Digital Badges FAQ – Organisations

Frequently Asked Questions about Open Badges

From your perspective as a humanitarian organisation or learning service provider.

What is a digital badge?

A digital badge is a digital credential that can be shared and verified online.

A digital badge contains similar information to a traditional paper certificate, but provides more detail, is more secure, more useful and much more easy to share over networks, through social media and other methods.

Technically speaking, it is an image file (typically PNG) that contains credentialing information that is “baked into” it. The credentialing information is formatted according to the Open Badge standard.

Other types of digital badges exist. They may be simple images or shareable only on the platforms they were created on, for purposes such as gamification. But digital badges that are Open Badges can be displayed on any system that supports the Open Badge standard. This makes them portable and fit for professional recognition. This means that humanitarians can carry forward the badges they earn into new organisations and careers.

What information can be found inside a digital badge?

Badge information includes:

  • Badge name
  • Issuer
  • Recipient (or Earner) The identity of the badge earner, encrypted to protect personal privacy, but authentically verifiable.
  • Description
  • Tags that can help find or make sense of the badge (optional)
  • Criteria for earning the badge
  • Date of issue
  • Date of expiry (optional)
  • Alignment to skills frameworks (optional)
  • Evidence that demonstrates achievement of the criteria (optional)
  • Endorsements by other parties (optional)
  • Translations into other languages (optional)

Who is behind the Open Badge standard for digital badges?

The Open Badges Specification was developed by Mozilla Foundation in 2011. On January 1, 2017, IMS Global became the organization responsible for the advancement of the Open Badges specification and community. Detailed technical information about the standard can be found at Open Badges 2.0.

Why does HPass use digital badges?

Digital badges can recognize learning, skills and experience. They can inspire individual humanitarians along career pathways and help humanitarian organisations make their staff and volunteers more effective. Digital badges can visually identify the learning and development goals of organisations - they can also help track progress in reaching those goals. Many humanitarian organisations have identified benefits that might be provided to the sector through the use of digital badges. Key among these benefits are:

  • The ability to recognise learning and skills regardless how they were acquired, so that authentic humanitarian experience can be recognised as well as formal learning
  • Transparency and verifiability as to source, rigour and quality
  • The ability to align with the Core Humanitarian Competency Framework and other useful frameworks
  • Alignment with an open technology standard to ensure their portability for users as they move between organisations

HPass is working toward a vision where:

  • Humanitarians will be able to search badge catalogues to seek and be recognised for new skills
  • Employers will be able to search for skilled workers through a badge-enabled “skills registry”

Who can earn digital badges?

Digital badges are most often awarded to individual badge earners. However, organisations may also be awarded badges for achievements or attainment of standards.

How are digital badges earned?

Many badge issuers award digital badges based on successful completion of courses and workshops. These can be face to face or online learning opportunities. However, there are many other useful contexts for awarding badges, such as through assessment that is unrelated to a course.

Examples include:

  • Standardised tests
  • Structured practitioner interviews
  • Structured workplace observations
  • Demonstrations and simulations
  • Portfolios and targeted evidence packages
  • Development of new documents or other work-related products
  • Professional reflection, such as through journals, structure reflection or critical incident accounts

Digital badges may also recognise affiliations and achievements, such as:

  • Membership in organisations and associations
  • Community service
  • Deployment experience

How can you evaluate the quality or value of a digital badge?

Digital badges provide more information about quality than traditional paper credentials. Here are some ways that you can determine the value of a badge from your perspective:

  • Issuer
    Do you know the issuer organisation? Does the issuer organisation meet sector-recognised standards such as Learning Provider Standards and/or Assessment Provider Standards?
  • Criteria
    What was required to earn the badge? Was there some kind of assessment involved?
  • Evidence
    Is there evidence provided about how this earner earned this badge?
  • Alignment
    Is the badge aligned to a competency framework that you value? This can be a horizontal or transversal framework, such as the Core Humanitarian Competency Framework. Or it can be a vertical or specialty framework that describes competencies in a technical domain.
  • Endorsement
    Has a third party endorsed the badge? This can be a formal endorsement, such as “HPass Approved” endorsement for organisations who have successfully demonstrated alignment with the HPass Standards or less formal peer endorsement, such as an organisation saying “we recognise this badge.”

How can digital badges benefit me as a Learning or Assessment Provider?

You may wish to issue badges to recognise successful completion of your learning programs or competency assessments. When earners display your badges they are not only displaying what they know and can do, they are also displaying where and how they acquired the badges, increasing the digital profile of your offerings in the humanitarian community.

You may also wish to earn endorsements for your organisation from HPass or other badge issuers who can validate your expertise, service quality or other differentiating attributes. This will help promote your organisation in an authentic way.

Can digital badges be added to online courses?

Yes, the HPass badging platform can already be integrated with several kinds of e-learning platforms and Learning Management Systems through “plugins”, including:

  • Moodle
  • Totara - the platform behind services such as Kaya, UNICEF’s Agora and MSF’s eCampus
  • Blackboard
  • D2L Brightspace
  • Canvas

Using a plugin, e-learning outcomes such as course completion inside the LMS can trigger badges in Open Badge Factory.

Currently there is no integrated plugin for the CornerstoneOnDemand platform which serves systems such as DisasterReady.org and IFRC/ICRC’s Learning Platform. However, DisasterReady is using an alternative method to produce digital badges that can be shared in HPass.

New plugins can be developed for other platforms in small projects if funding is available. Contact us to learn more.

