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Open Badges

I’ve recently been looking into the Open Badges Framework, with a goal of being able to understand what it is from a high-level technical standpoint.

The Open Badge Specification provides a standard for issuing badges

The key participants in the open badge system are:

  • the badge issuer
  • badge displayers
  • badge earners
  • a badge backpack

A badge issuer will create a badge and issue it to a badge earner. The badge will consist of a number of cryptographically verifiable assertions about the badge. With the earners consent an issuer may publish the badge to a badge backpack.

There is a reference implementation of a badge backpack implemented by mozilla. This reference impementation is hosted out of the united states, and is probably the default way to publish badges. The source code for the reference implementation has also been made available for download and deployment (

In a healthy open badge ecosystem, there would be a small number of badge backpacks, a larger number of issuers, and an even larger number of earners.

Every organisation that wants to issue badges would need to be an issuer, but most organisations would (and should) be able to use a standard backpack. That said, when dealing with children, legal rules may lead to the creation of regional badge backpacks.