What are Open Badges?

Open Badges are seen as a potential new approach to granting learning credentials, organized from the perspective of documenting personal skills and achievement in the same way a Boy or Girl Scout might earn a merit badge. This approach is being used in settings like the Khan Academy, with promising results. People watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. Mozilla has launched its own badge system, enabling users to easily display their achievements on the web. Open badges can be used as a way to incorporate some of the advantages of game mechanics as participants work through various levels or stages to achieve credentials. While open badges are not by any means pervasive in education systems, they appeal to many educators because they are considered to be more authentic signs of knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition than standard tests, grades, or course credits.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • This topic has been a interest to me for some time because of the skills gaps that exist between traditional museum fields (curation, conservation, education, etc...) and the digital fields. Both sides know little of the other's domains, aside from ad-hoc, on-the-job skill building. Badge systems offer a way for professionals on both sides to engage in prof. development on a small scale, targeted at their needs/wants, and demonstrate familiarity and achievement, without resorting to the time and expense of college-level classwork. - ed.rodley ed.rodley Oct 15, 2012
  • I can envision professional development programs for school teachers on a larger scale combining MOOCs with Open Badges. The Open Badges would function as Continuing Professional Education credits. - alex alex Oct 15, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Add your perspective here...
  • Another perspective here.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • I confess I'm skeptical about the ultimate utility of Open Badges. While I see them as an interesting facet of informal learning/lifelong learning--as part of a comprehensive interpretation strategy for a special exhibition, in finite areas of museum work where tasks and outcomes are strictly defined--but the idea of using them for credentialing in a field (museum work) which has a lack of clearly defined standards for the big open class of individuals defined as "museum professionals" is frightening. While we have accreditation standards for museums, we don't have then for training museum professionals and I have yet to see a compelling case that this is going to have community wide impact, although I acknowledge that badges make people feel good about themselves and perhaps that's not a bad thing. The museum profession does not, like other professions have CEU requirements as other professions do (perhaps we should?)--I think it would be good to figure out what skills could be met by badging programs and then proceed. Clearly the jury is still out on this one for me but I'm willing to be convinced ;) - holly holly Oct 12, 2012
  • Another perspective here.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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