How Can You Use APIs and Integrations to Help Issue Digital Badges?

How Can You Use APIs and Integrations to Help Issue Digital Badges?

Openbadges.me has multiple API functions that can be used to make your badge issuing process as streamlined and as flexible as possible – saving you both time and money on administrative work. Before we get started with those, let’s just quickly walk through what an API is.

API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a piece of software that allows two applications to talk to each other (in this case, one of the applications is Openbadges.me). Some of the applications you can link with Openbadges.me include Google Forms and Sheets, Moodle, Canvas and more. With applications such as Moodle and Canvas, Openbadges.me will use the API to obtain data from these systems and issue badges based on this data. This may be first name, last name, email address, tasks completed etc – whatever information is in your LMS!

Basically, an API improves the efficiency of your badging process and allows you to spend more time on other important tasks you or your team have.

Using APIs to issue your badges can bring you a host of advantages. For example, with APIs you have the option of using rule-based issuing, which allows you to issue your badges automatically based on the data obtained from different systems. Rule-based issuing is something that is built into Openbadges.me, so you can manage the rules you put in place, all in one place. Even better, this functionality is completely unique to Openbadges.me. The beauty of rule-based issuing is that it reduces the manual work needed to issue badges - you no longer need to remember to issue badges yourself, the platform simply remembers the rules and criteria you have put in place and automatically issues the badges for you based on those rules.

Another advantage of rule-based issuing is that badges are delivered to the recipient automatically, in a timely way. Issuing digital badges manually can be an easy way to start, but as you want to issue more badges and have increasingly complex criteria associated with badges, issuing manually can lead to mistakes and badges can lose credibility. For example, a student involved in a summer reading program works hard to reach a milestone of reading eight books. Upon submitting a form, they expect to receive a badge straightaway to congratulate them – which will happen every time using APIs and rule-based issuing. However, if the process is manually driven and they receive no badge for their hard work or receive that badge too late, they may be demotivated, unhappy at the result, and likely won’t further engage with the program, or future programs.

Google Forms & Sheets

Now, we know how technical APIs and integrations sound, and we know that not everyone is not a developer or has programming knowledge. In this case, we would highly recommend using our dedicated add-on for Google forms and sheets. The add-ons are easy to use and work on the basis of sending a form to a potential badge recipient, or inputting data into an online sheet – thus triggering a badge to be automatically issued. We’ve even put together a little guide to get you started: “Using Google Forms & Sheets to issue Open Badges”.

With Google forms and sheets in place, you can involve users who don’t really need to know much about the technical side of Open Badges. Let's look at how a school could use Open Badges with Google Forms and Sheets. Firstly, you would have an administrator who would be the first point of contact for Openbadges.me This could be the IT manager, the LMS administrator, or whoever is best suited for the role. This person will know every aspect of the schools digital badging process. Let's say the administrator in this scenario is the IT manager.

When deciding how the school wants to issue badges, a teacher might want a digital badge to be issued to a student for exemplary work or behaviour within class. Teachers are busy as it is and the last thing they would want is additional work – so to make the whole process easier, they would complete a simple Google form on behalf of the student to say they would like to issue a badge to that student. Behind the scenes, the IT manager has already setup an API that collects data from those forms to share with the Openbadges.me platform. They can then use the "rules-based issuing" function to automatically issue badges based on that data.

The process requires very little input from the teacher and a simple set up from the IT manager, so they can continue with their main responsibilities with no disruptions whilst creating an efficient badging workflow.

If you are a developer, we also have something for you too. Here is our developer guide for using APIs with Openbadges.me

You can issue badges in multiple ways, APIs and integrations is just one of them! If you like the sound of APIs or simply want a further understanding on how they can help you and your organisation, then we are happy to provide a free consultation to help you along your way. We will also be there if you begin using APIs and run into some problems – just send us an email at info@openbadges.me and we’ll get straight on it!