Badgr – Another Great Badge Server Comes to the EdX Universe


badgr2Badgr, written in Python by the new Badge Alliance Director Nate Otto, has been released. This is another great badging initiative that comes to the edX universe, in addition to BadgeOne.

Badgr Server provides an API for issuing Open Badges and handles badge management for issuers, earners and consumers.

According to its GitHub page, “it will soon provide integrated badge management and sharing for badge earners and tools for inspection, exploration and discovery of Open Badges and a world of learning opportunities.”

The portal plans to use this server, along with the badge XBlock developed by IBL Studios. EdX’s portal blog and Concentric Sky –the company that Nate Otto works for– posted this week describing their collaboration.

Acknowledging Open Source Contributors

The Open edX community portal has started a web page to acknowledge open source contributors of the Open edX platform. Some contributions are significant: large features, major upgrades, high-risk security bugs…

This Hall of Fame of contributors is not complete, and that is why edX encourages people to submit their commits.


Stanford Bulk E-Mail (PR-555)
This allows instructors to send e-mail to themselves, course staff, and students from the instructor dashboard.
Google 3rd Party Auth (PRs-2736, 3450, 3553)
This adds requirements, an auth module, a settings mechanism, and an API for auth providers.
Harvard Mentoring XBlock (PR-2814)
This added the mentoring XBlock to requirements and installed apps.
Stanford Email Content History Viewer (PR-4451)
Previously, instructors could only view task information about e-mails they sent, but now they can view entire e-mails.
MITx Release edX-jsme 1.0 (OSPR-43)
This added the jsme package to edX, which provides the molecular struture problem type for capa.
Stanford Certificate Improvements (Multiple OSPRs)
In a series of approximately 25 pull requests to the certificates repo, the Stanford developers released to the open-source community all of the certificate generation code they currently use.
Queen Rania Foundation Right to Left (WIP)
This is part of an ongoing project between QRF and edX to support Right to Left (RTL) text support.
Harvard Annotation Tools (OSPRs-150, 158)
One part of this changes the color and adds borders to annotated images. The other fixes a bug found when using the “share without saving” option for annotation.
Stanford Supoprt and Tests for Adding a Reset Button to Units (OSPR-146)
This decouples “reset” functionality from “randomization” functionality in capa problems.
Stanford Fixed Continuation Related Pep-8 Issues (OSPR-197)
This changeset resolves 105 PEP8 (python style guide) issues.
Stanford  Limit File Upload Size to GridFS (OSPR-168)
This PR puts a limit on the size of files that course staff can upload to MongoDB.
SchoolYourself SchoolYourself XBlock (OSPR-232)
These XBlocks display iframes and send data back and forth between edX and School Yourself.
Stanford XBlock User Service (OSPR-379)
This implements support in the XBlock SDK for the user XBlock service.
OpenCraft Event Tracking for Forums Events (OSPR-82)
This tracks events for student activity analytics reports.
MIT Staff Graded Assignments XBlock (OSPR-337)
This enables students to upload assignment files, and for instructors to download and grade them.
OpenCraft XBlock Settings Service (OSPR-427)
This allows XBlocks access to Django settings.
(for Harvard)
Mentoring XBlock (OSPRs-401, 419, 422, 427)
This cleans up technical debt while adding new functionality to the Mentoring XBlock.
MIT Custom Courses X (OSPR-351)
This allows for a course (or portions of a course) to be reused with a small groups of students.
Stanford Answer Distributions for First vs Last Problem Attempt (OSPRs-413, 414, 415)
This is an upgrade to answer_dist collection task.
Feedback Fruits (with edX) Creative Commons (OSPR-536)
This allows for custom Creative Commons licensing for course content. To learn more about the significance and use of Creative Commons licensing, read the feature report.


Amnesty International Partners With EDX to Launch Its First MOOC Later This Summer

Amnesty International will offer a series of MOOCs about human rights education on, starting in Fall 2015. The first course, “Reclaiming Freedoms through human rights”, will be followed by others over the next several years.

“From the seasoned activist who wants to learn more about human rights, to the technology entrepreneur whose interest has been piqued by the surveillance and privacy debate, these new courses will have something for everyone,” explained edX and Amnesty International.

The goal of the two organizations is to establish the largest online platform for human rights education globally, starting with more than 4 million learners from every country registered on “Our global platform will be an ideal place for the organization to amplify its message of justice for all,” edX said.

In order to develop a course relevant to learners, Amnesty International –who has become edX’s newest member– has set up a survey to determine what kind of course would be of value to users.

[Press Release: Top human rights experts to offer cutting-edge education course with ‘something for everyone’]


IBL Studios Issues an Open Source Badging Platform

Guest Post: James Willis | 06.19.2015

This post originally ran on the Re-Mediating Assessment Blog on June 19, 2015


IBL Studios Issues an Open Source Badging Platform

By James Willis

We worked with Michael Amigot at IBL Studios in a previous project to launch the first instance of open badges in Open edX in Lorena Barba’s Python MOOC at George Washington University. The code to issues badges is now available at GitHub as an open source tool for those interested in issuing their own Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI)-compliant badges. IBL designed this to be “[a] platform to award your own institution’s badges. The badges you create and earn with this server are compatible with the specifications of the OpenBadges project.”

The open badges community continues to grow through the development and implementation of open source software. What distinguishes IBL’s platform is that it is a fully-functioning, badge-issuing open source code that will work with multiple providers, including learning management systems.

It is fully OBI-compliant, multi-language, and tested across platforms. IBL premiered this server in recent MOOC work for the Spanish government. Cross-links are provided for Mozilla Open Badges Backpack and the Open Badges Technical Specification.

Mozilla Open Badges Backpack

Launched in mid-June, this badge server is fully open source so that any site administrator may implement the coding for free. The server is operable with Open edX or other providers so long as the following requirements are met:

  • PHP > 5.3.9 (php5-mysql, php5-json, php-gettext) (Recommended > php 5.4.0)
  • MySQL 5.x (PDO connections are used with php5)
  • Apache2.4 server (you could use Nginx; remember to configure the options properly)
  • mod_rewrite (to protect certain directories with .htaccess files)
  • Certain directories require write permissions (defined in installation process)

At the Open Badges in Higher Education project, we are happy to see these resources going forward for Open edX.  We are continuing to work with IBL and the Open edX community to help instructors and organizations issue open badges that are compliant with the Open Badge Infrastructure standards.

 James Willis, III is a research associate in the Center for Research on Learning and Technology at Indiana University. He has a PhD in comparative religion from King’s College London. His research interests include academic technology and learning assessment, human-machine ethics, and the digital humanities.

[ Update: – An Open-Source Badge Server, Operable With Open edX ]

First MBA on a MOOC Platform


The first all-MOOC graduate degree will be launched in Spring 2016 with an inaugural pilot cohort of 200 students. Applications are open as of this June.

The University of Illinois and Coursera announced the launch of iMBA, the first online MBA program to be offered through the MOOC platform and at an affordable price –the cost will be around $20,000, a third of the cost of MBAs from institutions with similar stature.

“This model is unique in offering enormous flexibility and unprecedented affordability, while maintaining the academic standards and rigor of a top degree program,” President of Daphne Koller wrote in a blog post.

Other top schools are expected to follow this initiative.