What are Open Badges?
When you were a child, did you ever hang badges on a wall in your den, or store your spelling bee ribbons at the bottom of your sock drawers? Badges are still a large part of our culture, but now they’ve gone digital and are portable, so you can take them anywhere. Open Badges, like the paper or cloth badges in the past, recognize skills, milestones and achievements. They act as a reward for learning or accomplishing a task. You can earn badges inside and outside the classroom, community organization, and workplace, as well as online and offline. You can earn a badge for course completion or finishing an activity (such as watching a video and taking a quiz). You can collect them and store them in one place from multiple entities and share them with the world on social networking profiles such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and on job sites and websites.
Badges can be issued and verified by companies, training providers, schools, professional bodies, after-school programs, community learning entities, and other groups. See Mozilla Open Badges on Wikipedia for more information on entities issuing and verifying badges.
What makes badges unique is their embedded metadata. A badge shows advanced certification that is completely searchable. Data such as date issued, expiration date, criteria for earning the badge, and evidence (a link or a description) are embedded in a badge.
How Popular are Open Badges?
Mozilla hopes to have 10 million badge users by the end of 2016. The article also explains how some companies are using badges to recognize and celebrate the goals reached by sales staff, offering badges for certain dollar amounts sold over a certain period of time.
How do Open Badges Benefit You?
As a student, employee, volunteer or subject matter expert, you can collect badges digitally and store them in one place (instead of in cardboard boxes in the attic). You can share them on social networking profiles and websites. They could also possibly assist with future job opportunities and education endeavors. See Mozilla Open Badges on Wikipedia for more information about job- and education-related benefits. Displaying your badges could, along with your one-on-one chat and application, help get your foot in the door of a volunteer organization, be part of the criteria that helps you in getting accepted into a university, or helps you land that important interview.
Earning badges can be motivating. Once some learners earn a badge, they become almost addicted to earning badges and joyfully watching their collection grow. See “Top 5 Benefits of Open Badges for Corporates” and “The Penny Drops with Open Badges” about the feel-good, addictive quality of badges. As their skill set solidifies and diversifies, their confidence will hopefully grow, too.
How do Open Badges Benefit Others?
Whether you’re an employer, a school or a community learning organization, badges can help separate potential candidates from the pack. According to “Top 5 Benefits of Open Badges for Corporates,” they essentially give employers, schools and organizations proof that a learner took initiative and is a person of action who wants to learn new skills. A collection of badges demonstrates a commitment to ongoing learning, according to the Open Badges website. It can also identify competence in a person or expertise in a certain subject matter.
What are Mozilla Backpacks?
Creating a Mozilla Backpack showcases your interests, talents and skills. Learners create Mozilla backpacks to help them manage their badges, storing the badges digitally and securely in collections for easy display on various platforms.
How are Open Badges Issued?
An issuer simply performs some basic entry before creating and issuing badges. The issuer enters the name of the badge, a description, chooses an image, lists the creator/issuer name and contact information, and enters an expiration date. He or she can issue badges by role, by sets of courses completed, and use other criteria. An issuer can hand out a badge to learners simply for updating their profile. Once a badge has been created, learners can get notifications that the badge exists, and it will show up in their Mozilla Backpacks as well. A badge report can be emailed to learners at certain intervals (weekly, monthly, etc.)
How Does Mozilla Manage Open Badges?
Mozilla Open Badges are managed by the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI), which is a standard that assures badges move easily from one platform to another. See “So What Are Open Badges?” for more information on the OBI. Mozilla’s free software is designed for any organization to use for badge creation and verification. Open Badges are supported by an open-source international community of designers, builders and contributors, including NASA, Disney and Intel. Learners can earn badges from various entities online and off, and Mozilla will manage them in the Backpack. See the Open Badges website for more details about the open-source community and how badges are managed. Entities such as schools or employers can, anytime, anywhere, verify that a badge and its owner are legitimate by analyzing the metadata.
In addition to the works mentioned in the above article, we also consulted the YouTube videos “Open Badges” by Joyce Seitzinger and “An Introduction to Open Badges” by Ryan Tracey. There are also plenty of informative articles and videos on Open Badges and Mozilla Backpacks online.