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Blackboard Validates Mozilla Digital Badges

Mozilla's Open Badges initiative has received the official nod from educational technology company Blackboard, which has integrated digital badges into its learning management systems Blackboard Learn and CourseSites. The Achievements tool, as Blackboard calls the new functionality, allows educators and students to issue and receive virtual badges that represent an achievement. At the same time, both organizations have announced its participation in a massive open online course (MOOC) on the topic of digital badges.

Non-profit Mozilla's Open Badges infrastructure has several components:

  • A coding standard that makes badges interoperable;
  • A framework for building badge repositories;
  • A "backpack" that serves as a user repository for storing earned badges; and
  • A set of application programming interfaces for creating badges that are portable and verifiable.

The Blackboard integration will allow instructors to issue badges and digital certificates for course completion, milestones, and custom performance metrics, according to an explanatory video. The faculty member can tie badge issuance to specific student performance metrics, such as completion of a set number of assignments in the course and a final grade of a certain percent.

Students are notified within the course site and in MyBlackboard when they've earned a badge or certificate. From within the course, they can also see what they've already earned and view the progress they've made toward an unearned achievement. The achievements can be published to the Mozilla backpack. The interoperable nature of Mozilla's badge standards also allows students to add badges to social networking profiles, Web sites, and online job applications.

"There is huge interest in finding new ways to measure and certify learning and mastery of concepts," said Jessica Finnefrock, senior vice president of Learn products at Blackboard. "We want to give educators and students high quality options to experiment with badging and credentialing, and by working with Mozilla we're doing it in a way that helps them measure competency and share achievements not just in their online courses but across the Web."

Starting Sept. 9, 2013, representatives from Mozilla, Blackboard, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) and education service provider Sage Road Solutions will participate in a six-week MOOC titled, "Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials." The course will explore the use of badges as evidence to show learning inside and outside the classroom to give a "more complete picture of knowledge, skills, and abilities."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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