2 min read

Learning and Mozilla OpenBadges, Rachel Lawson

I’m catching up on my notes from Drupal Camp Yorkshire conference in Leeds.

Rachel Lawson—coder, motor bike licence holder, former child martial arts trainer (“much like being in meetings as it turns out”)—spoke about how we need a better way of showing achievements beyond university degrees: “I don’t even know where those bits of paper are”. She suggests Mozilla Open Badges is one such answer for recognising achievements.

I’ve been fairly aware of the Open Badges project for a while since Northumberland-based Mozillian Doug Belshaw is heavily involved in it. What is does is allow for organisations to issue badges that a user keeps in their Mozilla repository (their backpack). It can all live on the Mozilla site if need be as really all it needs is JSON and a PNG image.

Lawson recently worked on implementing badges for health professionals on the Drupal-powered Cardiff Pain Community Centre site. She admits that getting it set up on a Drupal site is still a bit arduous, “I need a badge for it!”, but it’s not prohibitively difficult, namely creating badges on the site via the Achievements module and adding a fair few patches. Ironically, the trickiest part of the project was the course manager deciding on and creating the actual badge imagery.

Modules - achievements, amobb, hooks to apply achievements, page and blog displays of achievements

Lawson continued that Drupal itself could do with a badge system, shown on people’s Drupal.org profile. At present, Acquia training accreditation lives on that side, and the self-generated profiles on the Drupal pages doesn’t go far beyond attending an event. What about speaking or organising? Or being recognised for working on core?

Personally, I think that it could also be interesting for the useful but somewhat thankless tasks such as working on documentation (it’s been pointed out in other places that non-tech roles often aren’t valued in tech). I’ve seen this be recognised in other places such as Wikipedia (which actually has a lovely badge system of its own).

Her talk is available online. As the slides are a little hard to read, she’s also made her slides available on iCloud (ooh, fancy).