Intangible Value Blockchain + xAPI + OpenBadges = BadgeChain

What if you knew? What if you knew that the effort you put into something actually had value beyond the immediacy of completed task?

What if the effects of that task could never account for an ROI? What compels us to even start that task, that project, that strategy if we can’t possibly know the benefits, the beneficiaries or the positive change that we could be affecting and effecting?

How would our stakeholders react, and how do we know it is benchmarked against what our competitors (or rather a collegiate for change) are doing beyond marketing and media kudos, and into real, significant impact – the value of intrinsically motivated efforts to add value, not to wealth, but to the value we can bring to society?

How would we possibly start to turn that value into data that we could then start to manage, analyse and make actionalbe and data-informed decisions on?

We’d need a common language, a common means to express and represent our activities, that of our agents of change, and that of the recipients and beneficiaries of the change we are facilitating.

That language exists, and it’s called the Experience API (or xAPI for short), and is already underpinning aspects of the OpenBadges movement – where intellectual currency may be in it’s infancy (seen as some as extrinsic motivators for learning), but the recognition of educational transactions across diverse and ubiquitous learning environments is becoming a common outward expressions of intrinsic desires to develop and grow, published for all on LinkedIn profiles (for more information, please take a look at BadgeChains –

If you want to know more, you’ll need to follow this project – not to be given the answers, but to be participants of the change in the way that activities which generate intangible value can be represented as a simple yet powerful statement: [Actor] [Verb] [Object] – [You] [Read] [Blogpost on IVBxAPI], [You] [Searched] [What is xAPI], [You] [Completed] [#LearnxAPI MOOC by Curatr], [We] [Started] [Intangible Value Blockchain project using #xAPI]…

We are reaching out to teams such as ( – setup by Aaron E. Silvers and Megan Bowe )to raise the knowledge and power of the Experience API from specification to application for the better good.

With your help, we can make the statement [Intangible Value Blockchain with xAPI] [Started] [Positive transferable change to Society].

Jim Harris is a Learning Designer at The Univeristy of Northampton – follow me here:

7 thoughts on “Intangible Value Blockchain + xAPI + OpenBadges = BadgeChain

    1. Thanks Ale, and I think there is merit in shifting the discussion of badges as externally facing representations of achievement, and into internal beacons of status satisfaction – if a badge/beacon has underlying criteria for being awarded, the badges can then be internally reflected to establish progress towards achievement along an expected path (and therefore which paths are being followed/ avoided), the badge then becomes an internal measure rather than an extrinsic motivator. We also need to see education as a continuum (“badges” are already being used by Department of Education in the measures of school performances in Reading, Writing and Maths – whilst not shiny artefacts, the way schools are measured in achievement levels are effectively scales of badges awarded to each year group, with data layers underneath used to target support and intervention). When looking for a common dialogue in Blockchain, badges may well be one method of balancing the learning passport in the absence of a better, more intrinsic representation (that’s probably a project for another blog!).

      1. Thank you for your reply, Jim. Your focus is then on badges as evidence of achievement (“credentials”, as enthusiasts call them). Is that right? That approach in itself is rewards based and therefore problematic.

        My questions are about (1) credibility and rigour (exactly the same concern that affects badges), and (2) how you think this approach differs from the largely unsuccessful Open Badges – i.e. how this approach has learned from past errors. Can you provide further insight?


  1. Question really. Could this help with engagement with flipped classes. Getting students to do the preparatory work beforehand; rewarding those who engage more fully?

    1. Hi Scott,
      The problem is precisely in your question: “rewards”. We know that a “do this, so you’ll get that” approach (i.e. a rewards-based, behaviouristic approach) does not work in the mid or long term – in fact, it de-motivates people, especially when higher-order thinking is expected or required. I can point you to evidence – here’s a brief summary:

      1. Hi Ale,
        Thank you, I had not seen Kohn’s book so thank you for that. His stand is very clear that rewards don’t work.
        I entirely agree that intrinsic motivators must be the primary approaches, this link has some overarching ideas (I know it focused on schools not HE but some are still valid).
        But isn’t it also fair to say students are motivated by extrinsic motivators, the main one being grades? I am not a particular fan of badges, they will work for some and not for others and also the reasons you mention. Are they authentic as well, is it a gimmick and do the students see that way? So how do we get to the strategic learners who are motivated by grades ?

  2. Interesting discussion. Well, yes badges tend to have a short lifespan and the excitement wears out quickly. Credentials might have a longer lifespan and they definitely have a different sheen depending on a) where they come from and b) what one does with them. Both of course are part of a behavioural view of the world which stands on the do ut des principle: i give in order to get. Yet, we give and take for both extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors and what might be extrinsic for one person, might be intrinsic for another, and it might change over time. So, the first point i would like to make in this discussion is that when it comes to learning, for example, a varied diet of different type of motivational clues is the best option. The second point i want to make about behaviourism more broadly is that whether we like it or not, we are, as Manu argues, part of the Behavioral economy and the Internet of Things we all use (like this blog) is part of it. I would really suggest you read it, Manu , A. (2015) Value Creation and the Internet of Things. How the behaviour economy will shape the 4th Industrial Revolution. Farnham: Gower Publishing

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