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A New XBlock to Award Badges After an Assessment in the Course

The London-based Proversity consultancy has released a Badgr XBlock, which works in conjunction with the open source Badgr Server application or the hosted version at Badges are based on a passing grade for a specified subsection in a course.

It means that instructors are able to embed the XBlock directly after an assessment in the course. The XBlock reads the grade that the learner gets and, if it’s a pass, the badge is awarded.

This solution differs from the existing default development, which awards badges to learners at the end of a course.

Proversity’s Chief Learning Officer, Philippa Hardman and Lead Software Engineer, José Antonio González Rodríguez, talked about this solution during the 2018 Open edX Conference in Montreal, Canada. Here are their talk and slides.


In the field of badges, the pioneering open source solution is BadgeOne XBlock and Server, developed in 2014-2015 by the George Washington University (GW) and IBL Education with the support of edX.

The badges can be awarded from graded sub-sections in a course in Open edX. The instructor sets the minimum score for the eligibility of the badge, and configures the badge component with the data of the badge service, badge ID, custom messages for the user, at the sub-section (or sub-module) level. There is no limit on the number of badges that can be earned within a course.

In November 2014, GW’s Professor Lorena Barba published a slide deck describing the concept and instructional design for her course, “Practical Numerical Methods with Python.”

She described her proposal of “unbundling the course,” as follows: “Instead of awarding one Certificate of Completion for the whole course, we want to award digital badges for the completion of each individual module.” The course was composed of five modules, each with a graded sub-section and awarded an open badge. The image of the open digital badge awarded for Module 1 of the course was available for re-use under CC-BY, as an example.

Resulting from the work by Prof. Barba and IBL in 2014, edX itself contracted IBL to complete a follow-on project that produced the Badge One server. Combined with the XBlock, this was the first complete solution to award open badges from a graded sub-section in Open edX. Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, enthusiastically supported this badge development.

Since then, the George Washington University (GW) has been consistently using badges in their engineering courses, awarding over 300 badges. The “Practical Numerical Methods with Python” course has been the reference in this field.