Projects Tech Stuff

Open Badges Initiative

The week before last we did a presentation at MIT’s New Media Consortium Summer Conference in Cambridge, MA. In our session we talked about the “Pirate Patch” program that’s being used as a retention tool, and piloted with the incoming freshman class. Here’s my part –the technical part — of the PowerPoint show, for your bedside reading.

The Pirate Patch

It’s built using the specifications of the Open Badges Initiative project that Mozilla is spearheading. The initiative itself is about giving verifiable, meaningful proof of an accomplishment, experience or certification, that lives outside of the highly organized and expensive world of higher ed or training schools.

Upon proof of some kind of achievement, the issuing authority (in this case, us) creates a graphic (a PNG file) and “bakes” into it certain metadata, which can be decoded at the back end and includes links to proof of identity, receipt and requirements for the award.

The system I coded handles that, and a lot more such as validation of users, awarding and editing ability on the back end, ability to grab awards as you go (scanning QR codes, clicking a link on a restricted web page), badge creation, permissions and a bunch of other things I can’t remember.

We have a separate blog running at SHU with more information, and a running commentary of how we’re doing.

Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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