How is an Open Badge Constructed?
It is important to understand a few key terms and concepts before designing a system that supports Open Badges.
Open Badge — Open Badges are verifiable, portable digital badges with embedded metadata about skills and achievements. They comply with the Open Badges standard and are shareable across the web. Each Open Badge is associated with an image and information about the badge, its recipient, the issuer, and any supporting evidence.
Issuing Open Badges requires constructing and publishing a set of interconnected resources that follow the structure and guidelines set out in the Open Badges standard. A single Open Badge (sometimes called a “badge instance”) consists of a unique set of one each of an Issuer, BadgeClass, and an Assertion, though the Issuer and BadgeClass are often shared across many Badge Instances. When each resource has been created, the Assertion may be “baked” into the badge image, and the badge may be delivered to the recipient. A "baked badge" is a unique characteristic of an Open Badge that ensures the recipient can move the badge from one platform (issuing system) to another (e.g., passport or backpack tool).
- Issuer Profile — describes the individual or organization awarding badges. The information in the profile will appear in the metadata for all badges, including name, description, contact email address, and website URI.
- BadgeClass — the formal description of a single achievement the Issuer recognizes. This includes information such as the name, description, and of course the graphic image that’s the visual face of the badge, but also links to detailed criteria for how the badge may be earned and the Issuer profile that created it. A human-readable criteria page and an image file visually symbolizing the accomplishment must be published at a stable URL. Many Assertions may be issued from a single BadgeClass.
- Assertion — the record of an individual’s achievement of the badge. The Assertion links to one BadgeClass and contains the information specific to one recipient’s achievement of the badge’s criteria, like the date it was awarded, the encoded recipient identifier it was awarded to, and optionally a link to evidence and expiration date.
Issuer — An application that enables the creation of BadgeClasses and the subsequent issuing of Assertions to earners that conform to the Open Badges specification.
Displayer — An application that displays Open Badges with their associated metadata and also offers verification functionality.
Host — An application that can import, aggregate, and publicly host Open Badges for earners while also supporting the export of badges at the recipient's request.
See the Glossary for more key terms.
This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Decision: Build vs. Buy
A key decision for any organization that desires to create, issue, and manage Open Badges is whether to build the functionality into an existing platform or license access to an external platform for this functionality.