A digital badge is an online representation of a skill or knowledge an individual has earned. Digital badges have the capacity to transform the way students share their academic and professional accomplishments.
IDB digital credentials serve to acknowledge, recognize and showcase the achievement of the key competencies in various area of social and economic development.
The Open Badges Infrastucture is an online standard to recognize and verify learning. It was incubated by Mozilla, the global non-profit best known for the Firefox web browser, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation. It is now stewarded by IMS Global Learning Consortium. Open Badges are information-rich, containing built-in data that links back to the issuer, criteria and verifying evidence.
Traditional certificates can be issued for anything. A four year-old may earn a certificate for colouring in a picture while waiting for a meal at a restaurant chain. Equally, someone may spend years researching and working at a very high level in order to earn a Ph.D. - which also comes with a certificate. Whether it’s displayed temporarily on the refrigerator or permanently in an expensive frame, what certificates have in common is that they have an audience.
Just like certificates, Open Badges can be used to credential different levels of knowledge, skills, and behaviours. Just as we’d issue a certificate in both a low-stakes situation and a high-stakes situation (but recognise that there’s a difference between the two) so we can issue badges in both situations. One advantage of using an Open Badge instead of or as well as a certificate is that badges have a built-in ‘breadcrumb trail’ of evidence. The audience can then immediately follow this trail if they have doubts about authenticity or rigour. This isn’t always immediately obvious or available with traditional paper certificates.
The Open Badges Infrastructure is a decentralised, federated system. This can be a difficult concept to get your head around when you first start thinking about Open Badges.
Perhaps the easiest analogy is to think of the way that email works. When you send an email, it doesn’t matter what your email address is, who your provider is, and where in the world you are; it just works. Your message is bounced around various servers and, because they’re all using the same protocol, your message eventually reaches your intended recipient.
Similarly, with Open Badges, it doesn’t matter who issued the badge. You can choose where you want to store it, so long as the provider adheres to the specification originally laid out by Mozilla, and now maintained/developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
There are several roles that IDB can play within the digital credentials ecosystem. The most obvious of these is as a badge issuer. IDB may also act an endorser of badges. Alternatively, IDB may act as an enabler to allow digital credentials to flourish within the LAC region.
Issuer - IDB staff create the graphics, metadata, and quality assurance process required to issue digital credentials via IDB's chosen badge platform.
Endorser - IDB endorses either specific badges issued to individuals (the 'badge assertion'), or an entire type of badge (the 'badge class'). This involves reviewing and approving the quality assurance process of badge issuers.
Enabler - IDB works with organisations to define digital credentials through collaborative, participator sessions.. This may consist of individual badges or badge pathways.
An example of the types of collaborative session that would place IDB in an enabling role can be found in the outputs from the IDB Credentials Workshop Outputs
Since 2011, there have been thousands of projects that have either been focused on, or have included, Open Badges. Some of these projects have been documented better than others. Until recently, there was no single place to collate these examples.
Badge Wiki, which hosts the IDB Digital Credentials Hub, provides a space to allow the community to share projects which will expand over time.
Badge News is a monthly newsletter for the Open Badges and digital credentials community. Hitting inboxes on the last Friday of each month, Badge News provides information about recent developments and upcoming events.
The Open Badges Google Group was set up by the Mozilla Foundation and is now maintained by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. Anyone is welcome to join and post to the group, and the archives provide a useful store of answered questions.
Twitter is also a useful place to get follow some of the latest news, with the hashtags #openbadges], #digitalbadges, and #microcredentials being useful starting places.