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Mozilla launches Open Badges 1.0, delivers virtual kudos for real skills

Mozilla launches Open Badges 1.0, delivers virtual kudos for real skills
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|March 14, 2013 2:30 PM

We've long missed the stickers and badges we could wear to show achievements in our childhood, whether it was an A+ in History or our campfire-making chops. Mozilla must miss those too, as it's launching Open Badges 1.0, a spec for proving skills on the web. The approach provides verifiable credentials that are stowed away in a virtual Mozilla backpack and shareable through a number of online avenues, starting with WordPress blogs and Twitter updates. You won't necessarily need to be a web scripting wizard to earn badges, either -- they're available or coming from 600-plus companies and educational institutions that include Disney-Pixar, NASA and the Smithsonian. We're a long way from only having to flash our Open Badges to land a job, but those symbols may be enough to let teachers and coworkers know we're up to snuff for key tasks.

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More Than 600 Organizations Already Issuing Badges That Count Toward Education, Careers and Lifelong Learning.

Chicago, IL --- Today Mozilla released Open Badges 1.0---a new way to recognize and verify learning. Developed through a two-year partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this free, open source software will allow users and institutions to digitally recognize and verify learning that happens anywhere, and use it to get a job, further education, or add to a growing skillset.

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

"We often talk a about finding ways to make learning more accessible to more people," said Erin Knight, Mozilla's Senior Director of Learning and Badges. "Open Badges has the power to make that happen. We can legitimatize learning of all kinds, and empower people to create their own custom pathways toward jobs, education and opportunity."

A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you've earned. Open Badges takes that concept one step further, by creating an online ecosystem where users can verfiy, display, and combine badges. Specifically, Open Badges:

Knits skills together. Through the Open Badges shared standard, badges for the same skillset can connect and build on one another---whether they're issued by the same organization or many different ones.

Is full of information. With Open Badges, every badge has important data built in that links back to who issued it, how it was earned, and even the projects a user completed to earn it. Employers and others can dig into this rich data and see the full story of each user's skills and achievements.

Can go anywhere on the Web. The Open Badges backpack gives users an easy way to collect their badges, sort them by category, and display them across social networking profiles, job sites, websites and more.

Recognizes learning that matters. The Open Badges free software allows any organization that meets the standard to begin issuing---and verifying---badges. Currently 600 organizations have issued 62,000 badges to 23,000 learners. A growing list of who is issuing badges is available here: http://www.openbadges.org/community/

Is free, open to anyone, and part of Mozilla's non-profit mission. Open Badges is designed, built and backed by a broad community of contributors. The open source model means improvements made by one partner can benefit everyone, from bug fixes to new features.

"We've talked to many employers, and they all say the same thing." said Knight. "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."

For more information about Open Badges, to see a growing list of who is already issuing badges, or to earn or create your own Open Badge, go to http://www.openbadges.org.

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Mozilla launches Open Badges 1.0, delivers virtual kudos for real skills