FacultyEnlight

Teaching Trend: HOW MOZILLA’S NEW ‘BADGES’ SOFTWARE COULD BENEFIT EVERYONE

Who says higher ed learning can’t be fun? One of the newest tech projects to make waves, Mozilla’s Open Badges, will bring you back to those gold-star-sticker days—but with a mission.

Mozilla’s free new open-source project is called Open Badges, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, its purpose is to help people issue, earn, and display learning and skills badges across the web. For the higher ed professor, this could be a positive game-changer. With grade inflation, test curves, and the “everyone deserves an A for effort” mentality changing the meaning of grades, badges could be a new measurement of learning and success. Whether posted on social and job networking sites like LinkedIn or tumblr, printed on resumes and job applications, or mentioned on a portfolio, badges could soon be popping up soon all over the place.

Professors at Indiana University at Bloomington and Purdue University have already started using badges in the classroom, handing them out to students who have mastered certain skills or sections within a course. Before entering college, high schoolers can present their badges in lieu of certain courses, or as a supplement to their transcripts, thereby proving their mastery. For job seekers about to end their college journeys and make their way into the work world, students having certain badges denoting expertise in necessary on-the-job  skills could mean the difference between getting that interview and getting rejected. MOOCs could benefit too, as could course host schools: For online course attendees, having a badge showing successful completion could be beneficial to both the attendee and the host school.

The badges just might be here to stay, too. Open Badges has received positive word of mouth from U.S. Secretaries, NASA administrators, and, of course, project financial backer the MacArthur Foundation. Plenty of research has gone into these badges, so don’t assume anyone can get them from anywhere; the badges are full of metadata, giving anyone who looks a taste of when, where, and how  the badge was received, along with test scores, questions, and information on the badge issuer.

Badges may be based on the days of fun and chores in kindergarten, but with modern-day uses and technology to back it up, users of Mozilla Badges may start to see 21st century uses that could change how we view MOOCs, graduates, and applicants alike.