2014/Blogg om Open Badges

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A mockup of a badge.

(Om Open Badges för gemenskapen, om bakgrunden och tankarna bakom samt den utveckling som nyligen skett av André.)

In our project with, the open source translation community that translate the interfaces for Wikipedia and other open source projects, we have looked at the values and motivation for joining online communities as well as the technical support/development/documentation for the site. However, direct invitations to the project, coupled with enhanced documentation and instruction material, only take it so far. The question is not only how to get volunteers to start, but how to get them to continue and find engagement meaningful over time.

This is why we wanted to examine the potential of implementing open badges in The Wikipedia entry on "Digital Badges" gives som insights to the ongoing conversation surrounding badges: “badges can have a significant impact, and can be used to motivate learning, signify community and signal achievement.” "Commonly, badges are thought of as rewards but have been found to be most effective when they also contribute to goal setting, reputation, status affirmation, instruction and group identification." [1]

A familiar digital badge is the use of barnstars in the Wikipedia community. The significance of barnstars to forming the online community that is Wikipedia is covered by Kriplean et al. (2008) and their study shows how barnstars contribute to keeping a functional community, such as supporting newcomers to become regular editors.[2]

However, we have chosen to look beyond barnstars in the case of for a number of reasons, instead opting for the open badge infrastructure run by Mozilla Foundation. There are a couple of crucial differences between barnstars and digital badges making use of the open badges infrastructure: badges can be awarded by an outside issuer, and badges are portable and can be taken out from the wiki and managed and displayed in other online contexts. Even when these badges are relocated they retain the meta metadata about the issuing organization and the badge qualification criteria, along with links to the each badge holder’s achievements. This portable feature makes possible for the earner to communicate success and identity across online (and offline) contexts. This gives individuals engaged in the translation community the opportunity to bring their reputation and achievements to contexts where it may unlock career opportunities. The possibility to use digital badges as micro credentials is further enhanced by the fact that organizations may be the issuer and as such endorsing the validity of the contribution. We found this especially crucial in at the starting point of building an online community and a chance for supporting organisations to support activity and retention.

We have now started working on solving some of the technical obstacles that are left before badges can be activated on Wikimedia's projects. Last week at the Wikimedia Hackathon in Lyon, France, we decided to get the ball running. Our GLAM Technician, André Costa, worked with support from Tyler Romero on an extension for Open Badges that will make it possible to create, issue, view and verify badges on MediaWiki, in accordance with the OpenBadges specifications. Currently, what is still missing is code review of this extension and building additional functionality to allow badges to be exported to e.g. Mozilla Backpack and automatic issuing of badges according to certain criterias.

Perhaps this extenstion could become another tool for editor retention, within the near future?

  1. Digital Badges, May 29
  2. Kriplean, T., Beschastnikh, I., and McDonald, D.W. (2008) Articulations of WikiWork: Uncovering Valued Work in Wikipedia through Barnstars Proceedings of the 2008 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, ACM, 47-56