Website and API Released


IBL Studios launched this month the website in order to host everything related to this new badging solution. In addition, it released an API that will allow anyone to integrate the BadgeOne server into her own applications.

BadgeOne is the first free, fully open-source, OBI-compliant, multi-language open-badges server. Available in Github since mid-June for any site administrator to download and install, this badge server is operable with Open edX and LMS platforms. It is written in PHP and requires only an Apache server and other standard web technologies.

The BadgeOne server was developed by IBL Studios, with GW Professor Lorena A. Barba in an advisory role, and with financial and technical support from edX. The project has its origins in the first integration of open badges in the Open edX platform, in November 2014.

Along with the badge server, IBL and edX have developed an XBlock that allows to securely connect an Open edX platform to the BadgeOne server.

The First XBlock that Allows Badges on Open edX is Released

IBL Studios Education released on this week the first Xblock that allows digital badges to be awarded from an online course using Open edX.

The IBL OpenBadges XBlock connects any Open edX code-based platform to any badge-issuing server, including the open source BadgeOne server.

This software has been developed by IBL Studios with conceptual and feature design by Lorena A. Barba and Michael Amigot as well as financial and technical support from edX.

It was used in Prof. Barba’s open online course “Practical Numerical Methods with Python”, which started on December 2014. General consultancy on the principles of open digital badges in education was provided by Prof. Daniel T. Hickey and his team at Indiana University during the fall of 2014.

These are the features:

  1. The badges can be awarded from a “Graded Sub-section” in a course in Open edX. The instructor sets the minimum score for the eligibility of the badge, and configures the badge component with the data of the badge service, badge ID, custom messages for the user, etc.
  2. Once it’s added to a Graded Sub-section, the open-badges XBlock will automatically check the user’s score in that sub-section (when the user enters the sub-section).
  3. While the user does not have a high-enough score for eligibility, the XBlock will display a custom message indicating that this is the case.
  4. Once the user has a high-enough score, the XBlock will reveal the badge image and the input fields to claim the badge.
  5. The user fills the claim form, entering URL fields providing evidence of her learning, etc.
  6. Once awarded, the badge becomes privately available in the user’s account on the badge service. The user then “claims” the badge to make it public (this is the normal operation of open-badge services.)

IBL OpenBadges XBlock is available for free download and installation at GitHub.


Badgr – Another Great Badge Server Comes to the EdX Universe


badgr2Badgr, written in Python by the new Badge Alliance Director Nate Otto, has been released. This is another great badging initiative that comes to the edX universe, in addition to BadgeOne.

Badgr Server provides an API for issuing Open Badges and handles badge management for issuers, earners and consumers.

According to its GitHub page, “it will soon provide integrated badge management and sharing for badge earners and tools for inspection, exploration and discovery of Open Badges and a world of learning opportunities.”

The portal plans to use this server, along with the badge XBlock developed by IBL Studios. EdX’s portal blog and Concentric Sky –the company that Nate Otto works for– posted this week describing their collaboration. – An Open-Source Badge Server, Operable With Open edX

badgeoneBadgeOne is the first free, fully open-source, OBI-compliant, multi-language open-badges server. Available in Github since mid-June for any site administrator to download and install, this badge server is operable with Open edX and LMS platforms. It is written in PHP and requires only an Apache server and standard web technologies.

The BadgeOne server was developed by IBL Studios, with GW Professor Lorena A. Barba in an advisory role, and with financial and technical support from edX.

Along with the badge server, IBL and edX have developed an XBlock that allows connecting securely an Open edX platform with the badge server. Other badge providers will be supported in the future. The XBlock—to be released soon—was thoroughly revised and extended from a prototype written for Prof. Barba’s Fall 2014 MOOC.

This badging project has its origins in the first integration of open badges in the Open edX platform, in November 2014.

