Templates make Open Badges even more open

badge-lifecycle-02Mozilla’s BadgeKit introduces the idea of Badge Templates, making Open Badges even a little more open. Templates will help us make related badges more easily. They can also enable you to share your ideas and methods with other people and organizations who make badges.

Badges are better when they’re Open Badges. Badge making in the open is better x10, making it easier, more productive and fun.

In BadgeKit, a badge can evolve through a few different states: template, draft, published, and archived. This post describes templates — where they came from and how you might leverage them for your work.

What is a Template?

A template badge is like any other badge, except that it will never be issued. It has essentially all the same parts, but it is used to make other badges. It works like a cookie cutter or a stencil. We use a template to help us start a new draft badge. Once we start the new draft, we set the template aside and edit the new badge’s details as needed.

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Why use a Template?

A template can help you quickly load certain information into a new draft badge. Your organization might include a statement used in all of your badge descriptions, for example,  about where an earner can get help. A template can include any information you want. Unlike a real badge, it can also exclude any fields — nothing is required. Here are a  few examples of how you might use templates:

  • Screenshot 2014-03-06 12.12.05Content: A template might focus on specific content, such as science or team building.
  • Types: A template might focus on the type of learning or badge. For example, you might have a template for participation badges and another that covers skill badges.
  • Criteria: A template could include some specific criteria that connects several of your badges across related fields.
  • Format: A template might include the format (grammar, tone, structure) used for all of your criteria, even if the specific details vary on each badge.
  • Imagery: A template could also include imagery to connect your badges visually.

Use vs Edit

Screenshot 2014-03-06 12.10.06One aspect of templates can confuse some people when they first encounter them. BadgeKit allows you to Use a template or Edit it. What’s the difference? Like a cookie cutter or stencil, you Use a template to make several cookies, t-shirts, or badges. After a few batches, you might have an idea of how to improve your template. If this is the case, Edit your template and make your adjustments. Next time you Use the template, each new draft will include the changes. Note that old drafts and published badges will remain unchanged.

Open Sharing

Templates and their use will require some testing and iteration. If they prove useful, we will introduce the ability to share templates between organizations. An organization could develop a series of templates and make them available to a range of partners to adapt for their community. Working in the open, it will become even easier for everyone to make smart and effective badges.

Collaboration

While templates allow a new range of collaboration, the idea also emerged from collaboration. We talked with a range of people in the community about existing tools available to plan and issue badges. Several people noted that good badges take time to plan. Badge making, they also noted, was often a collaborative process.

It became apparent that BadgeKit should provide a comfortable place to not only input information, but also develop ideas. A badge, it seems, requires some time to marinate before it becomes a Badge ready for the world. BadgeKit needed draft badges. I explored this idea, the interface for badge makers, and their experience. Through this process, the notion of a draft badge created a new possibility — badge makers might want to share their drafts with a colleague to review. This new range of motion took root and quickly led to the idea of templates, a means to broadly share ideas and techniques in the open.

You can see part of the dialog that led to templates take place on our project page in Github, an important tool for our design and development process. Jess Klein also discusses our process on her blog. Join the conversation and the effort to make more badges, more open.

BadgeKit

Learn more at badgekit.org and badgekit.org/help. Note: This site is a work-in-progress under active development.

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