You can learn anything you want on the Internet, so the adage goes. But even if that’s true, even if it’s now easier than ever to learn about almost any subject online, there are still very few opportunities to gain formal recognition — “credit,” if you will — for informal learning done online.
In September, the Mozilla Foundation launched its Open Badges Project, an effort to develop a technology framework that would make it easier to build, display and share digital learning badges. These badges are meant to showcase and recognize all kinds of skills and competencies — subject matter expertise as college degrees are meant to indicate for example, as well “soft skills” that aren’t so easily apparent based on traditional forms of credentialing. (We examined some of the technology infrastructure of the Open Badges Project in a story earlier this year.)
When the Mozilla Foundation announced the Open Badges Project, it was in conjunction with the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC, as “Badges for Lifelong Learning” is the theme of this year’s Digital Media and Learning Competition, an annual contest that supports research of how digital technologies are changing the way we learn and work. On stage at the formal unveiling of the Open Badges Project were representatives from not just Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation, but from the Departments of Education, Labor and Veterans Affairs, from NASA as well as from other businesses.
When the Open Badges Project was first announced, some educators questioned whether “badges” were a form of gamification of education, just another way, they said, to force learners to Continue reading