February 19th, 2012
badge movement – badges are digital applications that are essentially social
eportfolios for peer-certified evidence of achievement outside of an academic
setting (as one way to see badges) – is about to get a huge boost from the
MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC ("haystack”), and Mozilla. Awards totaling 2
million US dollars will be distributed to the most promising badge technology
add a whole new technology sector supporting evidence-based learning.
Badges take the concept of life-long learning seriously and offer an enabling
technology quite different from current eportfolio technologies, and radically
different from our current focus on changing institutions. Those involved
in badges envision ways to certify learning outside of
better understand the badge gestalt, here are Cathy Davidson’s own words:
we can see, are not about creating a learning space so much as a
social-certification of learning space. Badges demonstrate
achievement. They are not, as eportfolios are, a way to transform
educational institutions, but instead are a way to bypass institutions.
At least that is the current framing of the discussion around badges.
Could badges serve as a new functionality within eportfolio systems? I
see no reason why not (as a first reaction).
is the official press release from the MacArthur Foundation:
this release, you learn what Mozilla’s part in this initiative is:
help advance and encourage this new use of technology, Mozilla is creating an
Open Badge Infrastructureundefineda decentralized online platform that will
house digital badges and can be used across operating platforms and by any
organization or user. This approach will help to make digital badges a
coherent, portable and meaningful way to demonstrate capabilities. It will also
encourage the creation of "digital backpacks" of badges that people
will carry to showcase the skills, knowledge and competencies they have
is clear that badges have achieved a status, wide recognition, and substantial
support sufficient to require the attention of AAEEBL. We are working to
create an official position paper that will be released for public
consumption. Toward that end, we will hold an informal discussion of
badges at next week’s AAEEBL conference in Salt Lake City hosted by Westminster
College – see
AAEEBL is not only about eportfolios but about evidence-based learning, and
since badges are a way to provide evidence of learning, there is no inherent
conflict between eportfolios and badges, nor between organizations supporting
badges and those supporting eportfolios.
collaboration between the two movements will probably be most productive if we
initiate a conversation and intentionally find ways to work toward common
goals. To this end, I’ve contacted HASTAC and MacArthur to set up a time
send me your own thoughts regarding badges – firstname.lastname@example.org.
is an important conversation and I expect it will be an ongoing one.