Open Badges is a big idea that’s come a long way in a very short time. It was less than a year and a half ago that Mozilla and MacArthur Foundation launched the first version of an open source system for issuing and sharing badges as a way to recognize, standardize and reward both traditional and informal learning. Thanks to the hard work of the Open Badges team, Mozilla and the city of Chicago have just launched the largest citywide summer learning campaign in the nation: the City of Chicago Summer Of Learning.
Chicago is incorporating learning into summer youth programming through partnerships with youth-serving organizations, museums and cultural institutions, philanthropists, businesses and citizens by exploring the themes of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) learning. This represents the first-ever citywide implementation of a badge ecosystem.
Through more than 100 participating organizations, young people will earn badges such as Published Author, e=mc2, Epic Maker, Gearhead, Urban ecologist, Greengineering, Sound Sampler, Social Justice, DIY bling and Poetry Slam History. Earning certain badges unlocks the opportunity to participate in citywide challenges where students can use their new skills to build real-world artifacts. The summer will wrap up with a celebration and learners will be able to publicly display their badges as digital credentials that communicate the skills they have developed to teachers, parents and potential employers.
The Chicago Summer of Learning is just one part of a month of success for the Open Badges team. On June 13, former President Bill Clinton announced a groundbreaking new initiative, 2 Million Better Futures, dedicated to helping one million students and one million U.S. workers advance their academic progress or further their career goals through Open Badges. Six days later, Blackboard, a leading learning managment system, announced a partnership with OpenBadges, allowing students and faculty to promote their achievements within Blackboard Learn courses. All this follows open-source project Moodle, taking the honor of being the first Learning Management System to adopt Open Badges. And, on June 20, Mozilla’s very own Erin Knight, Senior Director of Learning & Badges, was invited to discuss OpenBadges in a live conversation about digital learning sponsored by the White House.
“It’s been a pivotal past few weeks for the Open Badges ecosystem. We are excited to see badges move even further beyond an idea, into something that’s very real for hundreds of thousands of learners and workers. With Chicago and emerging Clinton Global Initiative partnerships, we have exemplar badge systems emerging that will connect learners directly to jobs, school credit or other opportunities. It’s an exciting time for badges, it’s an exciting time for learners,” says Erin Knight, Senior Director of Learning and Badges at Mozilla.