We’re exploring a new way of tracking professional development and learning. The internet has quite profoundly changed the way we learn. Skills and questions are really one Google (or Bing, or Pinterest, or Instructable, or Tweet) search away. Learning happens. Constantly.

But how do you quantify and demonstrate that learning? If you say you know how create a retro loop player on your upright piano using a Raspberry Pi, how might you prove it? And can you incentivize the learning?

These are the questions Open Badges attempt to answer.

What’s an Open Badge?

Open_Badges_-_LogoAn Open Badge is a digital representation of a skill or achievement earned from a creditable organization. Earned badges can be displayed in professional portfolios, Linkedin profiles, and various social networks like Facebook and Google Plus.

Badges contain “meta” data. It’s not just a simple “picture” that you can throw on your website. Instead, it contains certain “proofs” to give the badge actual veracity. Think if it as roughly analogous to “certificates of completion”.

Here’s a basic example. Say Hamilton CSD creates a “Login to Google” badge. If someone has this badge, it means they are capable of logging into Google. The badge would contain the following information:

  1. Issuer (in this case, Hamilton CSD.
  2. Name of the badge
  3. Associated picture of the badge
  4. Description of the badge
  5. Criteria for earning the badge (ie login to Google)
  6. Evidence. Proof that you’ve done this badge. In this case, a system that recorded you demonstrating logging into Google.

Where’s the Value?

For our students, badges often serve as simple extrinsic rewards (Khan Academy uses them to incentivize learning). For adults, badges are a really solid way to demonstrate to employers (future or otherwise) skills they are learning and acquiring. A more real and relevant component to a resume or portfolio.

Using Badges at Hamilton

We’re piloting and exploring correlating badges to CEUs. When a badge is earned in PD, the badge may have an associated CEU. In this regard, it takes the place of a certificate of completion.


Credly and Tracking Badges

We track badges in our system. But we’re also using an external creditor called “Credly”. Credly is completely optional for folks to use. Think of Credly as a “backpack” that collects your badges. You transfer those badges anywhere (your Facebook profile, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), but they’re first stored at Credly.

If you’d like to use Credly, you will need to sign up for an account. It’s free. And again, completely voluntary.