Raising the standard: Open Badges 2.0

There are few things as eagerly awaited in life as a sequel. From The Dark Knight to Harry Potter, Toy Story and The Empire Strikes Back, regardless of your franchise of choice we are all captivated and excited by three words: To Be Continued…

For followers of Open Badge technology, the second installment of the Open Badges standard has held just as much anticipation as the aforementioned Hollywood blockbusters. So for those of us as yet unacquainted — what is the Open Badges standard and why is it so important?

The Open Badges Standard (the technology that empowers individuals to take their learning with them, wherever they go in order to build a rich picture of their lifelong learning journey) was launched by Mozilla as a standard back in 2013. Since then the movement has expanded across Europe and the world through Digitalme’s ‘Badge the UK’ and ‘Badge the World’ campaigns. We’ve seen the likes of IBM, Pearson, Microsoft and thousands of multi sector corporations adopt the standard over the years, truly taking open badges to an international level, under the guidance of IMS Global since late 2016.

Digitalme Executive Director Tim Riches is enthusiastic about the new development, especially as his company, part of the City & Guilds Group, are one of the first to be awarded the standard by IMS.

“Version 2.0 of the Open Badges standard takes us one step closer towards creating global skills currency. It ensures individuals have ownership and control of their learning data and builds increased trust by adding third party endorsement to learners achievements” says Riches, “We believe this is the way forwards for communicating skills in the digital age, and we are delighted that so many IMS Global members are planning to implement the standard.”

So what’s so special about Open Badges 2.0? As with Hollywood sequels, this second version of the standard has been written to develop the original theme and further showcase the capabilities of its predecessor in an unprecedented fashion. From Endorsements to Version Control, the new Open Badges 2.0 standard brings with it some new and improved enhancements that are well worth your attention.

The introduction of Endorsements means that badges issued to groups of people can now be endorsed by a third party. As further evidence to support an awarded achievement, the use of endorsements by respected and trusted 3rd party authorities will definitely add to the value of badges.

Powered by Markdown (a lightweight markup language), Embed Criteria and Embed Evidence will feature in Open Badges 2.0. This brings a new dimension to badging as the criteria used to award them and evidence of skill to earn them become more machine readable. In the past badge earners would need to provide additional context when sharing their achievement online by way of hyperlink URLs to external websites. The new standard will help badges become more discoverable and assist human resources and learning and development professionals in seeing every skill within their team.

The new standard will also feature Full Portability. Badge classes and issuer unique metadata can now be ingrained within badges. Fantastic news for badge earners who have been let down in the past by temporary or disappearing links connected to their badge. With the new changes, badge associated metadata moves with the badge.

As the impact of open badges has spread across the world so have the number of languages associated with the technology. Open Badges 2.0 will be issued in multiple languages — a true reflection of the global adoption of open badges as a skill visibility tool.

Another new feature for badge issuers is the introduction of version control. The new standard will allow for updates to be made to the badge framework and for these versions and the associated differences to be viewable.

As the news of the launch of Open Badges 2.0 rolls out so will the announcements of various badging platforms gaining compliance. To be Open Badges 2.0 certified by IMS as an Open Badges Issuer, Open Badges Displayer or Open Badges Host there are several tests to complete:

  • An Open Badge Issuer must be able to prove that they can issue a valid baked badge and demonstrate how the badge is retrieved by the recipient.
  • An Open Badge Displayer must be able to demonstrate that their platform can display a minimum set of badge metadata and support viewer-initiated verification of a badge.
  • An Open Badges Host will need to show that they are able to import all formats of Open Badges as well as prove that badge metadata is not lost upon export of the badge.

Stay up to date with Open Badges 2.0 news and announcements regarding the first wave of products to achieve the standard via the IMS Global Learning Consortium Summit on Digital Credentials.

Further reading: IMS Global

For more on Digitalme visit: Digitalme

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