Recognising Achievement with Badges and Blockchain in a Connectivist MOOC




MOOC, cMOOC, badge, blockchain, Webmention, RSS, decentralised, eLearning, educational technology


While previous work has recognized the potential for open badges and blockchain to play a role in online courses, this potential has yet to be realized in a fully decentralized cMOOC. This paper describes the design objectives of an application that integrates open badges and blockchain with a cMOOC. The work described was undertaken during the offering on an online course, and thus development took place in an actual course context with interaction with course participants. The full workflow from course content to storage on the blockchain is described, and some concluding comments are offered on the results of this course, and the potential for future applications.

Author Biography

Stephen Downes, National Research Council Canada

Researcher, Digital Technologies Research Centre


Albeanu, G. (2017). Blockchain technology and education. In M. Vlada (Ed.), The 12th International Conference on Virtual Learning ICVL 2017 (pp. 271-275). Bucharest University Press. Retrieved from

Bates, T. (2014, 10 13). Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: Philosophy and practice. Retrieved from

Børresen, L.J. & Skjerven, S.A. (2018). Detecting fake university degrees in a digital world. University World News, 14 September 2018. Retrieved from

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. Springer: New York.

World Wide Web Consortium (2017, 1 12). Webmention. Retrieved from

Fournier H., Molyneaux H., Kop R. (2019) Human factors in new personal learning ecosystems: Challenges, ethical issues, and opportunities. In C. Stephanidis (Eds.), HCI International 2019 - Posters. HCII 2019. Communications in Computer and Information Science, 1034, (pp. 230-238). Springer, Cham.

Gräther, W., et al. (2018). Blockchain for education: Lifelong learning passport. Proceedings of 1st ERCIM Blockchain Workshop 2018. Retrieved from

Hood, N., & Littlejohn, A. (2016). Quality in MOOCs: Surveying the terrain. Commonwealth of Learning. Retrieved from

IMS Global. (2018). Open Badges v2.0 IMS Final Release. Retrieved from

IMS Global. (2018a). Open Badges Baking Specification IMS Final Release. Retrieved from

Lab, M. M. (2016, 10 24). Blockcerts—An open infrastructure for academic credentials on the blockchain. Medium. Retrieved from:

Levine, A. (2014). A MOOC or not a MOOC: ds106 Questions the Form. In S. D. Krause, & C. Lowe, Invasion of the MOOCs: The promises and perils of Massive Open Online Courses (pp. 29-38). Anderson, South Carolina: Parlor Press. Retrieved from D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DAnother_Colonialist_Tool

McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC model for digital practice. University of Prince Edward Island. Retrieved from

Mozilla. (2012, August 27). Open badges for lifelong learning. The Mozilla Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University, in collaboration with The MacArthur Foundation. Mozilla Foundation. Retrieved from

Nakamoto, S. (2009). Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Retrieved from

Sharples, M., & Domingue, J. (2016). The blockchain and kudos: A

distributed system for educational record, reputation and reward. In K. Verbert, M. Sharples, & T. Klobučar (Eds.), Adaptive and Adaptable Learning. ECTEL 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 9891, (pp. 490-496). Springer, Cham. Retrieved from

Swan, M. (2015). Blockchain: Blueprint for a new economy. O'Reilly.

University of Sussex. (2012, 8 29). Improving Moodle import. Part 1: The database schema. Retrieved from



How to Cite

Downes, S. (2019). Recognising Achievement with Badges and Blockchain in a Connectivist MOOC. Journal of Learning for Development, 6(3).



Reports from the Field