I’ve mentioned Open Badges earlier this year. It’s an open standard proposal by the Mozilla Foundation that attempts to create a web-based way for anyone (or any institution) to give accreditation to anyone on any topic. Things have progressed nicely in these few months. Here’s what you can already do with Open Badges, explained as a series of screen shots.
OK, so what’s this all about? Well, in this case the issuer of the badges, P2PU, has seen that I’ve accomplished some tasks that they consider useful. They’ve awarded badges for me. I can take those badges and transfer them to Mozilla’s Backpack service. In the future I will be able to store my badges anywhere I want, even as individual image files. I could add them to my own blog, or any other location online that seems suitable. Others can click on the badges to see who awarded the badge to me, and where the publicly visible evidence is that I indeed did receive this badge. While faking certificates is in theory always possible, this makes copying of badge images not very useful, since to properly have a badge from P2PU or any other organization, that issuer will have a public record of who has received this badge.
So the interesting question of course (still) is: As formal educations institutions have already lost their monopoly on knowledge (eg. Wikipedia) and on teaching (eg. P2PU), the only thing they have left is accreditation, or certifying that people have accomplished some learning goals. Does this Mozilla project take away this monopoly from them? It certainly seems possible. What then? Certainly universities can still award their diplomas, but so can anyone else. It’s just a matter of what is credible and suitable for each situation. But I could imagine awarding badges to teachers that have been in my copyright workshops, for example.