My colleague and friend Gideon Burton (of silva rhetoricae fame among other things) and I have been discussing badges lately. To date the open education movement has focused almost exclusively on the production and sharing of content. Significant opportunities exist to reform or reinvent other, non-content portions of the education ecosystem with the support of open content.
For younger students, this could mean that they earn badges for mastering concepts in school, learning multiplication, for instance, or being able to identify the parts of speech. For older students and adults, the badges might recognize life experience, or skills learned on the job, as well as academic accomplishments. In addition to sharing accomplishments, the badges may represent a better gauge of users’ skills, potentially leading to real-world academic and employment opportunities.