At its most basic level Open Badges are a way to recognise learning. Open Badges is both an idea and a technical framework by which organisations and communities can build recognition systems for learning.
To the learner this means that it is possible to participate in learning environments and gain recognition for that process on a much more granular level than traditional education provides. Badges also exist in recognition that learning happens everywhere - not just in established educational institutions. So with this kind of framework it is possible to participate in a 2 week online course with Peer to Peer University (P2PU), for example, and earn a Badge for that course.
The badge itself is both something you can display on a website and something that others can use to verify your learning accomplishment.
The badge you display is an image file you can use on your website or on other websites such as the profile pages of social networks you belong to. For completing a course or a learning stage you are awarded a badge in the form of an image file.
To verify this learning the technical design of Open Badges means that there is a verification system employers or other interested parties can use to check your badges to ensure they were infact awarded to you.
For organisations that issue badges the badges enable recognition systems that can help build community and value the work done by individuals in an organisation or community. If your organisation or community is valued then it is expected that the value of the badges will also be transmitted which can lead to possible employment and other opportunities for badge earners.
It is early days for Open Badges but the idea has a lot of energy. It is primarily the push from Mozilla which is giving it this momentum but Siyavula and P2PU are some of the high profile early adopters that are pushing Open Badges forward and gaining a lot of support for it.
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