Never underestimate the potential outcomes and echoes of a shot from the hip, mostly uninformed blog post. A few clicks back I blogged some thoughts, questions, and over generalizations on Seeking Evidence of Badge Evidence.

To be honest, I looked only at a scant handful of badges, and was a tad dis-appointed in those that, while the specifications for open badges have a place for evidence, in ones I looked it, I found them lacking.

It got picked up some by folks in twitter, and I got a lot of really useful resources and counter examples in the comments to the post (stuff I am still working my way through), but was (as the say in the UK) “chuffed” to be invited by Nate Otto to a Badge Alliance weekly community call.

That link alone, here again, is rather impressive in regards to the way this group works. Kudos to Nate for leading it. There is an etherpad with extensive notes, a link to the audio archive.

Also in this series of events, I met up with a bunch of folks working in this area I had not connected to before, and internationally, that alone was worth being part of the call.

Okay, there’s a lot more to badges than my cheap shots might have indicated. There is a lot of work on the technical side, and a large amount of experimentation. A whole lotta of badging going on. And a whole lotta groups/outfits offering platforms. Quite a lot.

It may be worth unpacking what “evidence” means. As I said in the call, I saw some of it conflated with badge criteria. But the word itself suggest an idea of irrefutable proof, like crime evidence. That if all these webs of trusts are trusted, we can feel confidence if it’s in the badge, then we can trust it.

And that might work for certain skills, achievements. I remain stuck in my own ideas that a collection of badges, stackable or not, verifiable or not, is not quite enough for a person to demonstrate to the world what they can do. That it should work together (not either/or) with the ways in which we ourselves show the world what we can do.

I was rather struck that even Doug Belshaw in the call mentioned that he has seen little to no good evidence in badges. Others said it was important, but is still maybe something in progress? This is after all, a rather highly evolving space.

Hearing of an implementation in the Houston School District was enlightening

That link is to an Edsurge piece So You Want to Drive Instruction With Digital Badges? Start With the Teachers:

Participating teachers advance through a series of inquiry-based professional development modules. Teachers are awarded a digital badge for the successful completion of each 10-hour module. To accomplish this, they must complete the following steps: 1) study module content, 2) participate in a focused discussion with peers working on the same module, 3) create an original inquiry-based global lesson plan that incorporates new learning, 4) implement the original lesson plan in the classroom, 5) provide evidence of classroom implementation and 6) reflect on and revise the lesson created.

The final product of every module is a tested, global lesson plan that articulates learning objectives, activities, assessments, and resources for each stage of inquiry. Upon completion, teachers may publish finalized lessons in a resource library where they can be accessed by other educators. As designed, the HISD badging system will be a four-year, 16-badge approach that equates to 160 hours of professional learning for teachers.

To me that is quite a lot of evidence. I do not know what what kind of system (proprietary?) provides it?

But what I do walk away with is an appreciation that it’s bot about one technology, or system, or protocol versus another, that badges alone (or portfolio/blogs) where not get us to where we want. What’s more important is the way in which these things are implements, the human design principles in how they are put into play.

Even with a system of trust and issuer assurance, don’t we still rely heavily on reputation? In some ways, these indicators on the Badge Alliance indicate some measure of value based on the earned reputations of the organizations indicated. Not anything in their badges, but what they represent?


This of course is built into the design of open badges, there is a discussion of the value of endorsement in the RFC paper for open badges

(my highlights)

(my highlights)

I of course am not saying anything that is new. We know endorsements have value, but there are also plenty of meaningless ones (I am remembering LinkedIn where I collected one for “okra folding”) (and I cannot fold okra).

I appreciate being invited to this call, though I am not quite sure if I have much to contribute.

The new project I am working on with Creative Commons is definitely a credential they want to issue, and be able to verify. We are not even close to knowing yet how this will be done, if it will be via a badge or something else. I’m just on my first baby steps in a long term project, and I have a ton to learn first. The wheels are just starting to turn…

Top / Featured Image: I did some preliminary image searches (google, with filter on for licensed to reuse) on “alliance” and found some potential images of logos and word clouds. But then I scrolled a bit and noticed this old time post card for the Farmers Alliance Insurance Company. Given my interest in westerns, and the juxtaposition of old and new modes of transport, I thought it might be fun (as I start to think about what I might write) to Photoshop in some new text.

