Educational organizations across the Web are adopting badges to certify abilities and skills that employers might look for, like mentorship or digital video editing. This is not limited to online-only educational institutions, such as the Khan Academy. On the traditional side, for example, MIT is creating MITx, a self-service learning system in which students can take tests and earn certificates online after watching free lecture materials from the university’s OpenCourseWare project. MIT also has established an arrangement with OpenStudy to give online badges to students who give consistently useful answers in discussion forums set up around the university’s free course materials.
The biggest push for badges is coming from industry and education reformers. Mozilla, the group that develops Firefox, is designing a framework to let anyone with a webpage—colleges, companies, or even individuals—issue education badges designed to prevent forgeries. Hundreds of educational institutions, traditional and nontraditional, seeking financial support to experiment with the badge program have flocked to a $2-million grant program run in coordination with the MacArthur Foundation.