Mozilla has been playing around with the idea of Open Badges since 2010. If you're not familiar with the concept, think of it like game achievements applied to what you see, learn and do on the Web. Mozilla has partnered with some major players over the past year and has been testing the concept with them. Now it's time for Open Badges to take on its next big challenge - a public beta.
Matt Thompson, communications director for Mozilla, announced on the Mozilla blog that the Open Badges Infrastructure has entered into public beta. Badge issuers and developers now have access to the software that will allow them to build badges. The point is that people will build badges to recognize achievements made "online or out of school" according to the Open Badges Web site.
The Open Badges program has already been around in some form for the past year with major players like NASA, Disney-Pixar and 4H developing for the program. To make the deal even sweeter, you can also link up Open Badges with Mozilla Persona that adds a "reputation layer" to your online ID.
The new features coming with the Open Badges public beta today are as follows:
New tools for badge issuers. A new and improved badge issuer API makes it easier for any organization to award their own digital badges for learning, skills or achievements.
New ways for users to manage their badges. Improvements to Mozilla’s “Badge Backpack” make it easier for users to store, manage, import and group badges earned from multiple sites through a single location.
New tools for badge displayers. A new displayer API will make it easier to display digital badges across the web, from personal web sites to social networking platforms.
Erin Knight, Mozilla's Senior Director of Learning, provided some more clarification on the launch of the beta. She says that Mozilla is going to start speeding up the new releases for Open Badges to every two weeks. The hope is that they can get from beta to version 1.0 by the end of the year.
If you want to start working with Open Badges right now, check out the developer documentation and source code. You can also learn more about Open Badges and maybe even earn your first badge.
I'll be the first to say that Open Badges is a really unique concept that gamifies how we display our real world accomplishments. By turning our accomplishments and skills into a digital achievement, more people might be pushed to achieve something greater. We already have people spending ungodly amounts of time to earn achievements in video games so the same should be true for a person spending a lot of time to learn astrophysics.