Digital badges in Moodle? Yeah!
Are you looking for a digital alternative to the analogue certificate? Do you want more than the certificate plugin of Moodle offers you? Do you like collecting badges?
If your answer to at least one of these three questions is YES, you should definitely continue reading. But even if it is not, I highly recommend to do the same.
For many people, even outside the Moodle world, the certificate is an intuitively understandable document that can be used to certify participation and (learning) achievements. But what exactly is a badge, how does it differ from a certificate and what are its advantages?
Badges are digital badges that represent an achievement acquired through learning or assessments, usually completed online, and are represented by an image in PNG format, similar to a Boy Scout badge. Open Badges is a free standard introduced by the Mozilla Foundation that allows badges to be acquired from any institution and collected, organised and shared in a common place, the external backpack. This portfolio of acquired skills can be used, for example, to share in one’s profile on a social or career network or as a reference in an online job application.
Well-known institutions like IBM and Adobe issue Open Badges-compatible learning badges. The authenticity of a badge can be verified by metadata encoded in the image and a link to the issuing institution. Open Badges use open source software.
Mozilla’s own collection platform for Open Badges, the original Mozilla Backpack, was discontinued in August 2019 and merged with the now leading and Moodle-recommended Backpack from the provider Badgr.
Badges in Moodle
Badges were introduced in Moodle with Moodle version 2.5 in May 2013. These badges are fully compatible with Mozilla Open Badges and can be exported to your own Badgr Backpack.
There are two types of badges in Moodle: global, i.e. system-related badges, and course-related badges. Students can select in their profile for each badge awarded whether it should be visible to other students on the profile page. In addition, there is a block that shows participants their recently acquired badges.
As a prerequisite to being able to award badges in terms of course or activity completions, activity completion tracking must first be enabled system-wide and additionally in the courses where badge will be issued.
The creation of a badge in Moodle can essentially be divided into two processes.
First, the metadata must be defined. This includes a name, a description text, an expiry date if applicable and an image file representing the badge.
Tip: The image file should have square aspect ratios if possible, otherwise it will automatically be cropped accordingly. JPEG, PNG and GIF are accepted as file formats, whereby only the first image is retained in the case of an animated GIF file. The animation would therefore be lost.
If you have any questions about this or need well-designed badges, please feel free to contact us.
The expiry date defines the validity period of an issued badge. For this purpose, either a fixed date or a defined time period can be selected, which begins with the time of the award. If the validity period of an issued badge has expired, this is indicated by a visual change of the image file. A red stamp with the word “Expired” is placed across the entire width of the image.
On each badge the data of the awarding institution is avilable. These are configured globally in the administration area of Moodle and are the same for every badge awarded within the platform.
In the second part of the badge creation process, the criteria for acquisition must be defined: what the participants have to do, or what has to happen before the badge is to be awarded to a participant.
Once the badge has been awarded to at least one person, no further changes can be made to the settings and criteria.
Various criteria are available for awarding global badges, which must be defined when the badge is created. The criteria maybe combined as desired. In addition, it can be specified whether all selected criteria or only one must be fulfilled for the award of the badge.
- Manual awarding via a specific role: Users with specific system roles, such as “manager” or “trainer”, can award the badge manually to any participant in the system.
- Complete multiple courses: The badge is awarded when one or more pre-defined courses are completed by the participant. The completion criteria of the individual courses can be as different as desired.
- Awarded badges: If the participant has already acquired certain other badges in the system, an additional badge will be awarded.
- Completion of the user profile: Completion of the user profile or only certain profile fields, such as the profile picture, can be used as a criterion for a badge.
- Membership in a global group: If a participant is a member of a global group, a badge can also be awarded for this. In this way, membership of the group can also be visually highlighted in the user profile, for example.
- Competencies (since May 2019): A badge can be awarded for the acquisition of certain competencies.
Course-specific badges work in the same way as global badges, but in addition to the criteria already mentioned:
- Manual awarding via a specific role
- Completing multiple courses
- Awarded badges
there is also the criterion
- Activity Completion: This can be used to define any course activities that can be completed, such as passed quizzes that are required to earn the badge.
Connection to the Badgr Backpack
Users have the option to link their Moodle account to their Badgr Backpack. This feature makes it possible to display badges acquired externally on the Moodle profile page, as well as to export badges acquired in Moodle to the external backpack and manage them in categories there. Before this can be done, however, the linking option must be activated and configured accordingly in the Moodle administration area. A subsequent deactivation of this functionality has no influence on the validity and verifiability of badges already awarded.
Tip: If a badge has been deleted from a Moodle system that a student has already been awarded and imported into his backpack, it will still be available there even if the award criteria is no longer available in the Moodle system.
Feel free to contact us, if you have any questions about this.
Badge vs. certificate
Certificates are usually offline documents that are printed and filed. Of course, they also exist in digital form, for example as a PDF file. But even these digital documents have digitally little added value and are usually destined to “end up” on analogue paper.
The badge, on the other hand, exists purely digitally and can therefore be used more easily in the digital environment as proof of performance. Instead of an analogue signature, it has digital metadata, which is because it is linked to a verification page of the issuing organisation quite forgery-proof. Also, the direct visual indication of an expired badge automatically added to the image is a significant advantage over a certificate. Here, the expiry date is often only visible on external databases.
In the context of Moodle, a great added value compared to the certificate is that one can have one’s externally acquired learning credentials displayed directly in one’s own profile in a verifiable way. In this way, other users may also be encouraged to acquire these badges. This can even be used to implement gamification scenarios.
Since it is becoming increasingly important in times of online learning to present proof of acquired skills in a format that is easy to use, manage and present, the use of badges can therefore be a good and also versatile alternative to certificates.
Would you like further individual advice?
Please do contact us.
Do you have questions or experiences with Moodle Badges?
Please do share them with us in the comments. Thank you so much.