[Update: Background information to use the BadgetOne’ API ]

IBL Studios Issues an Open Source Badging Platform

Guest Post: James Willis | 06.19.2015

This post originally ran on the Re-Mediating Assessment Blog on June 19, 2015


IBL Studios Issues an Open Source Badging Platform

By James Willis

We worked with Michael Amigot at IBL Studios in a previous project to launch the first instance of open badges in Open edX in Lorena Barba’s Python MOOC at George Washington University. The code to issues badges is now available at GitHub as an open source tool for those interested in issuing their own Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI)-compliant badges. IBL designed this to be “[a] platform to award your own institution’s badges. The badges you create and earn with this server are compatible with the specifications of the OpenBadges project.”

The open badges community continues to grow through the development and implementation of open source software. What distinguishes IBL’s platform is that it is a fully-functioning, badge-issuing open source code that will work with multiple providers, including learning management systems.

It is fully OBI-compliant, multi-language, and tested across platforms. IBL premiered this server in recent MOOC work for the Spanish government. Cross-links are provided for Mozilla Open Badges Backpack and the Open Badges Technical Specification.

Mozilla Open Badges Backpack

Launched in mid-June, this badge server is fully open source so that any site administrator may implement the coding for free. The server is operable with Open edX or other providers so long as the following requirements are met:

  • PHP > 5.3.9 (php5-mysql, php5-json, php-gettext) (Recommended > php 5.4.0)
  • MySQL 5.x (PDO connections are used with php5)
  • Apache2.4 server (you could use Nginx; remember to configure the options properly)
  • mod_rewrite (to protect certain directories with .htaccess files)
  • Certain directories require write permissions (defined in installation process)

At the Open Badges in Higher Education project, we are happy to see these resources going forward for Open edX.  We are continuing to work with IBL and the Open edX community to help instructors and organizations issue open badges that are compliant with the Open Badge Infrastructure standards.

 James Willis, III is a research associate in the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University. He has a PhD in comparative religion from King’s College London. His research interests include academic technology and learning assessment, human-machine ethics, and the digital humanities.

[ Update: – An Open-Source Badge Server, Operable With Open edX ]

Open Badges Will Become More Relevant With the New "IMS Digital Credentialing" Initiative

IMS Global, the leading education technology standard nonprofit organization, announced the IMS Digital Credentialing initiative to establish digital badges as common currency for K-20 schools and corporate education.

IMS Digital Credentialing will investigate and expand the reach of the Open Badge Standard, while exploring new models.

“I’m very pleased that IMS Global will be building from and contributing to the work we have supported on Open Badges,” said Dr. Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

IMS Global is seeking to form a group of IMS Digital Credentialing charter members. Interested institutions, corporations and suppliers are invited to attend the upcoming IMS Learning Impact Leadership Institute in Atlanta, GA May 4-7 or contact the team at

Online Courses Challenge College Admissions

college ed
How do you determine whether prospective students are prepared for the best colleges?

Today grading standards vary among teachers and high schools. Personal essays could have been written by someone else or engineered because of the work of essay-writing coaches. SAT and ACT scores can be maximized through prep courses and different techniques that have little to do with achievement. Letters of recommendations and extracurricular activities are also imprecise measurement tools. Add to this the monetary contributions from wealthy families and Ivy League slots in high schools.

This imperfect information system is reflected by the fact that more than one in four students who start college drop out or transfer within three years.

MOOCs offered by dozens of elite colleges give high school students a chance to prove that they are ready for a university. In turn, the institution gets an accurate measure of whether a student is prepared for academics. edX and Coursera offer real courses –sometimes eves the same classes that are taught to freshmen– from the world’s greatest universities.

  • “MOOC success is much more likely to predict success in college classes than SAT scores, because MOOC success is, in fact, success in college classes”, explains Kevin Carey, director of policy program at New America.
  • “Online college courses also can be a better measure of student aptitude than Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, which are considered in admissions by many colleges.”
  • “The availability of real, free college courses means universities won’t have to rely on such flawed proxies in the future. Instead they’ll be able to pick and choose from among students who have already demonstrated that they can excel at demanding college work.” 

Colleges are now figuring out how to incorporate MOOCs into admissions and make them recruiting tools. On the other side, students are listing MOOCs among extracurricular activities.

