Mozilla Open Badges
The Mozilla Foundation first announced its Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) project in September 2011; in April 2012 the OBI became a public beta; and in March 2013 Open Badges 1.0 was launched. By providing a standard and open way for creating, issuing, awarding, verifying and re-presenting credentials, Mozilla aims to support the development of open badge systems within an open accreditation ecosystem. Positioned as capturing individual learning paths and signalling achievement by representing more granular and diverse sets of skills (The Mozilla Foundation et al 2012), Open Badges are often referred to as “micro-credentials” (Elkordy 2011).
A good starting point to understand Mozilla's Open Badges is the The ELI "7 things ..." paper. Don't worry, it's very short and concise, but provides an excellent summary of digital and open badges. If you want to dig deeper the "Open Badges for Lifelong Learning", authored by the main players in the development of Open Badges, provides a useful insight into their thinking.
It is important to remember that Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) says nothing about what a badge represents. Friesen and Wihak (2012) describe Mozilla's framework as modelling a "subset of functions provided by a registrar's office at any postsecondary institution"; it "forms a highly efficient conduit for controlling, transmitting and receiving credentials", however it does not make clear "what significance the credentials travelling on this efficient and user-friendly infrastructure will have" (p 51).
For this reason designing an effective badge system is essential. The badge system identifies the wider assessment and accreditation framework in which a system of badges are earned and awarded. For a badge system to really succeed “quality and vetted assessment will be critical” (The Mozilla Foundation et al 2012, p 8). It is no coincidence that along with the philanthropic funding of the original OBI project, a Digital Media and Learning competition (DML 4), “Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition”, was also run to fund the development of large scale badge systems. These projects are clearly intended to become exemplars for badge system design.
In addition Mozilla have developed BadgeKit; a suite of open source tools to support the technical development of badge systems. The elements of BadgeKit support the organisational and learner aspects of badge systems. This enables organisations to: visually design badges; define metadata; define assessment rubrics; and issue badges once necessary criteria are met. Further, it enables learners to: collect and manage badges; share badges across the web; and discover new badges.
You might want to explore some of the links mentioned here, or the further readings and resources mentioned on the right of this page. The following diagram may also be useful in gaining a better understanding of the Mozilla OBI.
The key reading for this section is:
Questions for reflection