What are open badges?
  • 21 Jun 2022
  • 6 minutes to read

What are open badges?

Article Summary

Badges are a form of digital credential, awarded to users for the achievement or demonstration of certain skills, knowledge or behaviours. As of Totara 13, Open Badges 2.0 is supported, meaning badges can use a range of new features such as multiple languages and version control.

After earning a badge, users can choose to display it publicly across a variety of social and professional networking platforms. When a badge is shared and displayed, details of the badge (such as the criteria for earning the badge and the organisation who awarded the badge) are shown. 

Within Totara, there are two types of badges:

  • Site badges: Available to all users within a site and awarded for activities or criteria at the system level - such as completing a program or adding information to a user profile field
  • Course badges: Available to users enrolled in a course and awarded for activities, behaviours or actions within course - such as completing an activity or the course

Creating badges

Open badges can be created by users with the capability badges:createbadge at the site and/or course context. By default, this capability is included in the Site Administrator, Site Manager, Course Creator and Editing Trainer roles.

Badges can be added and awarded at either the site or course level. Adding a site or course badge is a similar process, however the criteria available for awarding the badge differ.

In order to add a new badge, Badges must be enabled via Configure features in the quick-access menu. 

The Open Badges 2.0 specification also allows you to add related badges to a badge. You can use this feature to keep track of different versions of your badges, such as the same badge in multiple languages or updated versions of older badges.

All related badges for the current badge are displayed in a list on the Related badges tab with their Name, Version, Language and badge Type.

Enabling access to the badge

Once all mandatory badge details and the badge criteria have been set, choose Enable access to begin awarding the badge to users.

Enabling a badge will update the badge status. The status of a badge determines its behaviour in the system:

  • Available: The badge can be earned by users. While a badge is available to users, its criteria cannot be modified.
  • Not available: The badge is not available to users and cannot be earned or manually issued. If the badge has never been issued, its criteria can be changed.

Once a badge has been issued to at least one user, it automatically becomes Locked. Locked badges can still be earned by users, but the badge criteria can not be changed.

Managing badges

Once badges have been added at the site or course level, they can be viewed, updated, issued and deleted via the Manage badges area. 

For site-level badges this page is available via the Badges block within Badges under the quick-access menu.

For course level badges this page may be accessed via Course administration > Badges > Manage badges under the Administration block.

Viewing and updating badges

The Manage badges page lists all current, enabled and disabled badges and the following information:



Displays the image associated with badge and the badge name.

The image of the badge cannot be changed once the criteria have been set and the badge issued to users. 

Badge status

Shows whether the badge is available to users and whether changes to the issuing criteria are Locked.

Badges may be made available to users via the Enable/Disable icon (/).


Displays the criteria that needs to be met in order for the badge to be awarded.

The badge Criteria cannot be changed once the badge has been issued to users.


This shows the number of users that have been awarded the badge.

To display the details of the recipients of the badge, select the value displayed in this column.


A range of actions can be performed against each badge. This includes:

  • Disable/EnableToggle to enable or disable access to the badge.
  • EditIn order to change the details of a badge, it must be Disabled
  • Duplicate: Create a new badge with the same settings as the selected badge.
  • DeleteSelecting this will delete the badge with the option to keep or remove already issued badges. 

Availability of the Enable and Disable access Actions depends on the current status of a badge. For example if a badge is available to users, the disable access icon will be shown.

Only certain badge details can be changed once a badge has been issued to users.

Clicking on the name of a badge will also provide access to the Edit badge area.

To modify the Description or Criteria of a locked badge, use the Copy option to create a new badge with the required changes.

Deleting a badge

When you decide to delete a badge there are two options:

  • Delete, but keep existing issued badges
  • Delete and remove all existing issued badges  

If you select Delete, but keep existing issued badges then the badge will no longer be available and users will not be able to earn this badge.  Existing badge recipients will still be able to display this badge on their profile page. The badge will be marked as Retired and will no longer appear in the list of badges on the Manage badges page.

Choosing Delete and remove all existing issued badges will mean the badge will no longer be available and any users who have earned this badge will not be able to access it and display it on their profile pages. Fully deleting a badge means that all its information and criteria records will be permanently removed.

Badge notifications

After adding a badge at the site or course level, the notification sent to all users who earn the badge, may be further customised using the HTML editor provided.

The following variables can be included in the Message subject:

  • %badgename% : This will be replaced by the badge's full name.
  • %username% : This will be replaced by the recipient's full name.
  • %badgelink% : This will be replaced by the public URL with information about the issued badge.

Individual user badge management

Viewing badges

Any badges you have earned and have chosen to share are displayed within your profile page via your user menu.  

Clicking on the badge name or badge image will open a new page displaying all badge details. Here you can download a copy of the badge.

You can also view your most recently earned badges through the Latest badges block. This block can be added to the home page, any course page and all dashboards, and can be configured to display any number of badges. By default it displays the latest ten badges issued to you.

Managing badges

You can manage the site and course badges that have been issued to you via Preferences > Manage badges from your user menu.

The Manage badges area allows you to:

  • View all earned badges and badge details
  • Download an individual badge or all badges
  • Manage badge visibility via their use profile page
  • Perform a search across all badges

If a badge expiry date has passed, an Expired indicator will be added to the badge image and badge name. Expired badges are still displayed on your profile page.

Displaying badges

You can chose which of your earned badges are displayed within your profile area via the Manage badges area. This area shows all of the badges awarded to you on the site, as well as any badges from other sites in your connected backpack.

The visibility of badges can be toggled by clicking the public () and make private ().

Next steps

C016 - Badges(2)The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Open badges in Totara. Here you can learn more on how to use open badges, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

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