Badges are popping up all over the place, often as a by-product of gamification.
Khan Academy, Coursera, Code School. You name it, they’ve badged it. However, not all badges are created equal. For badges to retain value, they must be verifiable and portable. Unfortunately that’s not the case with many of the mainstream websites issuing badges. It’s pretty easy to fake them, or claim others badges as your own.
We’re starting to see some portability (see: LinkedIn and Coursera for example) but it’s also tricky to know what a learner had to do to earn them, beyond completing ‘some course’. Fortunately, these issues have already been addressed by the Open Badge specification.
Open Badges specify that badges be open, portable and evidence-based. By ‘looking inside’ an Open Badge, we get to see a range of data that tells us who issued the badge, why they issued it and to whom. All of this meta-data is stored alongside the actual badge graphic.
The Anatomy of an Open Badge (from http://classhack.com/post/45364649211/open-badge-anatomy-updated CC BY-SA 2.0; used with permission).