Prototyping Open Privacy Badges

This blog post was co-authored by Doug Belshaw, collaborator on the “Co-Designing Open Privacy Badges for Privacy Education with Canadian Youth” project.  

The Open Badges Infrastructure [OBI] is a system of exchanging and displaying metadata-infused, web-native credentials. What this means in practice is that any kind of knowledge, skills or dispositions can be recognized — by any sort of organization. Badges have been issued for everything from ‘soft skills’ such as confidence and teamwork, through to the knowledge, skills and understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Hive Toronto decided to prototype a badge system to encourage teens to learn about privacy. The project, funded by The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has made use of paper prototyping with teen peer researchers and other participants in the project. Paper prototyping involves using low-fidelity materials like paper, glue, markers and chart paper to convey a design concept. Three kinds of prototyping were utilized in this project. Many of the prototyping methods are demonstrated in our video remix to recap the paper prototyping methods used in the project, with additional details provided here.

1) Protyping badge concepts
When coming up with an idea for a badge, there are many useful resources to help. One of these is the badge canvas, which helps individuals and organizations think through their badge in a systematic way. Sometimes, however, this is a little too high-bar to begin with.

Another approach is to sketch a badge idea, giving it a name and description to help the concept come to life. The “sketch and describe” prototyping method was used extensively in the Hive Toronto project.

2) Prototyping a badge system
Sometimes a “system” of badges need to be designed versus a single badge. For the Hive Toronto privacy badges project, creating 10 badges was the opening goal of the project. At an early stage in the project, the teen peer researchers used paper cut outs of paper badges to brainstorm a system of 10 privacy badges that could be interlinked in an educational setting. The paper cut outs utilized a templated approach, with various colours and sizes of badges, to help convey the relationships between the badges in the system.


3) Prototyping learning pathways
In the Hive Toronto privacy badges project, the 10 prototype badge concepts were arranged thematically under the area of Personal Information, Privacy Policy, Privacy in Everyday Life and Privacy Futures.


For this project, the badges will be developed as prototypes (i.e., the curriculum for the badges will be online and presented with badge images and metadata).  Possible implementers of the curriculum in informal learning settings include: legal/civic education organizations, public libraries and after school programs. We are currently developing learning pathways for these settings which may cut across the above described themes.

Although this project strives to create a prototype level badge system, we will strive to stretch a little further.  We utilized draft versions of the teaching activities in the badge system for activities such as the Data Trail Timeline, IP Address Tracer, and Privacy Coach on Feb. 21st, 2015 at an educators’ event.  We are also aiming to make a couple of the badges earnable through Webmaker. We hope that making a couple of the privacy badges in the system earnable, will enhance community-level understandings of the usefulness of building out a fully functional privacy badges system for Canadian teens.