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This past summer, the Open Badges team had the great opportunity of introducing digital badges at a citywide scale through the Chicago Summer of Learning (CSOL). We worked in collaboration with the city and on the ground organizations like Hive Chicago and Digital Youth Network with the support of the MacArthur foundation to reach out to more than 100 Chicago-based organizations to create an end-to-end badging system.

As mentioned in my previous blogpost, to support this initiative, we created a set of tools and services to help the 100+ Chicago based organizations to design, define, assess, and issue badges and for participating learners to collect, manage, share and discover badges

Following a successful summer of learning, we’ve been getting increased interest from other cities and organizations who would like to replicate the badging model initiated in Chicago. We’re thrilled about this interest and would like to facilitate the adoption of other CSOL like initiatives in a scalable way. This would entail us going back to the tools and services we built for CSOL and for the ecosystem, modularizing them, and making them readily implementable for organizations in a light-weight, open-source way. 

The idea is to make it as simple as possible for organizations to pick up the specific tool they need for their badge system development and implement it into their environments. Time and time again, we’ve heard that the barrier to entry is still too high. We want to lower that barrier. With that in mind, we started writing down the requirements and goals for what this collection of tools might be. 

The key verbs that we kept using over and over again when trying to get crisp about this tool collection were as follows:

  • Design badges: Enable organizations (or individuals) to visually design their badges
  • Define badges: Enable organizations (or individuals) to define the information behind the badge according to the open badges standard, i.e. metadata specification
  • Assess badges: Enable organizations to define rubrics for assessment and assess the badges accordingly
  • Issue badges: Enable organizations (or individuals) to issue their badges once the criteria is met
  • Collect and manage badges: Enable learners to see all the badges they have earned in one place, organize and manage them
  • Share badges: Enable learners to share their earned badges easily across the web
  • Discover badges: Enable learners, issuers (and down the road employers) to discover new badges and badge owners


We took those verbs and matched them with the tools we had built either for CSOL or as part of building out our ecosystem and they aligned as follows:

  • Design - Badge Studio
  • Define - Open Badger
  • Assess - Aestimia
  • Issue - Open Badger
  • Collect & manage - Backpack
  • Share - Backpack
  • Discover - CSOL Backpack


So we already have a lot of the components of what would comprise this stack of tools, which we’ve started calling BadgeKit. But we have work to do in order to clean these component pieces up and modularize them into light-weight, open-source tools that would work like Lego pieces that an organization or individual can build and stack according to their tailored needs. 

At this moment, we’re finalizing and cleaning up the requirements for each verb. And we want you to weigh in. We’ll be holding a BadgeKit session at the upcoming Mozfest during which we’ll explore with the community, questions on how this toolstack could benefit them. 

We want to tackle questions like the following:

  • What are the challenges you foresee and or have endured in developing a badge system?
  • What focus would you like to see developed to satisfy your badge system development needs?
  • What are the use cases for BadgeKit that we should explore further?


We’ll be talking a lot more about the BadgeKit moving forward at Mozfest, during our community calls and on our mailing lists. The community is a critical part of the development of BadgeKit since it is being built precisely to service our community interested in being a part of the open badges ecosystem. We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts on BadgeKit and incorporating your feedback. 

In the mean time, here’s  a teaser BadgeKit postcard created by our own Jess Klein:

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n.b. the url will go live at Mozfest. 

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