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The Role of Endorsement in Open Badges Ecosystems


In order for badges to gain acceptance, structures must be in place to ensure transparency and confidence in the badging process, as well as trust amongst badge earners, issuers, and consumers. Badges enable new learning ecosystems, necessitating new methodologies for validation of learning providers, assessors, and learning outcomes. Endorsement provides conceptual and technical infrastructure for third-parties to publicly acknowledge the value of badges. The endorsement specification, part of the Open Badges Standard, enables endorsement of any of the badge objects, i.e. Badge Class, Issuer, or Assertion. Endorsement encourages the development of trust networks and connections among stakeholders in communities such as education, government, standards bodies, employers, and industry associations. It helps badge earners understand which badges carry the most value for their goals. Badge issuers benefit from external validation of their badges. Educators, employers, and other consumers who evaluate learners’ achievements can better determine which badges are most appropriate in their contexts. Badge endorsers make their values known by analyzing the quality of specific badges, including how the badge is defined, the competencies it represents, its standards alignments, the process of assessing badge earners, and the qualifications of the badge issuer to structure and evaluate the learning achievement represented by the badge. Endorsement enables validation in open badge ecosystems, furthering badge opportunities.


  • Endorsement
  • Validation
  • Analytics
  • Infrastructure
  • Standards
  • Trust networks

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Although this chapter lists four authors, in fact this work relies heavily on the broad-based community work of scores of people in the Badge Alliance Working Groups for Endorsement, co-chaired by Deborah Everhart and Carla Casilli, the Open Badges Standard, co-chaired by Chris McAvoy and Sunny Lee, and Messaging, co-chaired by Sara Isaac and Megan Cole. Bringing this material into a book with broad circulation is our tribute to the hard work of these teams. In particular, portions of this chapter are drawn from “Badge Endorsement: Getting Started” and the “Open Badges Specification,” both of which are collaboratively produced and available for public use and remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License (

We would also like to acknowledge more generally the Badge Alliance, a network of organizations working to grow and evolve a self-sustaining open badges ecosystem.

And thanks to Sheryl Grant and Kristan E. Shawgo, whose Digital Badges: An Annotated Research Bibliography has served as a foundational guide to scholarly work on badges.

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Correspondence to Deborah Everhart .

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© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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Everhart, D., Derryberry, A., Knight, E., Lee, S. (2016). The Role of Endorsement in Open Badges Ecosystems. In: Ifenthaler, D., Bellin-Mularski, N., Mah, DK. (eds) Foundation of Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-15424-4

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