Glossary of terms


An Open Badge can optionally align to educational or other standards, in which case the badge metadata will include the name, a URL and a description representing the standard. The alignment information may be relevant to people viewing an earner's awarded badges or to a potential earner deciding whether to apply for the badge.


An assertion is a representation of an awarded badge, used to share information about a badge belonging to an individual earner. Assertions are packaged for transmission as JSON objects with a set of mandatory and optional properties. An assertion is a JSON-structured representation of the data for a specific badge that has been awarded. An assertion represents a single badge awarded to a single earner — it includes information about:

  • Who earned the badge
  • What the badge represents
  • Who issued the badge

The assertion for a badge includes various data items required by the Open Badges specification. Required data items in an assertion include:

  • A unique ID
  • The recipient
  • The badge URL
  • Verification data
  • The issue date

Assertions can optionally also include:

  • The badge image (with assertion data baked into it)
  • An evidence URL
  • An expiration date

An assertion can be stored in a hosted file or a JSON Web signature.

See the current assertion specification for full details.


Assessment in a badging system can involve various optional stages. For example, a badge issuer can present badges that are available for earning, capturing earner applications via the issuer website. The earners can submit evidence in support of their applications, which the issuer will then review, comparing the evidence to the badge criteria (which is defined when the badge is created). If an application for a badge is successful, the issuer may then award it to the earner, creating an assertion and typically contacting the earner. This is only an example of what an assessment process might look like in a badging system, but the issuer is free to choose a method that suits their community of earners.


A non-technical term for issuing digital credentials/badges to recipients. It can also be used as a noun, i.e. share your digital award. Alternatives include: present, confer, grant.


A backpack, sometimes referred to as a wallet, stores badge award data on behalf of recipients, making it possible for those recipients to organize and manage the badges they have earned. Backpacks may allow sharing to social media sites as a means of transmitting information about the achievements that a learner has gained.

Example: The Canvas Badges Backpack.

Backpack Connect

Badge Connect API, released as Open Badges 2.1, brings the concept of a federated backpack to the Open Badges ecosystem. The Badge Connect API addition to Open Badges allows badge recipients to easily move their assertions between platforms to streamline the experience of earning and using Open Badges.


The term “badge” is typically used as shorthand to mean “digital badge,” “micro-credential" or “digital certification/credential." However, the term “badge” is sometimes used deliberately in reference to a “lower stakes” digital award that may be used to motivate recipients rather than recognize them in a more formal way. Badges can represent competencies and involvements recognized in online or offline life. Each badge is associated with an image and some metadata. The metadata provides information about what the badge represents and the evidence used to support it.

Earners can display their badges online and can share badge information through social networks. Issuers define badges and award them to earners.


A BadgeClass is a definition of an earnable badge, which may potentially be awarded to one or more earners. Badge issuers define each badge class using a JSON file  in which the fields describe what the badge represents. A BadgeClass includes a link to the issuer organization JSON for the badge. Each time a badge is awarded to an earner, the badge issuer creates a badge assertion that includes a link to the BadgeClass. There are three core data classes associated with the Open Badge specification: assertions, BadgeClasses and profiles. A set of one expression from each of these categories may be constructed into a valid Open Badge.

 Each data class is a collection of properties and values, and each defines which are mandatory and optional as well as the restrictions on the values those properties may take. They are published as JSON-LD for interoperability. If properties are included in JSON that cannot be mapped to JSON-LD terms defined in the object’s @context, they are not considered part of the badge object’s meaning.

Canvas Badges/Credentials

We believe verifiable achievements and skills  badges  can help create a more equitable world. Used by thousands of organizations across the globe to issue digital badges and stackable micro-credentials, Canvas Badges/Credentials' secure platform integrates credentials from other platforms and learning management systems so organizations can build meaningful and scalable credentialing programs that improve education and workforce outcomes, and learners can see and have agency over their path from achievement to opportunity.

