Mozilla gamifies the learning process

OpenBadges prove that you have reached certain educational and training milestones.

Playing a video game is fun. Winning a trophy is fun.

The makers of the major video game systems learned this lesson long ago. You can now earn "Trophies," "Badges" and "Achievements" in just about every video game on every console known to man.

Part of the fun of earning those rewards is to display them to the world – or, at least your close friends. Being able to taunt your, obviously inferior, friends with phrases like "Oh, you haven't beaten Bio-Terminator-Blast 5K on Mega-Crazy-Hard yet? Check this trophy out" is a truly enjoyable experience.

Well, now you can have that same fun...with learning.

The Mozilla foundation – whom many of you will remember as the people who make Netscape Navigator (or something like that) – has rolled out what they call OpenBadges.

The idea is pretty simple. If you consider yourself a teacher – which, in this case, is a pretty loosely used term – you can create a “Badge.” That badge will represent an accomplishment in something you teach. Something like "Learned how to create red text on an HTML page." You can then reward that badge to individuals who you feel have earned it.

Pretty straightforward, right? You can even include information on the badge about what criteria was used to determine that an individual actually deserves to have earned that badge (which makes the information a bit more valuable than simple, arbitrarily created awards).

The Mozilla Foundation also took it upon itself to create the "Mozilla Backpack." This is, for all intents and purposes, your trophy case. You can place all of your badges here and then point anyone you like to your backpack to see all of the cool things you know and have achieved.

They have even created a Wordpress plugin to make displaying these badges on your personal blog nice and easy. Pretty cool, really.

Of course, more people (both those offering and achieving badges) need to jump on board before this becomes truly useful. And integration with LinkedIn (and other similar sites) would help make this valuable for employers and job hunters.

But, just the same, it's quite a cool idea. And if anyone can make it ubiquitous... it's the Mozilla folks.

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