Redeeming Gift Cards and Badges

It seems like many people struggle to understand how the Open Badge Infrastructure works. Here’s an analogy that I’ve recently found helpful.

Say your friend buys you an Amazon or iTunes gift card for your birthday. When your friend buys the gift card, they are required to provide your email address, both so that (1) the store knows where to send the gift card and (2) the store can verify you’re you when you come to claim the gift card. After your friend completes the purchase, you receive an email containing a special code. To redeem the gift card, you go to a website, verify your identity, and enter the code. After you enter the code, a certain amount of credit appears in your account, which you can spend however you like.

Badges are “redeemed” in much the same way. Say you participate in an online course. When you complete the requirements (e.g., pass the final test), the systems prompts you for your name and email address both so that (1) the systems knows where to send the badge and (2) they can verify you’re you when you claim the badge. After you’ve completed the course requirements, you are presented with a special code (which in the case of a badge is a URL). To redeem the badge, you take this code to a Backpack site, verify your identity, and enter the code. You may even be automatically sent to the site, and only need to verify your identity in order to redeem the badge. Either way, the badge then appears in your Backpack and you can do whatever you like with it at that point.

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