What are Open Badges?

“Open Badges” is the term for a new global standard for smart digital credentials that can travel with the people who earn them. Open Badges contain structured information, or metadata, that is standardized for easier sharing and can be evaluated and authenticated via embedded links. This leads to trusted recognition for learners and makes their credentials more portable and meaningful.

Badge earners can collect multiple badges from issuers across different learning contexts in their lives to tell a more complete story of their skills, achievements and interests. They can share their badges on social media such as LinkedIn or manage them in skills portfolios in order to achieve their career and lifelong learning goals.

The Open Badges standard was created by Mozilla Foundation in 2011 to refocus on the needs of all learners, and to better recognize lifelong and lifewide learning. The standard has since been adopted by educators and trainers, and by all kinds of organizations and companies around the world.

In January 2017, IMS Global Learning Consortium assumed leadership of the Open Badges specification. The standard continues to evolve to meet the needs of learners and those who recognize them.


What is CanCred Factory?

CanCred Factory is a reliable and flexible platform for issuing Open Badges. Technically, it is identical to Open Badge Factory with the same comprehensive set of tools for creating, issuing and managing Open Badges. But CanCred Factory is a distinctly Canadian service, hosted on servers in Canada and focused on the needs of Canadian badge issuers.

CanCred Factory is owned and managed by Learning Agents, an award-winning Canadian educational technology company.


Are CanCred Factory digital badges Open Badges?

Of course! The badges created and issued by CanCred Factory are fully compliant with the Open Badges version 2 specification, originally developed by Mozilla Foundation and now managed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

The technology behind CanCred Factory in Canada is identical to Open Badge Factory with the same set of tools for creating, issuing and managing Open Badges. Open Badge Factory has been certified Open Badges 2.0 by IMS Global.


Why should we use CanCred Factory when Moodle and other learning platforms have tools to create and issue badges?

Issuing badges with the built-in module of your LMS can be easy to start, but hard to control.

Here are some of the issues that can come up:

  • “Wild West” badging - ad hoc badge creation by educators at the course level can lead to a fragmented non-strategy at your organization or institution. Are your badges “just for fun” or do you want them to have recognition value? You need a system-wide dashboard to control this.

  • “Badge rot” - course level badges can be deleted or corrupted as courses are edited over time. CanCred Factory badges are securely stored on an external cloud platform. When you issue a badge using a CanCred Factory LMS plugin, your badges will be safely stored and centrally managed in CanCred Factory. They’ll remain functional and valid even if your organization decides to replace your current learning platform with a new one.

  • “Swiss army knife syndrome” - would you use the scissors tool on your Swiss army knife or a real pair of scissors to cut a piece of paper? The badging module in your LMS is just one of many tools to maintain. This means less focus, fewer features, a limited road map, and a constant struggle to maintain compliance with the evolving Open Badges standard.

  • “Badging inside the box” - the typical learning platform or LMS has little support for issuing badges outside of its confines. Using CanCred Factory, you can badge inside or outside courses, online or face to face, in formal or informal situations, by using adaptable tools such as claim codes, badge application forms and dedicated assessment platforms.

You can issue CanCred badges from inside your LMS with a plugin. Having a specialized, centrally managed tool like CanCred Factory behind your LMS means you’re not limited to your LMS. You can badge your learners wherever they learn, and manage your badges in one place. This avoids fragmentation of your badge strategy, ensures a long life for your badges and maximizes recognition opportunities for your learners.


What platforms work with the Factory plugins?

Plugins, also known as client applications, have been developed for Moodle, Totara LMS, Blackboard, WordPress, Canvas LMS and D2L Brightspace. (More plugins will be added in the future.) These plugins make it possible to issue badges remotely but manage them centrally in CanCred Factory.

The plugins are open source and can be found on the Integrations page of the Open Badge Factory website.


Can we develop plugins for our own systems?

Yes! We encourage this. Discendum provides an Open RESTful API that developers can use to create their own plugins. Learn more on the Open Badge Factory Integrations page. If you don’t have your own developers, contact us and tell us about your needs.

CanCred Factory also supports Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) services at the Pro level.


Can we use CanCred Factory for free or is there a charge?

You can try CanCred Factory free for 60 days at the Premium level.

After 60 days, we offer 4 service levels: Free, Basic, Premium and Pro. The admin user of your account can change the service level subscription.

At the Free level you can access CanCred Factory’s basic features, but your badge catalogue (library of issuable badges) is limited to two badges. This service level is convenient for developers who want to test their plugins or for organizations that only need to issue one or two badges.


Is it possible to move from one service level to another?

Yes. The admin user of your account can change the service level subscription.


What does Verified by CanCred Factory mean?

This text will appear as a footnote in your badge criteria pages if we can verify that at least the admin user of your account belongs to your organization. Becoming a verified issuer is possible only at the Premium level and above. The admin user must apply for verification and comply with our verification process.


How do I get started with CanCred Factory?

Sign up for a free 60 day trial of CanCred Factory.

After signing up, you’ll have an account at the Premium level. After the trial period you’ll have the option to purchase a paid subscription at the Pro, Premium or Basic level. If you choose none of these, you’ll revert to the Free level, with a maximum of 2 badges in your catalogue. You can also delete your account if you wish, or at any other time. Any badges you have issued are guaranteed for at least 2 years after you terminate your account.


How do I get started with badging?

We recommend an “agile” approach to developing your badging initiative:

  • Explore the technology - do some hands-on exploration and testing inside CanCred Factory to build a basic understanding and generate ideas. (Contact us for our Badging Fundamentals Workbook.)

  • Reflect on your context - think about what you’re hoping to accomplish with Open Badges and who your audiences are. It’s not just about who’s earning the badges. Who will be viewing and evaluating them, and why? Are they employers seeking or developing staff? Associations recognizing professional development? Educational institutions recognizing learning?

  • Design and Pilot - start small, with “low-hanging fruit”: a low-risk opportunity, perhaps where there’s a need for recognition that’s not currently well served. Introduce a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) badge to test your assumptions.

  • Analyze, improve, repeat, grow - learn from your MVP badge and progressively build out your badge systems, expanding into new areas over time.

  • Build partnerships to expand your recognition footprint Build the power of your badges by reaching out to other stakeholders in your various networks. Explore partnership opportunities for mutual recognition, endorsement and shared alignment to common frameworks for skills, qualification levels and standards.