I have a naive, yet sceptical view of badges as either:
- A simple reward system, akin to smiley face stickers in a classroom or gold stars adorned by McDonald’s workers.
- A collection game, like football trading cards or Pogs (remember Pogs?)
What I wanted was to dig deeper to see if the reality lives up to the hype or not. Open badges is an initiative supported by Mozilla to develop a mechanism to reward achievement:
“A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned. Open Badges take that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations. And because the system is based on an open standard, you can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of your achievements — both online and off. Display your badges wherever you want them on the web, and share them for employment, education or lifelong learning.”
I was even able to earn two badges by completing some very simple learning via the Open Badges site:
After my initial flurry of excitement I quickly fell back to my default position of ‘slightly sceptical’. I am a big fan of reward based systems and I could even see myself collecting these badges like the most diligent of girl guides. However, for badges to become an accepted mechanism for reward and recognition there needs to be significant buy-in from a number of mainstream organisations. At the moment it seems that badges are at a crossroads: either they will become huge and taken-up by the majority, or they will go they way of Pogs and disappear.