Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What data is usefull to store in a badge?

This is the most difficult question of all. There are some required data fields for the standards we use, e.g. OpenBadges and Verifiable Credentials, but other than that, you have to decide what data is valuable for the student. Sometimes you don’t know what data will be valuable in the future, but you also don’t want students to have to manage a lot of data. In every context teachers, employers or trainers should decide on what data is valuable. Above all, the students should have the power to choose: the students should be in control on what learning experiences they want stored.

How do you backup data without central storage?

When we hand out badges, currently they will be stored on the device of the student. Students are responsible for managing their own data, and also the backups of that data. An easy way to have a backup is to keep the badges in the email that was received from the issuer. Alternatively the badges can also be stored on any other medium for example storing them on their pc, or using Dropbox, Onedrive or other cloud storage services.

It is important to note that with the planed usage of Decentralized Identitfiers (DID), Verifiable Credentials (VC), Self Sovereign Identity (SSI), and Decentralized Storage, the location where the information is stored will no longer be relevant, so an user friendly and safe backup system can by created.

Does a badge show you have experienced something or your level of experience?

This depends on the information the issuer has put into the badge. Most badges issued to date, state someone has a competency or credential: it shows someone is experienced. But a level of experience is also possible. Badges can be awarded for a single certificate, but can also be related to other badges in many ways. It is possible to create things as ranks, pathways, collections. It is also possible to award a badge for acquiring a series of other badges. The usage of badges is becoming more standardized as a result of the growing community that issues open-badges. For any subject domain you will be able to find badges created by others that can possibly be re-used or adjusted to your specific organization. Additionally a discussion between issuers, users and the organizations that will be receiving the badges is important in deciding what information needed and valuable in this context.

Why would you want to store educational data forever?

Educational data isn’t valuable forever. When you have learned about quantum mechanics, your basic mathematical knowledge is less valuable to you. However, it is not clear up front what specific information will stay valuable, or even become valuable again in the future. What is valuable, stays valuable or will become valuable again isn’t clear. That is why you would like to store the information you have about yourself. To have access to it when you need it, and so that you are not dependent on third parties to be able to access your data again. In the end, it’s the holder, the student, who decides what they want to keep and what they want to delete.

Can a student create a badge on his own?

Although in theory it would be easy to give students the ability to issue badges (by giving them an account on the issuer web-application) there is the question; what is the meaning of a badge that has been issued by a student? Therefore even if a student where to create his own badges, for the badge to have actual value, it will always be necessary that a badge is signed by a trusted party. This trusted party can be the school, a specific teacher, or an organization, the value of the badge will be dependent on the ‘status’ of the trusted party that has signed the badge. They can. But such a badge would always need to be approved and signed by a trusted party, the educational institute, employer, etc. Which is why the badge always has to be issued by a school, teacher or organisation. A badge doesn’t have any value if it isn’t signed by a trusted party.

Don’t you have to standardize the value or content of badges?

Yes and no. No, because some things can be standardized, such as a First Aid Certificate or a Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages Certificate, but not everything. Let’s use ‘Cooperation’ as an example. Everyone has a different opinion about what good cooperation means. And it differs from context to context. So no, you can’t standardize the value or content of all badges.

But on the other hand, badges provide a way to standardize what is possible, because you can use the tool “Allignment”. An issuer can add a link to a common standard (such as the CEFR level) so other people now what the badge means.

Can you revoke a badge/correct errors?

In the prototype a badge can not be retracted, the mechanism to do this is however part of the open-badges specification. Since our solution depends on registering badges on blockchain, the next question might be, how do you remove it from an immutable ledger then? The simple answer to that is that there will be a new registration, mentioning that the old badge is not valid anymore. In the context of Self Sovereign Identities on blockchain, this is called a Revocation, on blockchain a revocation is stored that will be found before the actual badge is verified. In a future version of our software, this will definitely be part of the workflow. Adding to this, two factor authentication will be used in the issuance application to prevent false releases of badges.

What happens when I (student) change my email-address?

At this moment badges are linked to an email address. This isn’t a problem if you have your badges downloaded in the application on your phone our when you backup them in a cloud service. In the future we want to link the badge to a self-sovereign identity (SSI). Students can change their email address or lose their phones without losing access to their badges.

Is the backpack application available for both Android and iOS?

The prototype is built for both Android and iOS. The application is built in an environment that makes it easy to create both an Android and an Apple version. At this moment we only generated and published an Android version for testing, but when we launch the full product, yes, both for Android as well as iOS!

What about the responsibility of a minor and the parent/guardian?

From the start of our design process we have thought about the parent/guardian when it comes to minors. In the backpack application there is a seperate login for students and parents, both can have different options in the app available. For example a parent/guardian might be able to delete badges, while a minor might only be allowed to view them. In phase two we keep thinking about the roles of parents/guardians and students when designing our solution. We aim to be adaptable in this regard, do different configurations can be possible.

Which blockchain is used?

In our prototype we used the Factom blockchain, because it is well suited for the registration and verification. Do note that because of the W3C standards, the technology will be blockchain independent and interoperable with other blockchain systems.