Open Badges

Open Badges

I’ve had my eye on Open Badges for a while, but I took MozFest as the opportunity to uncover some practical uses for libraries in the community. Luckily, I chose the perfect example from a huge list of Open Badges workshops; completely by chance I selected to hear about a collaboration between a community foundation and the public library. Awesome!



What is an Open Badge? In simple terms an Open Badge is a digital badge that allows you to record and others to recognise your achievements and skills. Open Badges have been around since about 2010, which means millions have already been awarded around the world. But can we use them in our libraries and communities?

Here’s an example of what one city has done – Chicago City of Learning started in 2013 following a Summer initiative where more than 100 organisations worked together to create greater visibility in what they were doing independently. Young people earned digital badges recording and recognising their achievements in the community.

The legacy is a significant and growing network of opportunities for young people to learn online and through events and activities – gaining a portfolio of digital badges along the way.

(PRO)jectUS is an initiative between the Commonwealth Foundation and YouMedia at Chicago Public Library to create a skills based pathway through learning to real life experiences.


Three creative suites are available for 13 to 23 year olds:

  • Sound – music, singing, rapping and poetry
  • Media – photography and blogging
  • Fashion – design

Badges are awarded to recognise milestone or learning a new skill. Each participant builds a portfolio of badges; five skill badges can unlock a master badge, which includes a real world opportunity. These experiences act as incredible incentives and also give great confidence to the participants. Examples include design being produced and sold in a local shop.

The programme is very conscious of creating industry standard skills, accreditation is core and participants work closely with mentors from the business sector.

The badges are created using Badge Lab and are awarded via Chicago City Learning.

This was powerful stuff, and I don’t think I can do it justice here. I really do encourage you to find out more.

Find out more: Chicago City of Learning: Chicago Badges;  A Pro-jectUS toolkit will be available in January 2017.


More about my MozFest adventures.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the adventure that was MozFest 2016. Big thanks to SCL for the bursary that enabled me to attend. 

Open Data

Open Data

Whilst at MozFest the SCL libraries gang used the #MozLib hashtag on Twitter, which resulted in people contacting us to find out more. Stephanie Wright, Program Lead from Mozilla Science Lab (and former librarian) was one of those people, so we arranged to meet up at breakfast on the second day. The meeting was brief; Steph arrived with an arm laden with brain diagrams on her way to organise the Open Science space! She mentioned that she was running on Open Data workshop a bit later and we agreed to pop along.


This workshop turned out to be the perfect introduction to Open Data. It was simple, well presented and to the point.

The message – there are two new Open Data Training Programmes from Mozilla Science Lab, freely and openly available on Github:

  • Primers – for anyone wanting to know more about Open Data.
  • Instructor Guides – for anyone wishing to share the benefits of Open Data through customisable workshops.

It’s a work in progress, so in true Open Leadership style there is time to contribute.


More about my MozFest adventures.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the adventure that was MozFest 2016. Big thanks to SCL for the bursary that enabled me to attend. 

Open Leadership

Open Leadership

This MozFest workshop appealed to me as I’m a big fan of the collaborative nature of a ‘Camp‘, but also because I was keen to learn more about the benefits of Open Leadership.



The workshop was pretty handy, because I got to see Open Leadership in practice. Employees from MIT Media Lab and Mozilla worked with participants in small groups. They shared their plans and asked contributors to use their experiences, knowledge and ideas to build on, test and challenge the plan. I could see how these discussions will allow MIT to iterate towards the final product.

What is Open Leadership? Collaboration (with everyone) and sharing (widely and freely and online) are core principles of Open Leadership.

Mozilla have defined the principles and benefits of Open Leadership as:

  • Rapid prototyping in the wild = improved projects
  • Public storytelling, documentation and reflection = greater efficiency
  • Community contribution = increased discoverability
  • Making the content of work accessible = a stronger commons

Whilst Open Leadership has its roots in open source developments (Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia etc.), it strikes me that there is value in utilising the principles and therefore benefits in both offline and online projects and developments.

It would be easy for us to think we already work in an open way. Libraries are pretty good at sharing, but this is often after the fact and upon request. I believe there is something to gain by a greater understanding of Open Leadership and Open Projects.

Could we improve our impact on the community by actively demonstrating the intention to share widely and invite others (e.g. library colleagues and the community) to collaborate and build on our products and innovations from the outset?

There’s more for me to figure out here, but let me know if you’d like to explore Open Leadership and its use in libraries with me.

Find out more: Mozilla have created a training series (using GitHub) Open Leadership : Best Practices Working Open. Take a look!


More about my MozFest adventures.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the adventure that was MozFest 2016. Big thanks to SCL for the bursary that enabled me to attend.