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Open Badges: Going for Gold

2016 is full of notable sporting events: the Tour de France, 2nd Invictus Games, the Euros, Wimbledon, and the Olympic Games. This has made me think about the parallels between recognition at these events and how we can use Open Badges in practice.

The Invictus Games

All the athletes who competed in this year’s games were awarded a special medal for participation. Open Badges are frequently used for this purpose – attending a conference, participating in a staff development day, joining a webinar. They are a great way to recognise participation in an event for CPD.

The Euros

The winning team get winner’s medals and there is a parallel with awarding Open Badges as a mark of excellence or outstanding achievement in a specific area of practice. Rewarding a team for outstanding work can be a great way to mark their contribution and provide further motivation.


The officials on the court need to have a visible device to show they are authorised to be there, usually a wrist band. Open Badges can help to show that someone has the required skills or authority. It is possible to build in an expiry date into the make-up of a digital badge thus creating a license to practice for a specified period of time. It’s easier to check the expiry, and that an awarding authority is legitimate digitally, than with a paper certificate or wristband. It is also possible to add an extra layer of security to make it extremely difficult to replicate. At eCom we currently use 128 bit encryption. There is also a movement now looking at the use of Blockchain to support this level of trustworthiness.

The Tour De France 

In the Tour De France, jerseys are awarded that recognise the different qualities and prowess shown by cyclists in different stages of the race. The overall winner of the tour wears the Yellow Jersey, however they may not be the leader in the sprints, or King of the Mountains. The different jerseys make it easy to see which athlete excels in which aspect of the race. Open Badges could be used in this way to mark out individuals with different areas of expertise. This can help organisations to identify the ‘go to expert’ and make excellence more visible.

The Olympics

Medals are awarded to display excellence in a very specific field. However, with awards at three levels (gold, silver, bronze) it is not just the best who are recognised. Each builds on the shoulders of the other. Open Badges, can recognise levels of achievement, building up to a gold standard. This is good as a motivational tool, providing an entry level and then progression towards mastery.

Alongside these awards for prowess and participation are less known ones. In the Tour De France there is an award for the rider who shows ‘fighting spirit’. This is not determined by winning a stage or a sprint, but through a group of judges looking for qualities. Wimbledon won awards for technology this year too, for its digital platform and use of social media. In these instances, it is difficult to pin down exactly what constitutes fighting spirit, digital platform or social media excellence. However, judges recognise these qualities when they see them. Open Badges can be used in a similar way, to recognise the more intangible skills and qualities that people can show. Those things we know exist but are difficult to define, but we know when we see them – great customer service, creativity, inclusive practice… Quite often these are vital workforce skills that help keep businesses running smoothly. Publically recognising them can help embed these into the organisational culture.

Open Badges have a wide potential for recognising skills, achievement, excellence, behaviours, a time framed license or competence, and levels to provide motivation for improvement.

eCom Scotland’s eNetBadges™ enables organisations to issue secure badges for business use. With anyone having the ability to issue Open Badges, validity is a key issue. eNetBadges allows you to authenticate your badges in the metadata. By including information about criteria, evaluation, and evidence of work, others can verify and evaluate the achievement. The use of encryption means we include enhanced security, meaning that any badge issued through our platform will always have a verifiable provenance.

If you would like to explore how Open Badges could work for your organisation then please get in touch with one of our Learning Technology Consultants on t:01383 630032 or


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