Important point: you don’t need a learning management system
Digital badges can be issued in many ways, not just through learning management systems. Organisations can develop multi-channel badge issuing strategies that could include e-learning courses, self-regulated learning programs, face-to-face workshops and even workplace assessment and development.

How can my organisation become a digital badge issuer?

HPass is piloting the service with sponsored access for a limited number of early adopter organisations from April through September 2018. Depending on demand, there may be space for other organisations to join the pilot for exploration of digital badges. Contact us if you are interested in becoming an early adopter

The public service will be launched on a paid subscription basis in 2019 for humanitarian organisations eligible for HPass.

How can my organisation become “eligible for HPass”?

HPass will not require that organisations be assessed or audited in order to become issuers of badges on the HPass service. However, organisations must agree to support the HPass Learning and Assessment Provider Standards and to comply with the other Terms of Use in order to use the service.

How can my organisation become “HPass Approved”?

Issuers of digital badges on HPass can ask other organisations to endorse their organisations or their badges. This increases the value of their badges, depending on the identity and credibility of the endorser and the details of the endorsement.

As a special case of endorsement, HPass will accredit organisations as “HPass Approved” if they can demonstrate audited compliance with the HPass Standards, as described in the quality assurance mechanism (QAM).

Do I need special skills to become an digital badges issuer?

It helps if you use learning management systems or other web applications already, but you don’t require special skills, except as described below. During the pilot, early adopter organisations will be oriented to the badging service through tutorials, guides, and other forms of support. Special skills are needed for:

  • Visual badge design
    We recommend that organisations who want to issue badges seriously use professional designers to develop their badge graphics. There is an online badge design tool, but it is recommended only for experiments, “mockups” and placeholder use.
  • Integration with other platforms
    Webmaster skills are needed to integrate the HPass service to a learning management system using existing plugins. If you already have a learning management system, you likely have access to those skills. Programming skills are needed to develop new plugins. Plugin programming can be outsourced.

How should my organisation start exploring digital badges as a badge issuer?

We recommend that organisations start off simply, through hands-on exploration with small experiments, building richness and sophistication over time. Hands-on exploration will help dispel mistaken assumptions and familiarise you with the system's capabilities. This will help your planning.

An exploration sequence might include:

  • Earn a badge as an individual
  • Issue a simple badge manually to a colleague
  • Issue badges by other methods: badge application forms, integration with learning management systems such as Kaya, etc.
  • Develop badge pathways with milestones
  • Explore other features of the system: badge issuer networks, seeking and awarding endorsements, etc.

HPass has developed a Badging Fundamentals workbook for early adopter organisations in the pilot that follows a similar sequence. Contact us for details.

How can I use digital badges as an employer or volunteer organisation?

You may want to use badges to evaluate the skills of candidates. You may also choose to endorse certain badges, encouraging candidates to earn these badges to increase their chances of being engaged by you. In this way, you can improve your quality of hire.

You may also use digital badges for your incumbent workforce, encouraging employees and volunteers to earn badges for their professional development or by recognising their achievements. You can flag certain badges to signal desired skills and track their acquisition. You may also wish to become a badge issuer yourself in order to recognise your internal training and assessment programs or for public talent pipeline engagement programs that you may be running.

HPass is working to improve the system so that you will be able to search for skilled workers through a badge-enabled “skills registry”.

How does the HPass platform work?

The HPass system is currently composed of two platforms:

  • Open Badge Factory, a badge issuing platform offered from servers in Europe. This service is available to organisations on a subscription basis; organisations that are eligible for HPass are permitted to direct their issued badges to:
  • myHPass, a storage and display platform offered by HPass, configured as a central skills hub for the humanitarian sector. This service is free for individual badge earners.

How are badges issued and earned?

Organisations can issue badges through a variety of methods, such as:

  • Manually via email, perhaps after a face-to-face workshop
  • Through claim codes that earners can redeem for badges
  • Through “Badge applications” (questionnaire forms that can be assessed by qualified reviewers)
  • By integration with learning management systems s such as Moodle or Totara or online community platforms, such as Wordpress. For example, certain courses on Kaya issue Open Badges.

How are badges accepted and shared?

Badge earners receive links to their badges by email and are guided to create free accounts to accept and store their badges on myHPass. Once accepted, badges can be made public and shared individually or on Pages with other badges and additional evidence of skills such as CVs. Individual badges and Pages can both be shared on social media.

Does HPass accept badges earned in other systems?

Yes, as long as they comply with the Open Badge standard. Open Badges issued from other systems outside HPass such as Moodle, Credly and Badgr, can be uploaded to myHPass by badge earners.

What will HPass cost for an organisation?

Organisations can already subscribe to Open Badge Factory at different levels. HPass is working to develop a cost structure for participating humanitarian organisations, using the cost structure of Open Badge Factory as a starting point. For more information, go to openbadgefactory.com.

Are there other requirements for organisations?

According to the Terms and Conditions of the HPass service, organisational users acknowledge that they have read the following standards and agree to be guided by them:

Organisational users may also be optionally further recognised as “HPass Approved” if they can demonstrate audited compliance with the HPass standards using the Quality Assurance Mechanism. This will make their badges more visible and accessible to badge earners and badge consumers who seek HPass quality-marked learning or assessment providers.

We do not share your information with other organisations without your permission. For more information see our Privacy Policy.

We do not share your information with other organisations without your permission. For more information see our Privacy Policy.