Today's learning happens everywhere. Not just in the classroom. But it's often difficult to get recognition for the skills you acquire online or outside of traditional school. Mozilla's Open Badges projectis working to solve that problem, making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web. The result: badges can help today's learners display 21st century skills, unlock career and educational opportunities, and level up in their life and work.
We are constantly searching for new things to learn and do, engage and expand upon. Many of us do not want or need acknowledgement for these efforts, but why not link these extra activities to an acknowledgment structure (a less rigid certification engine) that allows the individual to capitalize on initiative? More importantly, why not allow a structure where those unable to attend costly and geographically limiting higher education institutions can demonstrate progress, skilling, even cognitive development?
I read that Mozilla is developing Open Badges that document the mastery of content, too. The writer tells us that the badges won't be stamps...they'll actually contain metadata which documents the institution that is certifying the knowledge that the bearer has. That's a pretty interesting idea....because it heightens the idea that learners are in charge of their own destiny; deciding where to go to find what they need, learning it and convincing the institution that they've "got it".
The emphasis I think most people are looking at today (based on the reactions I saw via Twitter at least) were on the “badges” aspect. Is this just a digital version of getting a star next to your name when you line up nicely and quietly to go to the library? Are badges juvenile? Are badges just a trend? Do badges reward inconsequential achievements? Are badges better/worse than grades, than graduation certificates? Are we focusing too much on extrinsic motivations? Are badges another crude way to “gamify” education? Should we be concerned that Arne Duncan thinks badges are a “game-changer”?
By successfully completing course assignments participants can unlock various skills badges that show what they have achieved. Badges can be awarded by peers also participating on the course. The framework for tyhe open badge system is outlined more fully in a draft article called An open badge system framework.
The Mozilla Foundation and Peer-to-Peer University (P2PU), among others, are working to take the idea of merit-earned badges and build a framework around which they can be used as alternative but accepted forms of certification.
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