Mozilla Tackles Online Education with Badges, Open Badges

Badges attesting to learning or skills will be issued by any institution

Mozilla has announced the Open Badge Infrastructure project which aims to make it easy to collect and share badges which attest to a person's abilities in a certain field.

While badges are more commonly associated with games and similar things, in this case, they'll provide a visual cue to someone's accreditation, skills and learning.

"Today we announced Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure project, an effort to make it easy to issue and share digital learning badges across the web," Mozilla said.

"More and more people are looking at badges to show skills and achievements online. Mozilla is currently developing its own badges for things like Javascript courses at the School of Webcraft," it said.

"We’ve also talked to groups as diverse as 4H, NASA, PBS, Intel and the US Department of Education, all of whom plan to develop digital badges," it added.

The project is in the early stages, but Mozilla has already laid out plans for the infrastructure that will make this most decentralized system possible. In fact, the first Open Badges beta has now been released.

The code, which is open source, provides a badge format spec, the APIs needed for issuing and verifying badges as well as an initial version of a "badge backpack" software, the repository which will keep track of the badges a user earns.

"Open Badges is a response to this trend: an open specification and APIs that provide any organization the basic building blocks they need to offer badges in a standard, interoperable manner," Mozilla said.

Key to the program is the fact that anyone can participate, it's an open standard meaning that any institution can issue badges and that anyone can offer to manage them.

Mozilla has received a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to develop the Open Badges Infrastructure. The foundation is also funding a $2 million competition centered around badges for learning.

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