For the past few years, Mozilla has been working on a project called Open Badges. You can think of the project like merit badges for the Internet. It allows people to prove that they have accomplished something, or are knowledgeable in a topic, in a visual format. Now after a year of extensive beta testing, the finished product is finally ready.
Right from the start, Open Badges users will be able to prove their worth with badges from over 600 organizations. Mozilla itself offer a wide range of badges, including badges for Web development. Other organizations offering badges include the Girl Scouts and NASA.
For a more in-depth breakdown of what Open Badges offer, the Mozilla blog explains:
Knits skills together. Through the Open Badges shared standard, badges for the same skill-set can connect and build on one another — whether they’re issued by the same organization or many different ones. Individuals can earn badges that recognize learning and skills from multiple sources both online and offline — from learning HTML with Mozilla, to volunteering and leadership skills with Girl Scouts, to learning introductory robotics and engineering with NASA.
Full of information. With Open Badges, every badge has important data built in that links back to who issued it, how it was earned, and even the projects a user completed to earn it. Employers and others can dig into this rich data and see the full story of each user’s skills and achievements.
Can go anywhere on the web. The Open Badges backpack gives users an easy way to collect their badges, sort them by category, and display them across social networking profiles, job sites, websites and more.
Recognizes learning that matters. Open Badges’ free software allows any organization that meets the standard to begin issuing — and verifying — badges. Currently 600 organizations have issued 62,000 badges to 23,000 learners. A growing list of who is issuing badges is available here.
Free, open to anyone, and part of Mozilla’s non-profit mission. Open Badges is designed, built and backed by a broad community of contributors. The open source model means improvements made by one partner can benefit everyone, from bug fixes to new features.
If you want to start working with Open Badges, you should start with the developer community. After that, check out the source code and contribute to its development. Open Badges has an opportunity to change how we learn and earn accomplishments on the Web, but it won't be able to do anything if it doesn't have the support of the open source community.