Open badges: a novel way of recognizing learning

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Have you ever heard of “Open Badges”?

If you have taken online courses, you may be familiar with digital badges or symbols that you get after accomplishing a level, task or an entire course. An Open Badge is an advanced version of this since information about how you achieved it can be accessed by clicking on it. The badge can also be displayed on other online platforms not just the site where you took the course.

The concept of Open Badges began in 2010 when Mozilla and its partners (with funding from the MacArthur Foundation) began developing a new way to recognize learning wherever it happened. They wanted a system that could motivate people to learn and designed a visual representation that was “portable” and easy to display.

Today, in the expanding arena of open education, Open Badges are now being used and accepted by thousands of organizations and educational institutions in formal and informal face-to-face learning as well as online.

What are Open Badges?

Much like certificates, ribbons or physical badges, Open Badges are visual, digital representations of participation, achievements, certifications or new skills. These skills and achievements may be practical or educational and acquired in and out of formal education and online. They can be seen as rewards that signify an attainment of a goal and help encourage and motivate learners to continue learning. However, unlike traditional badges, Open Badges are metadata-infused. They contain information such as:

  • Badge name
  • Description
  • Criteria
  • Issuer
  • Evidence
  • Data Issue
  • Standards
  • Tags

These can vary based on the issuer’s criteria or standards for achieving the badge. Essentially, when you click on an Open Badge, you will know what the person did to achieve it, the degree of difficulty of the tasks (Criteria URL and an Evidence URL) and a link back to the issuing institution for verification or more information. This makes the badge not only a visual representation of an achievement, it also provides vital information about the nature of the achievement.

You can collect Open Badges that you earn in a “digital backpack.” Examples of this are Mozilla Backpack and Open Badge Passport. Both are free services that allow you to save and sort your badges. From these backpacks, you can choose the sites (your website, blog, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and other online personal platforms) where you want to share your badges. Mozilla and Open Badge are compatible with each other. There are other backpack services available.

Watch this video from ChicagoArtDept to know more about Open Badges:

How are Open Badges important to you? What can you use it for?

In an increasingly competitive world, everyone needs to become a lifelong learner. Newcomer or not, we all need to update and renew our knowledge and continue exploring new things. Open Badges can be your partner in self-directed learning. The system makes it easier for you to showcase all your skills and can motivate you to continue your learning journey.

  1. The Open Badges system is important for lifelong learners because it is a flexible, non-traditional way of recognizing all kinds of learning. Open Badges capture and validate not only technical skills but soft skills as well. They can be applied in informal and formal learning.
  2. Open Badges are designed to build and enhance your online profile. As digital presence grows in importance in the professional world, the system can help you boost your online image and complement your resume. This can be a helpful tool for newcomers in career transition and as they re-establish themselves in their field in a new environment.
  3. As Open Badges can be made visible on many online personal and professional platforms, it can increase opportunities for you. Open Badges are accepted and recognized by a growing number of organizations the world over.

Are Open Badges free?

It is free to collect and share Open Badges. However, the issuer (the organization or educational institution where you got it from) may charge for this service. It is also possible that some owners of sites where you want to display your badges may ask for a fee.

Sources: Open Badges (Mozilla Foundation), So what are Open Badges? Jisc Support Centres; Answering your questions on Open Badges , Doug Belshaw; Open Badges Validation in Folkbildning and volunteer activities; Recognizing self-directed learners with Open Badge eCredentials , Don Presant; What is Open Education? Opensource.com.

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