BadgeMaker Open Badges plugin


Client: UFi Charitable Trust




Service Design
User Experience Design


January - September 2016


Marie Cheung
Anne Dhir


BadgeMaker is an open source Moodle plugin developed with Borders College that enables educators to create badges for young people in order to recognize the invisible learning inside and outside the classroom. Open badges allows young people to display a range of skills beyond traditional qualifications.

The project is funded by UFi Charitable Trust and builds upon the 2014 BadgeMaker project, which worked with schools to create a simple platform to build, earn and display open badges. This project aimed to help Scottish colleges adopt Open Badges as a way to motivate learners and lecturers by capturing skills that could be shared with employers.

An Open Badge is a digital image that has metadata ‘baked’ into it. So in the same way that you bake ingredients together to make a cake, so you bake a badge. And again, just as you can’t then remove an ingredient from the baked cake so you can’t change an Open Badge once it’s been ‘baked’. – Doug Belshaw


We helped the admin team, learners and lecturers from Borders College explore Open Badges. Through our initial user research sessions, we mapped out their user journeys and developed personas to better understand how to create a sustainable business case for their organization to adopt Open Badges.

We originally planned to develop a stand alone Open Badges platform. However, we found that 26 colleges in Scotland use Moodle as their Virtual Learning Environment and an existing Open Badges plugin already exists. The main issue of the existing Open Badges plugin was that it did not publicly display evidence submitted by learners. It cannot demonstrate why a learner earned a badge to employers without linking to the proper evidence.

Though we did not have experience developing for Moodle and the original idea would have been easier to do, we made the switch as it would help colleges in the long term. We decided it would be a better route to help colleges embed Open Badges as a more sustainable option. Borders College, although a pioneer in Open Badges, lacked the techical capabilities, support and resources to expand this to their learners.

Developing user flows and blocks

I worked with an Instructional Designer from Borders College on user flows, wireframes and test cases for the plugin over their current Virtual Learning Environment. We then identified the technical specifications and blocks that needed to be developed and used across Border College's Moodle site. I then worked with developers through weekly sprints to build the various Badge blocks and a Badge Library and to fix the issue of display evidence.

Presenting Open Badges during the Pilot Test

I carried out a Pilot testing session with learners, a lecturer and admin at Borders College to test the end-to-end process on our test site. We uncovered bugs and better understood the needs of both the learners and lecturer. A month later, I ran a usability testing session with learners and staff to test the full Moodle plugin on Borders College's live site.


A working free and open source Moodle plugin was developed for Colleges to ease adoption of Open Badges. I contacted 5 additional colleges in Scotland and they expressed further interest in exploring and developing Open Badges within their organisation. My biggest learning was that innovation also happens when improving something that already exists to fit an organisation’s needs.

Borders College have now created additional 3 Open Badges using our plugin. They realised the importance of a Badge Champion and have begun to work with their Student Association to create and issue Open Badges to capture skills and learning outside of the classroom. I also organised a BadgeMaker launch, to learn more about Open Badges and our Moodle plugin. I led an interactive workshop to help people better understand the badge process.

I am delivering an Open Badges session at Mozilla Festival in London at the end of October 2016. I was invited to present our work on BadgeMaker at Scottish Social Service Council's Open Badges event with Scottish Qualifications Authority and Scottish Government in January 2016.

Project Deliverables

BadgeMaker wireframes sketches

Wireframe sketches

BadgeMaker mockup

Mockup design

Working with Borders College

Working with Borders College

BadgeMaker plugin on Borders College's Moodle

BadgeMaker plugin on Borders College's Moodle

© Marie Cheung