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Mozilla Releases Open Badges Software to Help Users Show off Skills

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March 15, 2013

Diplomas and certificates can show that you have completed a degree or mastered a certain skill, but they do not tell the whole story. Learning can happen just about anywhere, so it is not always easy to display the skills that you have acquired through non-traditional means. Mozilla is trying to change this with its recently released free software, Open Badges 1.0.

As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Open Badges is similar to Boy Scout badges -- individuals can earn digital badges to denote that they have learned specific skills such as experience with HTML or social media. Such skills are not always obvious with a degree. For example, a Mozilla blog post pointed out that someone who holds a degree in engineering may also have stellar writing skills or someone with an arts degree could be a rock star project manager. The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that a degree or diploma may not be granular enough to show such valuable experience or these skills may have been picked up after graduation, perhaps on the job or through a massive open online course.

"Today, we learn things in a wide variety of ways, but there are fewer opportunities to gain formal recognition," explained Mozilla executive director Mark Surman in a press release posted on Engadget. "Open Badges lets you take all those skills and show them off in one place, regardless of where you've earned them."

According to the blog post, each earned badge contains information on how it was earned, who issued it and the projects completed to earn the badge. Users can store their digital badges in a "backpack" and display them on websites, job sites and social networking profiles for potential employers to review. According to the press release, 600 organizations currently participate in Open Badges and have issued badges to some 23,000 learners. Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and NASA are just some examples of the organizations that offer badges through the software, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Open Badges has been in the making for two years in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, according to the blog post, and Mozilla is confident that the software will be beneficial to not only its community of users but employers as well.

"We've talked to many employers, and they all say the same thing," said Erin Knight, senior director of learning and badges at Mozilla, in the press release. "Undergraduate degrees are a check box, but tell you very little about the skills that a particular person possesses; resumes are difficult to verify; and it is almost impossible to get an understanding of a candidate's social or 'softer' skills. Open Badges changes that, and gives us a way to tell a more complete story about who a candidate is, and what they bring to the table."


Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin

Sources:

"Introducing Open Badges 1.0," blog.mozilla.org, March 14, 2013

"Mozilla launches Open Badges 1.0, delivers virtual kudos for real skills," engadget.com, March 14, 2013

"Mozilla Releases Long-Discussed Software to Offer 'Badges' for Learning," chronicle.com, March 14, 2013, Jake New

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