How to Create Open Badge Criteria – Using Competencies

I am looking for feedback on this project. Please consider commenting OR send me a tweet @verenanz Thank you!

m101 Learning Pathway – Badge Criteria Project

Verena Roberts

 UBC Graduate Researcher and Research Associate of the UBC m101 Course Development project.

September 2013

Are Open Badges the future of Accreditation?

Problem: What is does a competency based assessment framework for the UBC m101 badges look like?

This report is a descriptive overview of how I developed the criteria for the m101 badges.

Most of the current literature suggests that competency based programs are designed backwards. What they mean is, think about what you want the students to be able to do and demonstrate first,  then go backwards thinking about the steps, skills and knowledge needed to achieve the evidence of learning.

To create the m101 badges, I followed the following steps. The m101 blog/course was already created, so my job was to create a system of badges based on current content.

I started by creating “types” of badges. Version 1 – m101 Badges. The feedback I received was that the chart did not have enough detail and stages were unclear. Although I had had some great discussions with David Porter and Lee Graham about alternative assessment, badges and learning design I was not clear in my criteria. I did not really understand what I was trying to assess.

I decided to brainstorm and describe the skills and behaviours the sm101 students are expected  to develop by engaging in learning in the m101 course.

For m101: I went to the m101 blog, then started to create a m101 module about open badges based on the expectations written in the blog. Once I had started the activity, I went back to the blog and split up the tasks by step.

This is my  m101 Badge Criteria Process chart.

After I split up the tasks, I plotted the tasks in order in the chart. I then revisited the blog to define and clarify the blog module creation instructions: Mining, Meshing, Mobilization. I brainstormed words that could describe these three key components in more detail.  I also considered if these words were competencies or names – and what is the difference?  I finished the chart by splitting the tasks into one of the three key components.

Based on the description of the tasks and the process, I could see key action words that described behaviour. I searched for a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy to ensure that I was using words to describe and show evidence of learning at different stages. These action words described the behaviours that were necessary to exhibit in the set badge criteria.

Similarly, skills and abilities also began to emerge. As such, I used Mozilla Webmaker’s current Web Literacy standards to compare, contrast and prioritize the necessary skills and abilities that would need to be exhibited.

At this point in the process, I realized that I needed more information about how to choose competencies and define criteria because my assumptions were based on experience, rather than evidence.

As a result of lack of evidence, I completed a brief analysis on the description of competencies and how they are created. This is the paper on: What is a Competency?

After I completed the paper, and researched a wide variety of examples, I was able to create the first m101 badge criteria proposal.

“Badge criteria creation, or creating a learning pathway is still an experimental and is an area which needs more research.”

(Davidson, 2013)

I found the mobilization badge the most difficult for three reasons. The first reason, is that it is based on relevancy and therefore it is not a static badge.  It has to be a badge which can be added to, remixed, changed or altered in some way. Secondly, it has to have multiple voices and is not based on the criteria set by the instructor. The criteria has to promote the highest levels of learning which is personalized learning. Finally, the criteria must also be able to be integrated into the UBC badge network. Since this does not exist yet, the badge must be concise enough to offer criteria for the m101 course and vague enough to fit into a bigger picture.

As a result,  the m101 mobilization badge is still a work in progress.

Please consider commenting on this post or sending a tweet to @verenanz as I would really appreciate your feedback.

This is a list of resources I used to ensure that I was following a possible process in trying to create the badge criteria:

Provincial/State Competency Based Curriculum:


CEGEP – Jr College Resources from Quebec:

Outlining competencies:

New Hampshire Education


iNACOL – Association Resource

Human Resources – How to Create a Competenc

Digital Resources:

Provincial/State Curriculum:


Outlining competencies:

CEGEP – Jr College Resources from Quebec:

Article about students who have gone through competency based assessment in Quebec:

New Hampshire

Competency Based Assessment:

Rubric on Creating Strong Competencies

Article on New Hampshire competency based program:

Article about Politicians asking for Competency Based Programs in Higher Education :

Blog posts:

Bates, T. (2013) Towards a theory or model of productivity for online learning: outcomes, scale and design.  online learning and distance education resources. Retrieved from

Buell, C. (2013) Using Badges to Quantify Learning Outcomes at UC Davis. edcetera. Retrieved from

Caselli, C. (2012) Badge Pathways: Part 1- the paraquel .Persona The hopeless dream of being—not seeming, but being. Retreived from

Cronin, C. (2013) Assessment in Open Spaces.  catherinecronin: learning-reflecting-sharing. Retrieved from

Davidson, C. (2012) How Do You Encourage Feedback for Group Projects?  Here’s my Darft Badging System. HASTAC

Gerstein, J. (2013) I don’t get Digital Badges.  User Generated Education. Retrieved from

Hickey, D. (2012) Introducing the DML Design Principles Documentation Project HASTAC Retrieved from

Morrison, D. (2012) The Next big disruptor – Competency-based Learning. online learning insights: A blog about Open and Online Education. Retrieved from

O’Byrne, I. (2013) Make with Me- Digital Badges. Digitally Literate. Retrieved from:

O’Connell, J. (2012) Badges for Learning! Heyjude – Learning in an online world.  Retrieved from


Friere, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Additional Resources:

iNACOL – Association Resource

Competency Works  (US)- Website:

Competencies and Industry

Systems of Assessment :

ConnectedTV Topic: Opening New Pathways and Opportunities

30 thoughts on “How to Create Open Badge Criteria – Using Competencies

  1. This is a great post Verena. It highlights well the key moments in searching for the answers when designing badge eco-system.

    After reading the document “What is a Competency?” I somehow felt missing a very important component which is attitudes. Here in Europe we often refer to a “competence” as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes. You may want to have a look at the European framework of key-competences for Lifelong learning (

    I am also thinking that maybe the criteria themselves should be an agreement made with the involvement of learners. Too often in education professionals or institutions decide this. However, if the shift is made towards empowering learners, then, with Open Badges it is possible to agree on criteria that make sense not only for education professionals but also for learning “professionals”. This would be much close to Freire’s notion of education where not only the learning content but as well the assessment is shared between educators and learners.

    Best luck for you work!

  2. THANK YOU!!! I have been searching for the European connection. IN fact in Quebec, I kept hearing – oh we got it (competency framework) from Europe, yet I couldn’t find the evidence.

    I totally agree with your point about student input. My struggle seems to be that i have created “stages” or levels of badges (mostly based on Bloom’s) so the third badge is really the only one with student input. I need to work on this more – agreed!

    Today, someone also suggested that I create rubrics for each of the badges based on the criteria. I’m wondering if that defeats the purpose of the openness of student created content – or am I being too open? That fine line between scaffolding and not enough detail is so hard.

    Thank you so much for your feedback!
    Verena 🙂

  3. Pingback: Badges | Annotary
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