Badges Go To Graduate School

I’ve just started awarding the first badges from my graduate seminar, IPT 692R: Introduction to Open Education. You can see the first badges I’ve issued here (including some to people outside BYU):

I’ve used a very lightweight mechanism for issuing badges through the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure that I want to share. I know there are more complex, “scalable” systems for doing this, but I wanted to demonstrate that there is nothing stopping a single faculty member who wants to do something innovative from awarding badges in a DIY sort of way. Here’s my process:

1. The .json file is actually quite easy to create by hand – you can see an example here. But make sure you stay within the length guidelines for each field! See Section II of the Onboarding Issuer documentation for more details.

2. The one slightly confusing part of creating the .json file is hashing the recipient’s email address so that the address can’t be harvested for spam. I hashed recipient emails using the following little script:

import hashlib
email = raw_input('Email address? ')
salt = '#ioe12'
hash = hashlib.sha256(email + salt)
print (salt.encode('hex'), hash.hexdigest())

3. I included one line of javascript in the Badges Earned page so that I could use the Issuer API:


4. Finally, next to each name on the Badges Earned page, I placed a single “claim” link (using javascript) that awardees can use to claim their badges:


The result?


Now, in addition to getting a grade on a transcript that no one will ever see, my students are getting multiple, tamper-proof badges, with links to supporting evidence, that potential employers can see, judge, and validate TODAY. I’m pretty excited.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Scott Leslie April 11, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Hey, so you are one of the first I know to play with this so I have a question. I got myself a badges backpack and published a “group” –

    But presumably there’s some way as an earner of these badges to display this fact *somewhere else* than on this one site. Yet for the life of me I can’t find a way to embed these badges I’ve earned elsewhere. I’m I just being thick, or is it that this functionality hasn’t been released, or is my understanding of badges so off that this will never be the case?

    Also, I’m assuming the “Badges Earned” page is more of a proof of concept than a typical usage pattern – while the email address/browserID mechanism does work to make sure I can’t claim someone else’s badge, presumably in a normal scenario I’d never even be presented with a link to claim someone else’s badge, but instead a more generic “claim this badge” that was at the end of some criteria I’d passed or behind a password somewhere that I could only reach in the event I met the criteria. Otherwise it might lead to confusion.

    • opencontent April 14, 2012, 7:48 am

      Scott, I’m working on this. There’s an API available to build a widget from, and Joshua Gay and I have just about finished hacking a first version of a displayer widget for use on your blog, LinkedIn, etc. Will announce it on my blog when it’s ready.

    • opencontent April 18, 2012, 8:46 am

      Scott, check out

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  • Antonio M. Arboleda April 14, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Great initiative. My students would love it.

    We need much more than simply marks and feedback.

    I guess that as soon as there is a ready-made application for teachers to create and award these, it will take off big style. 

    “Unregulated” grassroot free use and experimentation is needed, though, to try, test and consolidate the use of these badgets at each institution. That way, students will start demanding them.

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  • John May 3, 2012, 2:21 am

    Am i correct to think you have to create a json file for every student you award the badge too and host this file ?

    so there is no one badge json file just a png but could be loads for student json files with the badge data inside?

    Sorry i’m just trying to get my head around this