If design is about predicting the needs of the future then the original Open Badge Specification did a good job. It provided an accessible foundation to drive early adoption of from groups across the world and like all great ideas is simple to communicate.
If you’ve investigated Open Badges the chances are you will have come across Kyle Bowen’s Open Badge Anatomy image. It illustrates the data bundled and communicated in a badge image, a fundamental building block of Open Badge Specification or Standard.
Since 2011 and V1 of the standard there’s been a steady stream of requests from educators, employers and framework designers requesting additional data fields and new processes to make Open Badges more useful.
The badge alliance collected the first wave of these requests and developed them into ‘use cases’ which describe a real-world need or scenario then propose a change to address the issue. There are now lots of ideas for improving the standard, some are small and incremental, others propose major changes to how learners identity is digitally verified or new ways to provide endorsement from multiple organisations and individuals. A full list can be access on the Open Badges Specification Github.
It’s tempting to add new features but too much complexity can create barriers to entry and slow down adoption. Changes have the potential to bring significant benefits to learners and organisations, but they also pose risks. A new group has been set up manage these opportunities and risks called the IMS Global Badges Group.
This group meets for the first time in Orlando this week. We’ll be agreeing the change process and charter and reviewing proposals for v2.0 of the standard . It’s part of a initiative including a community engagement group which is open to any organisation to join.
Making my way to the meeting this week four design principles come to mind:
Simple — Open Badges have always been easy to understand and communicate to non-technical and technical users alike. If we struggle to explain the proposed changes, the chances are we’re heading down the wrong path.
Lean — Open Badges V2 should remain easy for organisations to implement, leave space for innovation and embrace integration over replication, to helping us gain traction through partnership.
Real-world — As a litmus test we should always be able to point to a real-world problem and a group of users who are sufficiently invested to test and provide feedback.
Open — Open is in Open Badges DNA. We have to ensure that all organisations can easily access the standard and that things continue to be designed in a way that allows individuals to freely move their badges across the web.