Mozilla Open Badges to Show Career Readiness

Higher Ed & Post Sec, Learning, Learning Innovations / by

“Overall, our approach is to use digital Open Badges to represent credentials or micro-credentials that are ideally assessment-based. In other words, these are credentials first. Open Badges is how they are displayed, stored, shared and combined across the web in an industry-standard way. We think of it as one way to “professionalize” badges in the workplace, building on the good work the Mozilla Foundation has done and continues to do.”  -Frank Catalano, Chief Marketing Officer of Professional Examination Service.

On line testing is quickly becoming the norm…whether you’re a 4th grader taking your state reading and math assessments in school or an adult driver trying avoid paying a speeding ticket by taking traffic school online from your home computer. Basically, if there is a test involved, an online version is already available or in the works. Even the makers of the ACT announced students will be taking the test on computers and iPads by 2015.

As test taking trends are moving digital, digital credentials are becoming an increasingly popular option for test takers, looking for not only validation, but certification. Professional Examination Service has issued a white paper, Digital “Badges” Emerge as Part of Credentialing Future, examining the history of how digital badges have been “used to represent accomplishments, skills or knowledge” and how that will evolve in the near future.

Digital badges are not a completely new concept. Many students from K-20 have already been earning image-based coded badges for learning motivation and to even display on their websites, digital learning portfolios, resumes, etc. Still, they are certainly not the norm for documenting student accomplishment. But when using web-based Open Badges from Mozilla- that can embed critical information in the badge itself- digital badges can represent credentials or more targeted micro-credentials and can take on a whole new level of meaning for representing the student’s abilities. Students earning these badges can now leverage the skills they learn online to meet industry-standard qualifications, benefitting employers, candidates and credential sponsors.

In the white paper,  Digital “Badges” Emerge as Part of Credentialing Future, Frank Catalano not only speaks to both the potential benefits of digital badges but also addresses the issues to consider as the use of badges starts to build. “As our learning landscape shifts from formal and linear to informal and on-demand, and as employers seek faster and more reliable ways to connect with the workers that will add the most value to their organizations, a secure, digital credentialing system is becoming more of a necessity, rather than a novel idea or convenience. “

Badges are definitely not a fleeting trend. Catalano found that Fortune 500 senior hiring managers thought that digital badge credentials could help them choose the applicants  most likely to have the specific skills needed for a position.

You can read more about the study, conducted by an independent research firm for Professional Examination Service, or ProExam – the first professional credentialing services organization to announce plans to design and issue Mozilla-compliant digital badges.

To support moving to Open Badges, ProExam offers ProExam Vault, its secure, web-based platform for issuing, sharing and storing digital credentials and micro-credentials. Vault has the core features of “backpacks” specified by the Open Badge standard. It allows credential issuers to control requirements for earning a credential, including its description and graphic image and earners can store and decide how and where to share them (including on social networking, employment and other websites and services). Lastly, employers can immediately verify a credential by clicking to display a secure validation page with earner and issuer specific details.

ProExam is also working with Education Development Center (EDC), a global non-profit working in 30 countries to conduct over 250 projects, focusing on challenges in education, health and economic development. ProExam is proud to assist EDC on their project, Work Ready Now!, a work readiness framework, curriculum and implementation toolkit first created in 2008 and now in use by youth programs in nine countries. The program has trained approximately 50,000 youth to date. ProExam will develop a valid, reliable assessment system for Work Ready Now! to include internet-based testing and be able to issue digital micro-credentials, displayed as industry-standard open badges, to youth who demonstrate they have achieved the program’s learning objectives. The assessment will first be delivered in Rwanda, Guyana and Macedonia.

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson is a contributing author for Getting Smart. Follow her on twitter at @tedrosececi