Relevance: Why Alignment matters to badges
One of the primary functions of Badges is to act as indicators of achievement – academic, personal, community, or otherwise. You've accomplished something, documented it, been recognized by your mentors and your peers. You have skills and the badge to prove it!
So what skills were they?
Before you answer, ask yourself whether you're about to use words that your listener will understand. Particularly when your listener will be a computer.
The Open Badges ecosystem will, at its heart, be an intricately interwoven collaborative enterprise linking human organizations and software systems to encourage and document meaningful learning experiences through digital data systems. Systems. Plural. If we accept that John might earn his SQL Programmer Badge in one system, while Susan earns her SQL Coder Badge from another… then potential employer Laurie must be able to find them both and make an apples-to-apples comparison in a third, employer-focused system.
The only way this can be accomplished is if all three of those systems – and in fact, every individual system that chooses to join the Open Badge Ecosystem – can speak the same language when describing qualifications.
This is of the utmost importance to badge issuers, because badges that do not claim relevance in the agreed-upon way will stand mute, looking as if they have nothing to say – and thus fall to the "Uncategorized" bottom of every search. Worse: consider the future of an unaligned Badge in a world driven by powerfully innovative systems like Adams 50/LevelUP'sstudent competency maps – there is no home for a badge with no box.