Openness and Open Badge Platforms

At the February 6th Mozilla Open Badges Community Call, Chris Lawrence from the Hive Learning Network brought up the issue of  Badge Platforms not supporting open sharing.  Since Mozilla Open Badges are still very new, it isn’t very surprising that Badge Platforms are not yet interoperable.  Most of the badge platforms are still very much works in progress.  All of these badge platforms that support Mozilla Open Badges, do at least, allow learners to send the badge awards they earn to the Open Badge Backpack.

Since that discussion, we’ve been thinking about what openness means for us and ForAllBadges.  We came up with some ideals about what openness would mean to us:

  • affordable:  Preferably free.
  • open source:  With a current version of source code available on a public site.
  • accessible:  All users can access and use the software on their own.
  • private: By default no access is available to a user’s personal information and the user controls any access to their personal information.
  • transferable: Users own their own badge designs and award data and have the ability to easily download all their data in a reasonable format.

Once an organization chooses a badge platform, what issues lock the organization into their current badge platform and make it difficult to switch to another badge platform?

  1. Badge system designs.  At the current time there isn’t a standard way to export your badge system designs from one badge platform and  import the badge system design for use on another Badge Platform.  If you want to move your badge system from the badge platform you’re currently using, you would need to re-enter it by hand.
  2. Badge award data.  As you issue badges, the badge award information is stored by the Badge Platform in their database.  Right now there isn’t a standard way to export the award information and migrate the data to a new Badge Platform.  It can be very difficult to retrieve information about who you have issued badge awards too and which badges have been earned.
  3. The Open Backpack.  As I understand how the Open Backpack works (please let me know if I’m wrong), once you issue an award to a badge earner, you don’t have anyway to change the url for the badge assertion.  If you’re using a badge platform, it seems this means you’re permanently committed to the badge platform that you used to issue the badge.

We still have a lot more thoughts about Openness and Open Badges, but think I’ll put those thoughts in future posts since we’re eager to hear what openness for Open Badge Platforms means to others.

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