Bake, Baking, Baked badge

Badge baking is the process of embedding assertion data into a badge image. The Canvas Badges Backpack includes a tool for baking badges.

Claim code (QR Code)

A claim code is created by a Canvas Credentials issuer and given to an earner when they earn a badge. The earner can take the code and claim the badge associated with that code.

Claim codes can be unique to the earner or multi-use, in which case many different earners can use a code to claim the same badge.

Collect, Collection

Earners can collect awarded badges and display them in backpacks. In the Canvas Badges Backpack, earners can group badges into collections, deciding whether each collection is publicly sharable. 


Many digital badges and micro-credentials recognize discrete, often research-backed competencies. One way of thinking about competency is by considering the “what” of the digital badge or “What is the learner demonstrating?” The competency is usually stored in the “description” property of the JSON schema.


Competency-based digital badges or credentials are generally considered “higher stakes” credentials in that the award is contingent on the demonstration of stated competencies. Many competencies are supported by industry research.


The consumer is someone viewing a badge awarded to an earner. Examples could include colleagues, peers and potential employers.


A definition of the requirements for earning a badge. In a BadgeClass, the criterion is included as a URL.


Badges are accompanied by descriptions when they are listed, shared and displayed. Each badge can include a short tagline, a description for earners and one for consumers.

Digital credential

This term is often used interchangeably with “digital badge” and “micro-credential. However, the term “credential” is often used to imply alignment with a particular, industry-aligned credentialing framework, learning outcome or certifying organization.

Example: The Digital Promise micro-credential framework.

Digital credential framework

Many digital credentials are supported by discrete frameworks, which have been aligned to the Open Badges specification. Many of these digital credential frameworks are based on industry standards or research-backed practices. Generally, these frameworks are developed by content/domain experts who have developed the content or coursework culminating in digital credential awards. For example, the Digital Promise micro-credential framework consists of a competency, key method, method components, research and resources, and evidence sections (submission guidelines and evaluation criteria).


A badge displayer accesses badges that are publicly available and displays them in an online context. The process involves verification.


An individual who has met the necessary requirements to earn a badge, micro-credential or other digital badge. Badges are awarded by issuing organizations or individuals, also referred to as issuers.


Digital badge applications sometimes require the pursuant to collect and submit evidence before their competence can be assessed and the digital badge/credential awarded. Evidence refers to submitted proof that an earner meets the criteria for a badge they're applying for. It can be a link to text, images and other media.

 In many cases, the evidence is assessed by a content expert affiliated with the issuing organization. The award pursuant may receive their award after the assessment, or they may receive tailored feedback from the issuing organization. For more on assessment, see assessment.


A badge assertion includes information about the identity of the earner. This information typically comprises the earner's email address. Badge displayers can check earner email addresses against the assertion email to verify that a badge was awarded to the person claiming it.

Issue (See also: Award)

Connect a badge to a person  technically this is the act of awarding the badge to the earner. This may happen when an earner makes a successful badge application. Badges can also be issued by submitting claim codes, or directly by the issuer to the earner's email address.


Person or organization who creates/offers badges and issues them to earners. Issuers can be individuals or organizations.


JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange format. It’s easy for humans to read and write, and it’s easy for machines to parse and generate.

Key method

Some digital credentials include a key method section of their framework and are the means by which (or methodology) an award pursuant demonstrates their competence. Generally, the key method can be referred to as the “how” of a micro-credential or digital badge. In other words, “How will the award pursuant demonstrate the competency in question?”


Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In many cases, when the word metadata is used within the context of digital badging/credentialing, it's in reference to the data that combines with the badge image (the BadgeClass) to produce a digital credential: includes name, description and links to other important details like the badge's criteria, evidence and issuer information. The metadata for an awarded badge is defined in a badge assertion.


Micro-credential is one of many interchangeable terms used to describe digital credentials/badges. Often micro-credentials are “higher stakes” in the sense that they usually conform to a specific framework and are recognized by traditional credentialing organizations or certifying bodies.


