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We’ve talked a ton about BadgeKit over the past few months from its initial announcement back in October at Mozfest to BadgeKit MVP defining, tech defining, user experience design, to more recently BadgeKit for Cities

Many of these posts pointed to BadgeKit being made available at the Digital Media & Learning conference, this year taking place in Boston from March 6 through 8. 

And we’re finally here! We will be making BadgeKit available to organizations interested in issuing open badges. As previously mentioned, this initial release of BadgeKit targets organizations, like cities, who want to stand up larger-scale badge systems. This was a natural evolution of the work we did for Chicago Summer of Learning last year and the tools we developed to support that initiative such as Badge Studio (badge design tool), Open Badger (badge defining and issuing tool) and Aestimia (badge application and assessment tool). 

So what will this initial release of BadgeKit entail for issuing organizations?


* Enable access control

The issuing organization can create an uber admin login and from there grant some level of access control like who gets to issue a badge and who gets to assess/review a badge. We are thinking about adding more granularity down the road with ongoing user feedback and issuer requests. 

* Design a badge


The issuing organization can get started on designing and defining their badges. BadgeKit will support the full badge life cycle states from draft form, published to archived. The badge design and defining experience will be scaffolded through the introduction of templates. An example of templatizing badges can be found in the badges designed and issued as part of Chicago Summer of Learning. These badges all shared a hexagonal shape and a Chicago city banner that hung across it. 



This is an example of templates used to create consistent badge design but they can also be used for content creation. Some badges that are part of the same program may share similar information, like issuing organization name, program name, including elements of criteria. Rather than the issuing organization having to rewrite this information with each new badge, templates can help build on templatized content. We think templates can greatly help streamline the badge creation process for organizations. 

* Create badges that level up

Not only that, issuing organizations can build in leveling up features into their badge system. We are calling these milestone badges. An issuer can define the set of badges that together unlock a larger badge, which we are calling a milestone badge. 

* Issue a badge via email

The issuing organization will be able to issue a badge using the earner’s email. However, as perviously mentioned, BadgeKit is intended to be a backend admin support for issuing orgs who have existing sites where their communities reside. When a badge is issued to an earner via email on BadgeKit, this information is relayed to the issuing org’s application for the issuing org to determine how the badge will actually be delivered, whether via email, SMS or message in a bottle. Badge issuing via email is supported through the BadgeKit API with the issuer, customizing specific experiences according to their community needs and desires. 

* Display a badge on Issuer site via BadgeKit API

The issuing organization will be able to pull all the badges they have designed and created on BadgeKit onto their own website through an API and customize the badge interaction experience for their community of badge earners. 

* Support earners to apply for a badge on issuer site via BadgeKit API

When an earner is on the issuer site and comes across a badge that she would like to earn and can apply for online, she can do so. The earner, or prospective earner in this case, can click through and see the badge criteria and apply for the badge by submitting relevant information and evidence. This experience is supported by the BadgeKit API. 

* Assess a badge 

Once the prospective earner has submitted all relevant information on the issuer site, that badge application becomes accessible on the badgekit.org site to badge assessors/reviewers who have been granted the appropriate access controls from the issuing organization. Assessors/reviewers can then see the queue of badge applications and start evaluating them based on pre-defined criteria and/or rubrics. They can provide feedback and determine whether to issue or deny the earner of the badge. As mentioned in bullet 4, the earner experience of the actual delivery of the badge is defined by the issuer. 

* Support earners to send their earned badges to federated backpacks

n.b. Federated backpack feature will come later this month

Because BadgeKit is integrated with the open badges standard and APIs, the earner has the opportunity to send their earned badges to federated backpacks where they can decide how they want to further share it out to various social media channels. 

*

In addition to all this, it’s worth noting the brand definition work that our designers took on. We have a nice streamlined BadgeKit logo that is cohesive with the parent brand of Open Badges as well as Mozilla. This work was led by our designer Adil Kim with the guidance of our Creative Lead, Jess Klein who has written about this in greater detail in her blogpost: http://jessicaklein.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-designing-badgekit.html


We’ve made a lot of progress in the past few months but we still have a lot of work to do. As you can see, this initial release is focused on issuing organizations who have some level of technical resources and have an existing community-facing site into which they can integrate their badge system. Thereby it seemed appropriate to call this release private beta.

However, the goal is to make this more widely accessible in subsequent releases. As you well know, we develop and design in the open so all our code, sketches, wireframes and staging information are in fact out there for anyone to keep an eye on and poke holes at.

We’re excited to have reached this major milestone and look forward to feedback from issuing organizations who start to plug in!

n.b. We realize there may be a bunch of questions so we’ve put together some FAQs so take a look! http://badgekit.org/help Thanks to you all and as per yooszh, more to come!