Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mozilla Open Badges 1.0. Show your skills to the world.

We have been accrediting our skills for decades. Each time we achieved a goal, got a certification or received an award we ran to put in our curriculum. That was the classic way we used to get our first job or get a better one.  When the www appeared, we build awesome webs, ePortfolios, professional networks to make it open to the world, waiting to get a $million/year job offer :-D.

In the best-case scenarios, we must accredit the skills we said and that produces that tons of original papers or digital certificates should run with you to verify that it's true. In other cases, it's more difficult or impossible to get a valid accreditation. In some ways, it seems that certifying higher education studies is a problem resolved but not for the skills you get out of a regular line. Well, not since now. Here comes Mozilla Open Badges 1.0 released on 03/14/2013.

Mozilla Open Badges is a project that allow us to get together all the accreditation/certification,  learning recognition and skills from multiple sources (online and offline) using badges. A badge is a PNG image (with some embedded data) that basically represents an achievement or skill. They are used to represent an accomplishment of a set goals, commonly out of the regular education like online courses, after-school programs, communities, or skills gotten in work.

badges issued by Webmaker project

Institutions, online learning platforms, communities, even games will be able to generate their own badges depending on their activity. Once somebody earns a badge could be downloaded or stored on a Backpack. The Mozilla Backpack is an authorized data storage space and management interface for earners of Open Badges. Each earner can access their own Backpack that holds all of their badges and gives them an interface to manage and share their badges.

Earners and Issuers can host their own Backpack server using the main open source code. Mozilla offers his own instance of Backpack Service for registered earners, linking the badges to their email addresses.

When a user has his badges in the Backpack, he can link them to social networks, CMSs, or LMSs in order to show to the world their skills and be success with their purpose, get the $million/year job :). Nowadays, exists some widgets implementations for Facebook, Drupal, Blackboard, Moodle, and more. 

Open Badges process (Extracted from
We can find several institutions in Open Badges comunity that are already offering badges: Smithsonian American Art Museum, NYC Department of Education, Dr Chuck Online,... and others that are currently designing their own like NASA, Microsoft or Disney Pictures. 

The success of that framework will depend on the levels of adoption by the different actors. On one hand we find MOOC platforms like Coursera, Udacity, edX... along with high education institutions, they can determine an inflection point if they start to give certificates of achievement using OB. But we have to consider that, it can't be used as de facto standard until social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn (great people showcase) get involved and integrate it in naturally.

If we look at Europe, we can see a big door opened to apply Open badges on "European Space for the Higher Education". ESHE defined a common framework of readable and comparable degrees, through the implementation of a Diploma Supplement which has the information about the studies content and competences achieved to improve the mobility of students between European countries that have signed this contract. I feel that Open Badges can help to accomplish these requirements. In my opinion it seems a very good initiative, and the project grows with well-focused ideas. Maintaining it as an open source project will ensure that an important thing like this accreditation standard will survive to private business interests and will facilitate the adoption by institutions. 

If you are still  interested, I recommend you also read:
Open Badges project:
The New York Times article : Show me your badge