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The Open Badges team, with the rest our colleagues at Mozilla Foundation, are headed to London this week for our annual Mozilla Festival. Some of you may recall that it was at this very annual festival, 2 years ago in 2010 under the banner, “Learning, Freedom and the Web” that Open Badges was born.

Learning, Freedom and the Web

The theme for this year’s event is “Making, Freedom and the Web" and Michelle Thorne, our Global Event Strategist, with the help of many, many people, has put together an action-packed weekend all to underline our overarching ethos of “less yack, more hack”; Let’s make, remix, hack and tweak and see what we learn in the process. Let’s earn badges to represent the learning we’ve done and the skills we’ve accomplished. 

We’ll be getting our hands dirty this weekend, introducing all the latest from webmaker (more on that from Erin) and all its tools and projects and a slew of others. 

On the Open Badges front, we have 2 themed sessions planned; 

Designing Open Badges in the Wild

We’ve been talking about Open Badges at a higher introductory level for quite some time now and we felt it was time to take the conversation further during this year’s event. There is tremendous work around Badges happening in the UK and Europe, with Doug Belshaw, our Skills and Badges lead, guiding and advancing the conversation. 

Leaning on the partner relations cultivated through Doug and fellow colleague of ours, John Bevan, we thought we should take advantage of the locality of the event in London and really highlight the work taking place in and around the UK. We invited several of these partners to join us in the conversation, showcase their work around badges and share lessons learned. But we wanted to stay true to the Mozilla maker motto by allowing a forum for active making. 

Thus we’ve created a 2 hr session broken into 2 halves in which participants can go in and out. 

The first hour will allow for session participants to get introduced and talk about their various badging interests and efforts. From there we intend to capture key areas of interest and allow those conversations to really flourish and build, much in an unconference-y fashion. 

The second hour, we will regroup from our discussion from the earlier hour. If participants would like to continue with their breakout conversations, we will encourage it. If folks would like to switch gears, we’ve prepared a mini badge design activity that will encourage participants to think through the various components of designing a badge within a larger badge system and how it would play within the Open Badge ecosystem. 

We are excited about the session and look forward to connections being made among the participants, lessons being shared, conversations being advanced and ideas being generated all to advance our work in Open Badges. 

Make Open Badges Better I and II at the Webmaker Bar

With Mike Larsson at the helm, our development team has been working hard at introducing a slew of user experience enhancements in the Backpack. The list of updates that we’ve been working towards with Mozfest in mind can be found in our github

Unfortunately, we’ve encountered some snags along the way and the release of the neatly packaged Backpack UX improvements looks like it’ll be delayed. Not to be discouraged, we are moving forward with the playtest session. Rather than testing out specific new UX releases, we’ will be utilizing paper prototypes of the original designs to frame the conversation and get participant feedback on various aspects of the backpack from groups, share, tagging, and privacy settings etc. 

Paper prototype example

We intend for these 2 playtest sessions to be casual but are aiming to engage as many users as possible throughout the festival; meaning, while we have 2 formally scheduled playtest sessions, we’ll be doing a lot of informal playtesting in the form of conversational information gathering about the backpack and the various features we’ve developed or intend to develop. The last count I heard was that we were anticipating over 1000 attendees at the festival. We’d love to reach as many of these folks as possible to share what we’re building, gather feedback and improve the overall experience user’s have when interacting with Open Badges. 

If you’re headed to Mozilla Festival, we hope you get the chance to come join us during one of our sessions. If you’re unable to, we’ll make sure to report back during our weekly community call!