Anand Yagnik newsletter


As Product Development Manager at Shaw Trust, Anand Yagnik develops, evaluates and implements products and service delivery elements. He aims to increase the scale and effectiveness of Shaw Trust – a national charity helping people facing disadvantage get into work, gain skills and take control of their futures.


Tips & Tricks from Shaw Trust is Shaw Trust’s interactive eLearning site offering independent learning opportunities to our jobseekers across a range of personal development, soft skills, vocational training, functional skills and IT courses. We now complement our curriculum with Open Badges – digital representations of achievements which learners can import/export online to impress potential employers or educational providers.

What are Open Badges?

There are two key elements to Open Badges; the badges themselves, which comprise the digital badge image with embedded information (or ‘metadata’) explaining the badge; and the user Backpack, which is used to store, manage and display badges.

How are they used?

Once our learners earn their first badge from an course, their Mozilla Backpack becomes available for them to import all future Open Badges which they earn from any issuer who follows the specification. Learners can arrange these achievements within the Backpack and create and share a public link, for instance, via email, social networks or on a personal website.

The journey so far

We encountered the concept of Open Badges at a Charity Learning Consortium’s Members’ Seminar and conducted background research through the Moodle Docs website, which contains publically accessible guidance. We began the process of implementation a few months ago, with an initial pilot, which received positive reviews from the people we support. The next step will be to market the badges, through our internal newsletter and weekly email bulletins, as well as bulletins to managers to ensure buy-in from their members of staff for maximum coverage.

Benefits for our customers

  • Sense of pride: We are introducing our clients to a new way of marking and sharing achievements, through a permanent, visual record.
  • Ease of use: Users manage their own learning through the easy-to-use Backpack interface; they select privacy settings, group badges and tailor the content towards different audiences.
  • Authentication: The metadata carried within the badge contains permanent authentication from Shaw Trust, confirming the specific criteria which we have set for learners to achieve each award.
  • Lifelong learning: Badges can be imported from a variety of sources and recognise diverse outcomes such as experiences, competencies, community interactions and even offline achievements.

Any disadvantages?

It’s worth noting that users will need to have a fair level of IT skills and know-how in order to navigate and apply badges and to benefit from sharing these online, for instance, via email or social media. Learners also need to have online access, which is provided at our centres.

Top Tips

Produce clear guidance

The success of our pilot was partly down to ensuring we gave out good guidance documentation, which was easy to follow; this helped the process to be more fluid.

Maximise on the flexible criteria

Ensure that you know which criteria you want to use for each badge, whether it be achievement of a test, completion of a course, or both; the criteria governs which courses will produce badges for users and at which stage of their learning. Remember that the criteria will be displayed within the badges themselves.

Add a personal touch

Develop text within the Badge Details and Badge Message options which tailors the badges towards your organisation.

Apply badges selectively

You don’t have to apply badges to every single course; it’s not always necessary when a certificate will do the job. We personally found that Open Badges really come into their own when applied across a whole curriculum of courses.