This is the vision of a growing number of education reformers who feel that the standard certification system no longer works in today’s fast-changing job market. The Mozilla Foundation, the group that develops the popular Firefox Web browser, is designing a framework to let anyone with a Web page—colleges, companies, even individuals—issue forgery-proof digital badges that will give potential employers details about an applicant’s training at the click of a mouse. In September, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced a $2 million grant program, run in coordination with Mozilla, to encourage organizations to try the badge system. More than 300 groups have applied.
For those keeping track of all this, we started doing “skill badges” in 2009 and recently added about 50 badges in the last few months for educators, workshops, hackerspaces and more to award to their students/learners.
The physical ones are mostly for anyone to self-determine if they want them, schools are using these to award the kids when they’re done learning how to solder for example. As far as certifying these as something more than that, we wanted to go in another direction.
Our “digital” online version of the badges will be awarded by Limor “Ladyada” Fried herself and we’re basing that on specific criteria and it will be project based, not test taking We’re really excited to see all the “merit badge” efforts and we’re curious where it will go. We’ll have our beta for our online version up soon, we have some testers now and we’ll be able to share the live system very soon!