Moving forward: an open badge ecosystem

As the DML competition and badges conversation continues to move in many directions at once, at Mozilla Foundation we are starting to consider the future of the open badge ecosystem that the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) will help to originate. The good news? As a citizen of the open web, you are empowered to help define and build the digital badges that will populate it. You can help define what characterizes a badge; how, why, and where someone might obtain one; what it might look like; how long its lifespan might be; and perhaps most importantly, how it might live and interact in the larger sociocultural landscape.

Instead of badges arising from a traditional, top-down hierarchical, paternalistic system, think of them as a fluid opportunity. An opportunity to entirely rethink what it means to assess and recognize skills, competencies, learnings, experiences and achievements. In other words, think big, think extraordinary, think “why not?”.

To help frame all of this big, extraordinary, “why not?” thinking, here’s a bit about our role in this experiment. Think of Mozilla’s OBI as the plumbing: the thing that allows everything to work, the pipes that will help to irrigate and propagate the developing ecosystem. And it’s open source plumbing. If there are aspects that you’d like to mess around with, copy the code and fork it. That’s the beauty of open source code: it’s accessible and mutable.

Ultimately, Mozilla will make the system self-service, so that any organization, academic institution, group, or individual will be able to create a badge or badge system(s), as well as host it in their own backpack. This means that badges will always be portable, extensible, personal, and recipient-owned.

Already, interested folks are creating useful widgets that will help to extend the work that we’re doing. They include: Leslie Michael Orchard’s Django handicraft, Django-badger; Andrew Kuklewicz’s Ruby on Rails work; and Open Michigan’s (Kevin Coffman and Pieter Kleymeer) Drupal 6 effort. Eventually, you’ll be able to access these directly from the Open Badges github repository.

Mozilla is interested in keeping the commons of the web open, and that includes a badge and assessment system. If you’re curious about participating in the active tech conversation about OBI, join our badge-lab group. If you are interested in creating widgets for the OBI, review our code at GitHub and away you go. If you’re ready for a larger commitment to open source software and Open Badges in particular, consider joining our expanding team. Erin Knight, our stellar project lead, writes a terrific blog: World of E’s. There you’ll find detailed explanations of our work to date as well as our open positions. In brief they are: an Open Badges Developer; an Open Badges Partner Manager (Business and Design); an Open Badges Engineer (Tech and Support); and a Mozilla Badge and Assessment System Designer/Specialist.

We’re counting on you to be involved in the conversation and creation of the Open Badges ecosystem. So, open web citizen, get out there—there’s no time like the present to start changing the future.

Thanks.

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