Today, DMLL staff met with representatives from Coventry City of Culture Trust, Coventry City Council, Warwick University and Coventry University to discuss how Open Badges could break through our own institutional walls and play a part in the lives of our local community members during City of Culture 2021 and beyond.

Meeting in the DMLL Teaching Room over coffee, cookies and plenty of post-it notes, representatives from these different institutions heard some background on open badges before being let loose to collaborate and dream what badges might look like in the city of Coventry.

Open Badges

Small charities, large companies, higher education institutions and many other organisations are able to use Open Badges to recognise work done by members or stakeholders of their communities. A badge can be given for anything from attending a workshop to volunteering hundreds of hours and more. They can also be incorporated into gamified experiences of learning- encouraging people to reach higher goals and engage in new experiences.

In a knowledge economy, Open Badges offer increasing opportunities for people to demonstrate their talent, commitment and willingness to try new things outside of formal education.

Open Badging has been around for several years now, and the DMLL have run a number of small scale pilots to explore what that might look like in our own higher education context; we suspect badges could have a strong impact in our city community as well.

The Meeting

After hearing about some great community-based badging initiatives like the Chicago City of Learning and the Cambridgeshire Culture Card programmes, our guests from the City Council, City of Culture trust and Warwick University were let loose to develop some personas – both of people who would be earning badges as well as organisations who would want to award them.

The ensuing mad sea of yellow rectangles was a thing to behold.

Leading the meeting, Jonathan Shaw, Director of the DMLL, invited the participants to reflect on the different potential users and issuers of badges, see what they have in common and reflect on what other people in the room were discussing. Of course work would need to be done with the final users of digital badges to ensure their voices help shape the process, but it was useful to begin to explore how open badging could play a role in the community.

Jonathan then asked the group to quickly come up with their own ideas for specific badges… who would award them? What might they be awarded for? Again, more work will need to be done to identify those badges which would have the biggest beneficial impact for our city, but as we thought of some specific ones, it became clear that there was a lot of potential.

The aim of the session was to explore the potential for badges in Coventry and to identify any next steps for the group. On the whole, the participants voiced support for the idea, so the conversation turned to next steps, which involve identifying key people to speak to, the creation a business plan and a formal proposal for the project.

Our thanks

This meeting was a long time in the making, and we are so thankful to all those who took the time out of their tight schedules to explore the potential of digital badges in our community.

We’re so excited to see how this will take shape over the coming weeks and hopefully be a big part of the City of Culture 2021 and beyond.

It’s early days yet, but if you’d like to get in touch with us about Open Badges you can email