badge-specific milestones

A tiered system of badges can concentrate the efforts of badge earners on one topic, which deepens their knowledge as they move through content.

Example of a Leveled Badge System
The Videographer badge requires increasing mastery of the subject before learning more complex skills.

Meta-level Badges

Meta-level badges represent several skills, behaviours, knowledge, and/or abilities that make up a higher level of understand around a larger topic. The type of learning here does not necessarily need to be hierarchical like with the tiered badge design. The purpose of meta-level badges is to identify the core competencies in a subtopic of a larger area of study. The purpose of a meta-level badge system may be the following:

  • An instructor may want to scaffold a complicated topic by breaking it down into more manageable subtopics
  • An instructor may want to target specific topics to signal mastery of a complex skill set
Example of a Meta-Level Badge System
Web design skills require an understanding of basic design principles. These badge are meta-literacies that make a Design Principles badge for web designers.

Examples of Leveled Badge Systems

Basic Library Skills Tutorial Badge meta level.png

Meta-level Badge

The meta-level badge, the Basic Library Skills badge, is awarded when the subtopics have been covered and the badges for these areas have been awarded to the student.

The Basic Library Skills badge represents the more complex competencies and literacies acquired through the earning of the other badges. This badge can be showcased by the student as proof of mastery over the basic library research skills required for first year students.

Basic Library Skills Tutorial Badge tiers.png

Tiered Badges

The reason for using the tiered system is the knowledge and skills needed to develop competencies in the areas of finding, accessing, and using academic resources requires prior understanding.

For example, to learn how to find the best material for a paper using a database (See: Tool Selection Badge), the student must understand what material is available to them based on the scope of their paper (See: Research Process Badge.)

The hierarchical badging approach was used to ensure students understood basic concepts before moving on to more complex concepts.

Badge Earning Criteria

What will learners need to do in order to get the badge?

The activity required for a student to earn a badges is important to consider seriously. For badges to hold real value and to carry authority, assessment and quality is critical. Badges can contain multiple levels of assessment, depending on the use case, community or intended audience. Some require distinct predefined assessment exercises and success criteria while others may be loosely defined and require earner reflection or peer recommendations.

Consider the perspective of both the earner and the issuer when developing badge criteria.

For badge earners:

  • Is the badge sufficiently challenging for the skill or knowledge level of the badge earner?
  • Alternately, is the badge too challenging for the badge earner?
  • Will the badge help the badge earner get a job?

For badge issuers:

  • Hard skills can require standard or more rigid rubrics to compare learner work against.
  • Softer skills can be more fluid and require more open and social assessments like peer reviews or endorsements.
  • For certification badges, intended for audiences like hiring managers, admission boards, more rigorous assessments can be required.
  • For badges intended to simply build community or reward behaviors, simple assessments may be sufficient.

Examples of Badge Touchpoints

Video Game Law Badge.jpg

LAW 423B - Video Game Law Scholar Badge
The Scholar Badge for LAW 423B is earned by students for finding, analyzing, and posting interdisciplinary and legal research papers to the course website.
Library Tutorial Locate Badge Criteria.png UBC Basic Library Skills Tutorial Locate Badge
The Locate Badge for UBC Library's Basic Library Skills Tutorial is earned by students for reviewing video and textual content on locating items in the library and receiving 100% on a quiz within two attempts.

Getting Started

To plan the touchpoints of your badge learning pathway, consider how your badges connect with one another. That is, think about the order in which badges will be earned and answer the following questions.

Selecting a Leveled Badge System - Questions
  • Does the topic covered require the student to have previous knowledge or skills?'
  • Can the activities occur in any order or time during the course or program?
  • Can the student decide which badges they want to earn?

Selecting Badge Earning Criteria - Questions
  • How does the available technology allow badges to be issued?
  • Is the skill or knowledge you are badging a soft skill or hard skill?
  • Does the badge require a person to review the criteria before being issued?

Badge types are the general categories you will issue based on what sort of learning or engagement you are aiming for in your course or program. When planning your badge program design you'll need to decide on the types of badges you plan to issue based on the goals of both the course/program and of the badges themselves. Badge programs will often have a mixture of different types of badges on offer to better align with the goals and objectives of the whole program.