Micro-credentials and digital credentials/badges are usually provided through the web, therefore they're available to an award pursuant so long as the website/platform is available and they are connected to the internet.

Open Badges displayer

A badge displayer accesses badges that are publicly available and displays them in an online context.

Open Badges specification

The Open Badge specification is a way of organizing badge data resulting in the badge being open and interoperable. Any digital badge/credential that is “Open Badges compliant” (conforms to the specification) can be transferred to any other system that recognizes and implements this specification.


Each micro-credential/digital badge award contains metadata aligning with the recipients' submission data. This data may include links to evidence, the recipients' email, the date the badge was awarded and more.


Micro-credentials and other digital badges/credentials contain structured data, therefore any system designed to recognize this (open source) data structure can store and display micro-credential data. Micro-credentials can also be verified by any online source, as the code associated with performing that task is also open source.


A profile is a collection of information that describes the entity or organization using Open Badges.

 Issuers must be represented as profiles, and recipients, endorsers or other entities may also be represented using this vocabulary. Each profile that represents an issuer may be referenced in many BadgeClasses that it has defined. Anyone can create and host an issuer file to start issuing Open Badges. Issuers may also serve as recipients of Open Badges, often identified within an assertion by specific properties, like their URL or contact email address. An issuer profile is a subclass of the general profile with some additional requirements.

Property (as it relates to BadgeClass)

Properties are fields within the BadgeClass; they define specific types of data as key/value pairs.

For example, the “name” property may refer to the “micro-credential title” within the BadgeClass data set.

Public badge

A public badge is a badge an earner has placed in a collection that they have designated as public. If a displayer has access to the earner's email address, they can retrieve the earner's public badges from their Canvas Badges Backpack.


Many digital credentials/badges require demonstrations of competence, in which case there is usually industry-supported research to substantiate this skill or competency.


To reskill means to learn new skills to do a different job; to train (a worker) in new or improved skills for advancement or for a new career. 


A badge issuer can decide to revoke a badge they issued. Badge displayers are required not to display badges that have been revoked. Badge revocation is different for signed and hosted badges.

 See IMS Global’s website for examples of revocation


A tool used to assess badge criteria in a standardized way  aids consistency in a review. It can also be used to check evidence to see if it meets badge criteria (if the badge requires evidence).

Share, Shareable

Each awarded micro-credential or digital badge/credential can be shared digitally. For example, badge earners can share awards from their backpacks to social media, an email address or many other ways.

 The Canvas Badges/Credentials platform provides digital badge recipients with the ability to share their awards through social networks, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and via email.

Validate, Validator

Issuers and displayers can use the validator to check badge assertions for structural validity. Validation is a procedure that ensures a cluster of badge objects that make up an Open Badge are appropriately published and linked, and that each particular instance of a badge object conforms to requirements for its class.

Validation of all data class instances used in an Open Badge is a part of badge verification.

Example: is the native Open Badges validator for many systems.


Any digital credential/badge in line with the Open Badges specification can be verified natively through an Open Badges validator.

Verify, Verification

Instructions for third parties to verify the assertion  confirmation that a specific badge was awarded by the issuer to a specific person. Badge displayers are responsible for verifying issued badges using badge assertion data. Badge verification can involve a series of steps tailored to whether the badge is hosted or signed  guidance is available in the specification.

 Verification is the process of ensuring the data that makes up an Open Badge is correct for the purpose at hand. It includes a number of data validation checks as well as procedures to ensure the badge is trustworthy. Verification is distinct from compliance certification for applications and services that implement the specification, though verification is typically a component of certification programs.


A wallet, also known as a backpack, stores badge award data on behalf of recipients, making it possible for those recipients to organize and manage the badges they have earned. Wallets may allow sharing to social media sites as a means of transmitting information about the achievements that a learner has gained.