Why? Because an Open Badge complies with the Open Badges Specification. Information about your award is embedded into the badge image: the badge is more than an image alone.

Take this badge, which I issued to myself by signing up for Accredible’s free trial service:

Example digital badge.

Now, the badge is issued by Accredible, and I cannot tamper with it in its web location. However, as with a digital badge from any issuer, I can also download a local image file. To all intents and purposes the downloaded image behaves like a normal .png file. However, it is a valid Open Badge, and I can show this by using a verification service. For example, Accredible’s verification service lets me upload and validate:

Open Badge is shown to be valid.

Since the badge is Open Badge compliant, I can verify it using another tool, such as the IACET OpenBadge Verification Tool.  If I upload my badge and verify it, the page reports that the badge is valid, and displays more information such as the issuer, issue date, name etc.

So how do I share my badge? What happens if rather than using the original image, or the embed links that it comes with, I simply grab a screenshot and save it? Because let’s face it, we’re busy and that is easy to do! :)

My badge still looks okay:

Screenshot of digital badge.

But let’s go and verify it by uploading to a verification service:

The screenshot of our badge cannot be verified.

All is not well. The embedded information has been lost.

If I convert the badge file to a JPEG the same thing happens – the embedded information has been lost.

What about if I edit the downloaded badge image and then save it as a PNG, such as this one, to make it look as if I have a better award than I really have:

Manually edited badge image.

Interestingly it still verifies, but even better the verification retrieves the original badge image that I cannot tamper with and my deviousness is exposed:

Verification shows the correct badge image.

To wrap up then, here are some do’s and don’ts for caring for your Open Badges:

Do

  • Use the original image for the badge that you can download from the issuing site
  • Where provided, use the built in mechanisms for emailing, embedding, and social media sharing, rather than attempting a DIY solution
  • Verify any badges that you are relying on to prove a person’s achievements

Don’t

  • Take and use screenshots of your badges
  • Save the badge in a different file format
  • Edit or change the badge using image editing software

To get started with Open Badges for free, go to our sign up page. You will find everything you need, including an easy to use and powerful badge designer.