Instructional Design

Open Badges Add R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to Gamification and eLearning

People vie for recognition because it leads to respect. Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) and badges both signal recognition, but CEUs confirm “butt in seat” time while Open Badges’ digital badges recognize and measure performance. CEUs say, “I showed up,” while Open Badges say, “I participated, learned and earned.” Which would you rather collect? Which is more impressive to the employer? See where this is going?

Open Badges 101

A joint venture between Mozilla Drumbeat and the MacArthur Foundation with support from a roster of corporate Who’s Whos, Open Badges secured its place as the de facto badge standard, and the train already barrels down the tracks.

Learners can earn badges through accredited educational facilities and informal environments. Each badge contains meta-data that ties it to the learner, so someone can’t lift another person’s badge and claim it as their own. Call it a “secure certificate of competency.” Employers may eventually require prospective employees to show their badges, and job seekers will want to demonstrate verifiable, portable skills to potential employers.

Digital backpacks hold an individual’s badges, and badge holders can group badges any way they like—by subject matter, competencies etc., depending on the context in which they want to let others see their badges.

The Gamification Connection

Life is a game, so it’s no surprise that schools, small businesses and enterprises use games to instill work skills, knowledge and soft skills. Once the learner masters the concept or skill, learning platforms compatible with Open Badges can issue a badge. Gamification at work is one of many methods used to engage eLearners, and the badge is the social carrot.

Cities of Learning Pioneer Open Badges

Education often launches workplace trends. The city of Chicago served as the prototype for the Cities of Learning movement, now six cities and growing. Each city offers free and low-cost learning opportunities to youth, based on their academic interests, hobbies and personal interests. Participating cities design their own programs, based on local needs. Participants learn, play (gamification) and earn badges to demonstrate their achievements, and Open Badges plays an integral role in the Cities of Learning brand.

Interns Take Note

The Open Badge Imitative could bridge the gap between internship and job. Imagine the young intern who displays the initiative to learn on his or her own and collect a backpack full of badges. The competitive edge is then his or hers to lose in the fight for jobs.