Tag Archives: software

Considering the Badges 101 Webinar

Last thursday, HASTAC hosted a webinar about the DML competition: Badges for Lifelong Learning. Erin Knight led a discussion about the foundational ideas underpinning digital badges and Mozilla’s efforts to develop the Open Badge Infrastructure. Sheryl Grant considered the meaning and potential for digital badges, and Cathy Davidson historicized our current academic system while addressing some of the opportunities for badges and badge systems.

We had an excellent turnout that produced many wonderful questions. Some of those questions we were able to respond to on air and the remainder we gathered together in a working document—a document that the team is working to consider and answer. You’ll find some of those answers on the HASTAC site. Erin pulled a few of those questions and responded to them on her blog.

Not surprisingly, there are a number of fairly philosophical questions about digital badges, some of them bordering on existential. Some of those question were tactical, but all were earnest. The audience expressed excitement, yearning, concern, and impatience. We take this all as encouragement.

We’d like to note that as we develop the Open Badge Infrastructure, the badge recipient is foremost in our minds. Paraphrasing Erin, users will control the privacy settings for badges pushed into the Open Badge Infrastructure. They will have to accept each badge into their Badge Backpack and all badges will be private by default, meaning they are only accessible to the user. However the user can decide to share badges with specific displayers (i.e. a social network or job site) through the Backpack and/or set badges to public making them discoverable through the OBI. As the badge ecosystem grows, recipients will have increasing opportunities to display their badges in new venues.

The Open Badge Infrastructure is one attempt to address learning, skills and competencies that are currently either unrepresented or underrepresented in traditional, formal personal representation on resumes and CVs. Soft skills such as community-mindedness, peer interaction, and mentoring present great assessment opportunities that may result in some of the most important badges to arise from the ecosystem. But as it’s early on in this brand new system, we’ll have to see where value arises. It may surprise us all. And while the academic community has responded mightily to the idea of open badges, the target audience is much broader and consists of organizations, institutions, individuals, groups, etc.—ideally anyone who would like to offer and support representations of learning, achievements, skills, and competencies.

During the session, Cathy Davidson noted that the Badges for Lifelong Learning DML Competition “is an experiment.” As this experiment continues, we welcome your thoughtful comments.

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If you missed the “Badges 101” webinar, you can watch the recorded presentation here. And we’re offering another webinar Tuesday, 10/11 at 3:00pm ET: “Process and Application.”  https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/953425726 If you have any questions about the DML competition application process, we encourage you to attend.

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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.