Universal Online Badges

Online badges will become a universal way to validate skills with online professional services. In previous blogs, I have discussed how I envisioned online badges should work and also referenced some articles already circulating in the media. However, to get a firsthand account, I read an excellent “white paper article” published by Mozilla about the movement of online badges – where the technology is now and where it is going in the near future. Mozilla (known for their popular browser Firefox) is leading the open source project to develop online badges.

To build their case, the authors provide four learning scenarios where online badges establish credibility for skills when traditional methods seem less effective.

  • Some learners do not perform well in a traditional learning environment (like a classroom), but can thrive in less formal learning environments (such as afterschool programs). Badges communicate to everyone skills a learner excels in, and identifies ways to advance their expertise with these skills. For example, a teenager earns Movie Maker and Good Teammate badges from his experiences building movies with a team outside of the classroom.
  • Some types of technologically driven skills, such as web development, can be effectively learned outside of the classroom. In the article, they provide an example of a web designer who started building websites at 13 and when she took a few college level classes, the course material was far beneath her skill level – paying and attending for classes seem like a waste. Badges can be issued from many sources and are not limited by traditional education channels (like colleges). Moreover, badges are easily presented on a professional website, social media profile, or personal blog to establish credibility. For example, the Webcraft community rates and reviews work submitted based on their rubrics and issues badges JavaScript Expert and HTML Pioneer.
  • Some skills are transferable across disciplines and subject; however it can be difficult for experienced professionals to keep up their technical skills with the pace of new technologies. Badges leverage transferable skills, which can be utilized across disciplines – so it is possible to find other careers that require the same transferable skills. For example, there is a badge for Public Speaking and Critical Thinker.
  • Some creative professions do not require a college degree, rather a connection with the community. Badges are portable and can be represented in any community you become established in. For example, the Philadelphia community issues Avant Garde and Cutting Edge badges.

These scenarios illustrate how the use of online badges is going to revolutionize how skills are validated and open up new learning channels by enabling educators to establish credibility. In the next blog, I will discuss the overarching themes with using these online badges.

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