Digital open badges

Flexible competence identification and recognition are being developed in higher education around Europe. Micro-credentials and digital open badges are related to the development.

Digital open badges are electronic proofs of identified and recognised competence. The purpose of digital open badges is to visualise personal competences to others and thus it is important that the badge is visually interesting and clear. The badge structure and contents describe

  • competence objectives 
  • assessment criteria 
  • competence demonstration instructions 
  • potential electronic proof of competence (appendix) 
  • badge issuer

Badges may be granted automatically as an integrated part of diverse systems, for example in connection with study attainments. The most used method in Finland is to award a badge based on an application which demonstrates competence. Badges support identification and recognition of competences of varying origins. Badges may thus be awarded by companies or organisations in addition to educational institutions.

It should also be considered that all digital badges are not awarded based on competence. A digital badge may also be earned automatically based on participation in an event or education. Introduction of digital badges calls for a technical system.

There are different badge systems but Open Badge Factory (OBF) is the most commonly used in Finland. The system is based on the Open Badges standard which enables flexible integration of digital badges into different study administration systems. There is also an Open Badge Passport application for personal storage of digital badges.

At their best, digital badges may have an impact on students’ or applicants´ motivation and enable supervision and assessment of competence development in a new and flexible way. The focus is on competences and flexible competence development methods. Brauer (2019) published research-based model for the digital badge-driven learning.

Tampere Universities use Open Badge Factory.