An idea like Badges for Learning builds on the ideas of many people. It gets carried forward until it finds the right moment, the right conditions, and the right influencers who can give an idea traction. We can see flickers of the idea in Eva Baker’s End of Testing, and a case for badges in Philipp Schmidt’s peer to peer recognition. Paul Resnick was hinting at the need for portability of reputation in 2000, and of course Xbox launched achievements in 2002. James Gee and the MacArthur Foundation were talking about badges back in 2007, and Mozilla gotinterested in the badge portability piece in 2010. Not quite enough to launch badges into the stratosphere, but an auspicious start to a good idea.
Along came the Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative in 2011, which, thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, made the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition possible, and funded Mozilla to roll out its Open Badges Infrastructure. Our early collaborators included NASA, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Microsoft, Intel, Motorola, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, UC Davis, Department of Education, National Manufacturing Institute, Disney, the Smithsonian, the American Library Association and other big organizations that helped create an early badge ecosystem.