“It will become much harder for privileged parents to help their less-talented children game the system. Unless, of course, elite schools really wanted the children of the rich and powerful all along.”

[The Washington Post: Goodbye, SAT: How online courses will change college admissions]

"Digital Credentials Will Allow Free Online Courses to Revolutionize Education"


“Free online courses won’t revolutionize education until there is a parallel system of free or low-fee credentials, not controlled by traditional colleges, that leads to jobs,” says Kevin Carey, author of the essay “The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere”.

The new digital credentials, or badges, can solve this problem. Badges indicate specific skills and knowledge, backed by links to electronic evidence of how and why the credentials were earned. In addition, badges are not limited to what people learned in college, but everywhere else. In the meantime, traditional college degrees are inadequate tools for communicating information and presenting that data to employers.

Read the complete article here.

Update: The Mozilla Foundation’s Open Badges project has been leading the badges effort, although the project is dying and about to be abandoned, according to experts consulted by IBL News.

[Disclosure: IBL Studios presented in November 2014 the first badge system for edX and Open edX]


How Education Will Look Like in 2020 – Ten Trends

How will  the next five-to-ten years look like in online learning?

Anant Agarwal, president of, made these predictions in the Financial Times –that we have classified and summarized into ten trends:

1. The blended model will become the new norm. By 2020, 50 percent of college courses will combine in-person and online learning; a shift driven by student demand for the convenience and effectiveness of online learning. MIT’s recent report on the future of MIT education was unequivocal in its support of the blended model.

Chip Paucek, chief executive of 2U, says that “universities that do not provide online degrees will be hard-pressed to remain competitive as their peers scale dramatically through the ability to serve students regardless of location. “The lack of an online offering will be unacceptable. “At every school, there will no longer be online or on-campus students. Just students,” Paucek states.

2. MOOCs will help close the skills-gap for employers. Employees will be encouraged to take online courses with self-assessment preparedness tests pertaining to specific skill-sets when hired; or even later to keep up with emerging trends and technologies.

3. Students will become continuous learners, cultivating new skill-sets throughout their careers. There will be several models. For example, year one may be online with two years then spent on-campus. Instead of the traditional final year, students will enter the workforce to gain real-world skills and continue to learn through an annual subscription to their university.

4. Many universities will use MOOCs as a new kind of textbook; including videos, game-like simulations and interactive exercises. For classes, professors will augment public MOOC content with private, in-person experiences. In other words, MOOCs will be the “new age” textbooks.

 5. MOOCs will help prepare students for college. Just as many schools mandate required summer reading prior to freshman year, specific MOOCs with self-assessment preparedness tests may be required from accepted students, thereby ensuring they are prepared when they arrive on campus.

 6. There will be tens of thousands of free MOOCs offering everything, from fine arts to engineering. Students worldwide will have access to virtually any course subject in any language. [Today, and Open edx partners offer more than 1,000 free MOOCs.]

 7. MOOCs will get personal. Learning will offer multiple pathways to navigate courses that fit specific learning styles and speeds. MOOCs will continue tailoring the learning experience to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students, universities and employers.

 8. We will see more badges, such as Mozilla’s Open Badges. Employers increasingly accept certificates for MOOC courses. MOOC platforms are headed in this direction. [IBL has developed, along with GW, Indiana University and, the first badge system for Open edX. This course at GW is the first one issuing badges].

 9. MOOC certificates will transfer into course credits.

 10. Growing institutions, especially in developing nations, will aggregate existing MOOC courses into synthesized degree programs. [Anant refers to this phenomenon as “digital dormitories”.]



The First Six Badges of the Open edX Universe


The first Open edX-based badges or micro-credentials are being issued this weekend by George Washington University’s MOOC “Practical Numerical Methods with Python”, run by the innovative Professor Lorena Barba. IBL Studios Education developed an XBlock and created the  layouts of the badges.

These six badges –hosted at– recognize the efforts of GW Online’s students.

This development was introduced at Harvard on November 19th during the Open edX conference. Here is the video.

See the process of a student claiming a badge on the Open edX platform below.