Badges and How I'd Make Them

This is my first set of submissions for an online course in digital badges being hosted by BC Campus's Scope Forum. I'm not really sure how I got enrolled, but I did, and it seems like a good thing to be following up on.
Task 1: Describe the merit badge

1. Identify a merit badge you earned during your lifetime.
What did you have to do to earn it? Did you earn more than one badge? And were they awarded by the same organization?

2. Describe how you displayed the merit badge(s).
If you earned more than one badge, did you display them together? Did you display badges from different organizations together?

1. Man of Letters

This was a badge I received as a Boy Scout (I received a large number of badges as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, mostly based around civic knowledge and wilderness skills - yes, I could survive in the wilderness, and not only that, I would like it). The Man of letters badge was awarded for performing some act of public writing (I forget what the exact conditions were). Specifically, it was awarded for my publication The Eagle Report, a monthly newspaper I wrote and published myself, distributing it around the community.

2. On a Sash

Badges are worn on a red sash worn over one shoulder. They are arranged as you wish (I arranged mine in neat rows, of course). All badges are equal (there is no 'Eagle Scout' designation in Canada). No badges from external organizations were displayed on the sash.

More information:

Here is the list of badges and stars awarded to Cub Scouts (I got all five stars when I was a Cub - there are more stars now - my favourite was the Tawny Star):

Here are the Boy Scout badges, including some of the new higher designations ('Man of Letters' is now 'Communicator').

Just a brief note:

In Scouts, it was very clear ahead of time what the requirements were for different badges, and you could set out earning them. In the examples badges I've seen online (eg. the Mozilla badge program, and this course, even) you are given a sequence of activities and badges just appear at (for me, unknown) intervals.

Task 2: The digital badge

3. Identify the digital and internet technologies best suited to create a digital merit badge. How would you create the digital file (image) of the badge? Is it possible to keep people from copying the badge without having earned the badge?

4. Describe the technologies that could be used to attach (reference or link) the learning to the digital badge. Is there more than one way of "attaching" learning criteria (or outcomes) to a digital badge? Would this criteria differ from a learners evidence toward earning the badge? Could a badge criteria change through time?
(Keeping in mind I don't know the details of how Mozilla set up its program - this is only how I would do it, off he top of my head): The badge itself would be a simple PNG image (or even text script; there's no reason why the badge has to have one and only one visual representation). The image of the badge is contained within a div structure indicating that it is a badge. The code is deliberately very simple: For example:

<div class="badge">

<a href="">

<img src="" /> </a> </div>

  The awarder of the badge (or a third party) keeps a list of the people who received badges. The person is given an image and script referring back to the original list, so when a person clicks on the badge image, they are taken to the awarder or 3rd party certification that the badge is genuine. Here's a sample certificate (could also be in JSON):

<badge resource="">

<badgewinner resource="" /> </badge>

The certificate, in turn, links to badge criteria, again hosted on the awarder or 3rd party web site. This data, available as structured data (XML or JSON) is standardized: name of badge, issuing organization, criteria, category, etc.

For example:


<name>Man of Letters</badge>

<issuer resource="">Scouts Canada</issuer>

<classification resource="">Class / Subclass</classification>

<criteria> ...


The criteria are created though any number of processes, and would be encoded using a JSON  or XML encoder (the number of badges should be sufficiently low that you don't need an automated way of generating massive numbers of badges).

The badge code (hosted at ) lists criteria only - the criteria are listed distinct from any evidence of individual achievement. Each criterion has its own URL, eg:
or  (if it's at a separate URL).
Criteria do not change through time; if the criteria change, a new version  of the badge is created, and badges must be referenced through version number. Hence the record for a badge awarded to a person displays only the criteria in use at the time the badge was awarded.

Evidence publicly displayed (unlike, say, this forum) can be listed in the certificate, by URL. For example, at the document hosted at, the following code can be used:
<badge resource="">

<badgewinner resource="" />

<criteria resource="">

<evidence ref="" /> </criteria>



At least, that's how I'd set it up, first draft...
Do I get a badge now?


  1. Hi Stephen,

    From my own Boy Scout badge experiences, I also remember that earning a badge required a fairly comprehensive assessment - either a demonstration, a portfolio, or some sort of construction. In our community, outside experts were also used to help determine competency. A philatelist lawyer judged me worthy of by stamp collecting merit badge

    I too can survive in the wild. I can start a fire by rubbing two sticks together - so long as one is a match!

    Good post.



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