Badge Types

Michael Rojas collaboration.png Participation Badge
A participation badge is based on student involvement throughout the course or program.
For example, a participation badge can be earned by commenting on another student's post.
Fiona OM award.png Recognition Badge
A recognition badge is based on developing a particular skill or competency.
For example, a recognition badge can be earned by creating a video and uploading it to YouTube.
Takao Umehara Trophy.png Achievement Badge
An achievement badge is based on accomplishment, like making something or successfully completing a project or quiz.
For example, an achievement badge can be earned for completing a final quiz for a course module.
Luis Prado giving.png Contribution Badge
A contribution badge is based on recognition of individual or group contributions that bring about a specific result or advancement.
For example, a contribution badge can be earned by receiving the highest rating for a blog post.
Creative Stall diploma.png Certification Badge
A certification badge is based on confirmation of a set of characteristics confirmed through a set of combined criteria (e.g. education, experience, etc.)
For example, a certification badge can be earned for attending and participating in workshops, webinars, and lectures on the same topic.

Example of Badge Type Selection

Controller.png Controller Badge for Video Game Law
Description: LAW423B uses a website for community engagement and development around the subject of video game law.

Goal: The instructor wanted to increase engagement in the web content to further develop the online community and increase open conversation.
Badge Type Selected: The Controller badge is a participation badge type that is earned by making at least ten comments on posts and publishing at least five new blog posts on the Video Game Law website. The purpose of this badge is to both reward and track participation on the website.

Getting Started

To plan the types of badges you will offer in your badge system, consider the following questions.

Selecting Badge Types - Questions
  • What do you broadly hope the badges will achieve for your students and your course/program?
  • Are you badging a specific skill set, knowledge, or ability (e.g. developing a video using Camtasia)?
  • What kind of engagement is expected of the student to earn a badge (e.g. commenting on a blog post)?
Open Badges
Resource Development Portal
Open Badges
Welcome to the resource development wiki for the Open Badges Resource site. We hope you’ll find what you need or jump in and help create new resource.
Associated Pages
CC-BY button.png
The Open Badges resource portal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

A badge which is aesthetically appealing may entice students to claim it, facilitating its purpose as a motivational tool. A beautiful badge is also more likely to be posted to social media, facilitating its purpose as a credential. For these reasons, is it important to design your badge thoughtfully. This guide will provide you with information on how to do so.

Getting Started

An Appropriate Aesthetic

When designing a badge, consider your audience. Adults may have different aesthetic tastes compared to youths, and badges from different disciplinary domains may warrant a different aesthetic. If you are not sure what aesthetic is appropriate for your badge, it might be an idea to look at websites, brochures, and logos associated with your badge concept.

A Meaningful Badge Design

Once you've got a sense of your aesthetic, consider the message you would like your badge to convey. A badge is more likely to have a powerful impact if the message and the visuals align. To identify your key message, it may be helpful to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to make clear the achievement associated with earning the badge?
  • Do you want to make clear the organization that issues the badge?
This badge conveys a clear message.

Once you've identified your key message, consider how you would like to convey it. Do you plan to use images or words?

In what follows, we describe how to deploy words and images for maximum effect.

Designing Text

Picking Fonts

Different fonts convey different messages. For example, Comic Sans may convey a light-hearted message, while Times New Roman may come across as very serious. One way to develop your sensitivity for appropriate fonts is to be observant of how fonts are used in the external world. In addition to selecting a font, you may also want to combine fonts. Often, fonts that look good together belong to the same typeface - that is, to a family of fonts sharing a common design but differing in weight, style, and width, but generally look alike.

For example, here is the Futura family of fonts:


It is also possible to select fonts from different typefaces for a pleasing effect. To do this, the following guides may be helpful

Designing Images

Picking Colours

If you plan to use images to convey your message, consider your colour choices. Generally, it is a good idea to restrict your badge to fewer than three colours. Simplicity is key!

Mozilla Webmaker created a simple badge design using the logo from Thimble, a tool that teaches CSS and HTML. Note the simple lines and shapes.

In the process of designing your badge, it is often a good idea to experiment first with colours that are very different from one another - also known as complementary colours. To help you find complementary colours, Adobe's online program may prove useful - it automatically identifies the complementary colours for any given colour. Adobe's program also offers other methods of identifying pleasing colour combinations.

It also should be noted darker hues tend to look better on screens. As badges will typically be viewed online, darker hues are a good idea.

Picking Shapes

Consider using simple shapes when designing your badge. Simple shapes can powerfully convey your message, which leads to a stronger visual impact. By contrast, clutter can make it difficult to figure out what your badge represents.

Some people are tempted to reuse a brand logo or a department design in their badge icon. While such borrowing is a perfectly acceptable way of experimenting with different designs, it is best if your ultimate design is somewhat distinct from other designs found in your department. You'll want to send a message that your badge is not as easy to obtain as a logo of the department letterhead.

Badge Creator Tools

The following tools provide you options to design your badge image.

If you do not have the resources or the inclination to design your own badge, one alternative is to ask your audience of badge earners to submit their ideas for a badge icon. Not only can this approach generate very interesting designs, but it may also draw people into the badging program.