I recently attended the 2013 Faculty Summer Institute held at the i-Hotel here in Urbana-Champaign. The buzzword for the year? Well, there were many–wikis, blogs, and apps ranked high–but I would say that 2013 is the year of the badge.
What is a badge, you might ask?
You’d be right to think of the Boy Scouts. Both the concept of a small, graphic representation of a particular earned skill, and the badge’s circular shape, in part originate from the Boy Scout’s famous credentialing practice. Gaming, which rewards players with tokens for completing a level or beating a boss, is another clear influence. In a time when more and more people are interested in representing skills learned outside of the classroom, and educators, employers, and students alike want to make the transition from classroom to workplace as smooth as possible, it’s no wonder badges are quickly becoming a popular technology.
These badges are a bit different from their predecessors: instead of being physical patches, they’re pieces of data tied to an image file, and to get one, you don’t have to save any princesses (thought there’s probably a badge for that). They can be issued for anything, from baking a cake to writing a book. And perhaps the best news yet: thanks to Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), absolutely anyone can make, issue, and display them. Check out the Open Badge Project for more information.
There are two ways to issue a badge: hand-baking and using the Issuer API. I’ve done both, and recently, using the Issuer API has gotten A TON easier because of the fine folks behind badges.illinois.edu. (Check out CCME’s badge issuing site!) At my presentation on Tuesday, May 14th, I spoke a bit about the badges I made and distributed to our student employees using the hand-baking method. I noticed at this presentation, and at the badges workshop I attended on Wednesday, that a lot of people either didn’t know that hand-making badges was an option, or if they did know, the process seemed too confusing to give it a try.
But 1) hand-baking does exist, and 2) it is quite easy. Here’s how I did it.
What you need:
- Text editor
- .png file (you can make one in Prezi by inserting an image into the circle/basic template and then taking a screen shot of it, or you can use an open-access image creator like openbadges.me to create and save your .png files)
- Access to Box or Dropbox
- An account in Mozilla’s backpack
After you have these items, do the following:
1. Upload the .png file to a public folder in either Box or Dropbox
2. Because I am working with University students, I used my staff account in Box to host my .png files. To make a file public, do the following:
- Click on the uploaded file
- Find “Sharing” in the top right of the screen:
- Click “Link”
- This will pull up a little square menu with a variety of options; in the top right of this menu are viewing options. The default is set to “Collaborators Only Access”.
Click on “Collaborators Only Access” and from the drop-down menu, select “Open”
- The file is now public. To get a direct link to the image, click “Direct Link”
3. Open a text editor of your choice (I use Notepad++ in Windows and TextWrangler in Mac) and copy and paste the following key-value pairs–be sure to change the values to reflect your own information:
“evidence”: “url to your evidence”
“image”: “direct link to your .png file”,
“description”: “Has demonstrated ability to make badges.”,
“criteria”: “url to your criteria”,
“origin”: “url of the issuing organization”,
“name”: “CITES CCME”,
“contact”: “firstname.lastname@example.org” } }
5. Upload the .json file to your Box account and make it public, as well
6. Copy the direct link of your .json file and paste it at the end of this URL in a new window or tab: http://backpack.openbadges.org/baker?assertion=https://
7. Click enter; when you do so, the baking service will interpret the .json file and attach it to the .png file
8. You now have a new, baked .png download! You can upload this to your Mozilla backpack (if you’re listed as the recipient), or you can attach it and email it to a student employee to upload into his or her backpack
To upload a badge:
- Log into your backpack
- Select “Upload”
- Locate the .png and upload it to the backpack
- Now when you click on the badge, you will get the data from the .json file:
- To make the badge publicly viewable, select “Collections” from the badge homepage, drag and drop the badges you want into a collection on the left side of the screen, and check “public”
And that’s it! Now the hand-baked badge can be displayed anywhere that displays your other badges.
Want an easy way to display your badges? Sign up for a blog at publish.illinois.edu, and get up and displaying faster with their already-installed plug-in WPBadger!