Below is an excerpt from a blog post Mozilla’s Executive Director Mark Surman published today reflecting on the first day of the Summit to Reconnect Learning happening this week in Silicon Valley:
Today, thanks to the web, anyone with an internet connection has access to an unprecedented wealth of information. Free resources, tutorials and classes are providing opportunities to millions of learners around the globe. Entire online communities have sprung up, dedicated to helping individuals teach and learn.
Now we’re faced with an intriguing question: How do we recognize and award this new way of learning?
That’s what Mozilla set out to answer when we started work with the MacArthur Foundation and the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) in 2011. Looking to build a standardized way we could recognize the education that happens everywhere, together we developed the Open Badges infrastructure — a badge interchange standard and a collection of open source software for issuing and sharing badges — to create one holistic view of an individual’s learning, skills and experience.
Ultimately, a badge is just one credential, one assertion of what we know. But, added together from different contexts across society, they tell a story about us that’s backed by a lot of people, and says, “this is what I can do.”
Mark shared today’s stage with Director of Learning and Badges Erin Knight, Tim Riches of Digital Me, MacArthur Foundation’s Connie Yowell, and representatives from the Chicago Mayor’s Office and Digital Youth Network. With each speaker, the Summit attendees were tweeting pictures, quotes and questions, all buzzing about badges and the potential to connect all forms of learning to recognize what today’s learners are capable of:
Today’s speakers looked at Mozilla’s role of shepherding the Open Badge Infrastructure into life, and how badges are being adopted across the pond. Erin introduced the room to the successes of our 'small' pilot of a summer learning initiative, the Chicago Summer of Learning, and was met with excitement about the expanding Cities of Learning program that stretches Chicago’s learning to the whole year and includes other cities across the US.
This evening, Erin shared another exciting announcement with the assembled group. In order to further support the development of the broader badge ecosystem, Erin will be transitioning into a new role, working with the MacArthur Foundation and others to establish the Badge Alliance, a distributed body to oversee and guide the continued momentum of the open badge movement.
The Alliance will operate independently of Mozilla, and will bring together thought leaders, designers, technologists and researchers to commit to collaboratively supporting open badges on an ecosystem level.
As the Alliance continues to grow the open badge movement, we will see it become stronger as more organizations, employers and institutions of education participate and pledge their support. Through citywide learning programs, higher education admissions, and workforce development and training, badges will continue to fill the gaps in our current silo-ed systems, gaining value as support grows.
Stay tuned for more news and updates from this gathering of badge advocates, leaders, evangelists and explorers here at the Summit to Reconnect Learning - and join the ongoing conversations: