Open Thinkering


Open Badges: 3D printing for credentials?

3D printing

I haven’t written about Open Badges for a while, but something struck me on my daily walk this morning.

A lot of what’s holding people and organizations back when it comes to new forms of credentialing is outdated mental models and assumptions. No metaphor will be perfect, but they do allow us to look at things in new ways.

Take 3D printing as a metaphor for Open Badges, for example.

3D printing allows anyone to create things that would previously have been niche, hard to get, or just plain impossible to obtain. It allows for:

  • Reduction in costs (you only print what you need)
  • Bespoke solutions (you can tailor the 3D printed shape to solve a problem)
  • Creativity (you’re not limited to what other people have created)

I think the same is true of Open Badges. You’re not forced to purchase an off-the-shelf credentialing system. You can create something that is tailored to your learners and your context. And you can try things that are truly different when it comes to credentialing.

What do you think? Does 3D printing work as a metaphor for Open Badges and alternative credentialing? I’d be interested in your thoughts!

Image CC BY-NC-SA Craig Kaplan

9 thoughts on “Open Badges: 3D printing for credentials?

  1. Hi Doug,

    The ‘3D printing’ metaphor works for me, however I suspect that for *many* senior stakeholders in businesses / corporates the idea of 3D printing will be just as baffling and ‘alien’ as Open Badges – so probably not the best metaphor to use, to simplify life with them!?!?


    1. Yes – good point, Craig! I think, though, that as 3D printing becomes mainstream (probably before Open Badges, to be honest) it might become a bit more homely. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Could a badge not be embedded within a 3D printed object, perhaps as a RFID tag that connects to a URL that allows the earner to enter their credentials. We could have digital geocaching perhaps!?

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