I’ve had my eye on Open Badges for a while, but I took MozFest as the opportunity to uncover some practical uses for libraries in the community. Luckily, I chose the perfect example from a huge list of Open Badges workshops; completely by chance I selected to hear about a collaboration between a community foundation and the public library. Awesome!
What is an Open Badge? In simple terms an Open Badge is a digital badge that allows you to record and others to recognise your achievements and skills. Open Badges have been around since about 2010, which means millions have already been awarded around the world. But can we use them in our libraries and communities?
Here’s an example of what one city has done – Chicago City of Learning started in 2013 following a Summer initiative where more than 100 organisations worked together to create greater visibility in what they were doing independently. Young people earned digital badges recording and recognising their achievements in the community.
The legacy is a significant and growing network of opportunities for young people to learn online and through events and activities – gaining a portfolio of digital badges along the way.
Three creative suites are available for 13 to 23 year olds:
- Sound – music, singing, rapping and poetry
- Media – photography and blogging
- Fashion – design
Badges are awarded to recognise milestone or learning a new skill. Each participant builds a portfolio of badges; five skill badges can unlock a master badge, which includes a real world opportunity. These experiences act as incredible incentives and also give great confidence to the participants. Examples include design being produced and sold in a local shop.
The programme is very conscious of creating industry standard skills, accreditation is core and participants work closely with mentors from the business sector.
The badges are created using Badge Lab and are awarded via Chicago City Learning.
This was powerful stuff, and I don’t think I can do it justice here. I really do encourage you to find out more.