The original image is By Boston Public Library [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons; my remix is in terms also licensed the same. Why the heck not?

If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Profile Picture for cogdog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Good stuff, Alan. This particular sequence of events felt much more like the way things used to happen in the blogosphere of 10 years ago! 🙂

  2. Maybe that is Alan’s point. We already have the infrastructure to gather the communities necessary to provide the credibility credentialing needs and a publishing pathway to document evidence. Who needs badging if you’ve got blogging?

    Gimme a federated network of blogs, educators or orgs running shared hosting and be able to “vouch” for other servers and bring them into a social circle. An integrated reader with credentialing aligned to open standards, throw in a social media stream and I would be a very happy camper.

    I think we are getting close. If that doesn’t work Alan might be right. A blog and an rss feed is really all most people interested in badges need.

    Alan in terms of the metaphor maybe its not those we have mixed up but our pathway design.

    What if you started your credentialing journey with the questions: “What could people make and do to spread the Creative Commons message? What does the Creative Commons community need made?”

    Then think about or look at all the cool stuff people made and decide what this provides evidence of. Maybe our problem with badges is their a priori design.

    1. While I’d dream of a world where everyone self publishes their work and methods, and everyone else make use of RSS Feeds…. /slap reality.

      No, what you describe is important, but I think it’s part of the answer, not the whole answer. There are places for trusted organizations to grant some kind of outside assurance / checks to the skills of the person. If I was looking for a plumber (or a theoretical physicist?), would I trust solely as the means for me decision what they say about themselves? I would use that, but I’d also want to know if they are licensed/bonded and maybe what other people have to say about their work. I seek a fuller ecosystem.

      Thanks for the notes about the questions. The making of CC content is part of the plan, but also an understanding/application of way sharing is done, how it is communicated, and also maybe on the reuse of content, not just the making. What is in the mix is that the evidence will be things that show what people “DO” and that this evidence is visible in the world. And also, interestingly, when Paul described the approach for the content part of the project, is that we plan not to create alot, since much is “out there”, and in fact, before assembling the content, he wants us to figure out how we will assess/check the things that will be performance outcomes. e.g. the things that will be checked for fitting specs of the credential. What, not starting with content? Is that crazy?

      1. Can the Creative Commons API that I use at the bottom of my website become more restrictive. In other words could I submit X number of projects and get certified that I am “creative Commons Compliant….but not worded in such a big brother way.

        Paul needs to leverage your rockstar status in the open ed movement. A short 4-6 week program on basics of Creative Commons would be pretty cool. Not sure you would even have to make the content. Could find a partner. Could curate the existing content.

        You could make the course a playlist and try for one of the DML 50K playlist grants.
        You just lend your name, show up for a video or two. Credential participants at the end.

        On a segue I know one thing I want to teach myself is to fork you Flickr CC attributor and make it so it spits out stuff I can use in bootstrap or skeleton frameworks. So for example it might be as simple as adding img class=”img-responsive”

        If I had any real ability I would fool around with column selections so I get pictures to go where I want them. So instead of in the drop down menu where I pick html pixel sizes I would pick the div containers with the column rows set up for 12,4,6,2 etc.

        1. It’s only my third day of an 18 month project! I have no idea how it works. The credential is more than showing you are compliant or being a license checker; I think the idea is to also be able to certify you understand and utilize the principles of that style of copyright in the work you do.

          Part of the design is actually creating what you describe for the current funders of the project; actual workshops for higher ed, for librarians, and for government employees. But the materials will be openly available for anyone else to do on their own, or remix (I think, this is again paraphrasing from the very first meeting I had with Paul).

          Hey, you are throwing other stuff in the comments. Good!

          What you suggest for Flickr Attributor is definitely possible for use in responsive themes — a simple way to do it would be to change the image width to be 100%; I often do that manually, or as you suggest, adding the class bootstrap uses. The way I go about this is I use the system I am trying to make it work, and do a mockup as static HTML; then when it gets to appear the way I want, I generalize the HTML to mix in what the tool spits out.

          Getting to a page generator is a bit beyond the tool; you are welcome to try, but that would end up being a bit too specific to one kind of layout. The idea is to create whatever HTML you need to copy paste into one of those divs, not actually code out the divs. The problem might be using a large image inside a 1/12 column as overkill for the size of image size downloaded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *