Written by Guest Authors Rizwana Ahmed (15), Prashant Popat (17) and Abdibased Hussein (13)
WHAT ARE OPEN BADGES?
People may find it difficult to gain recognition for achievements which fall outside of formal qualifications. This is where Mozilla and other organisations come in; for example, Mozilla have been working on a brand new project called “Open badges” which helps resolve this problem. They have created an exceptional idea where you receive a badge in acknowledgment for your work and achievement in a certain area. This helps you gain all the recognition for your hard work and dedication. This also means that organisations and learning communities will be able to appreciate these achievements through the Mozilla Open Badges website, your Facebook page or even your CV. By earning these electronic badges you are able to represent the skills and attributes that you have acquired. It may result in opening new doors to career opportunities, help motivate other people and give you an advantage in your working life. The official Mozilla Open Badges website has more information on their electronic badging system.
Mozilla isn’t the only automated badging system. Khan Academy also uses badges to capture the achievements of their learners. They offer badges for things like investment in learning, a significant amount of learning, challenges which require hard and striking dedication and the most unique Khan Academy Award which is known to be “legendary and unknown” their Black Hole badge. They have an official website with more information at http://www.khanacademy.org/.
HOW CAN YOU ACHIEVE THESE BADGES?
Anybody can sign up to be an issuer or earner of Mozilla’s Open Badges. You can gain these badges from afterschool programmes, job training or even online learning! These badges will then be awarded to the learner. Mozilla provide a badge backpack, essentially a profile page where you can store the badges you have achieved.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF “OPEN BADGES”?
The main advantage is that this service is free of charge, so you don’t have to pay for the privilege of using their resources (i.e. the Badge Backpack). Also, for those with low domestic income, this levels the playing field making it easy for anyone to display their achievements.
Another advantage is that it can boost your career prospects as it can provide you proof of skills gained outside of formal qualifications, which may be relevant to a certain job. It may even enable you to stand out from competition when applying to university, etc.
Also, youngsters may see this as a game, which may motivate them to work harder in order to obtain as many badges as they can and although they might think of it just as “fun” it could help them in the future.
ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES?
There is no guarantee that organisations will accept these badges in the sense that they may believe that you may still not have the sufficient amount of knowledge as required.
Also, if the supply is so great for these badges, i.e. anybody can get them, how does that give them any value.
WHAT AND WHY ARE BADGES USED FOR?
Badges are used in some schools and a variety of different places. Supporter to Reporter (S2R) is a programme run by DigitalMe, an organisation who help young people to develop their skills and confidence through new technology. The S2R programme does this through sports reporting. Lots of young people have participated in the programme, reporting on 1000s of events; even the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.
DigitalMe have recently been awarded funding through the DML Open Badges competition which will allow them to integrate the Open Badges system into their S2R programme. ‘S2R Medals’ will recognise and reward achievements within the programme, which can be then be earned by young people taking part. There are currently three types of badge:
S2R Journalist – based on the skills developed in producing sports reports.
S2R Coach – based on peer-mentoring skills developed through supporting others.
S2R Producer – based on offline skills in reporting at real-world sports events.
There are three levels of badge available: Bronze, Silver and Gold. These are shown below (the image is taken from the S2R Medals website)