2. History

It all started with a badge

The term digital badge was first introduced by Mozilla Foundation in 2011 as part of their Badges for Lifelong learning competition (Gibson et al, 2015).  The open badges project with the MacArthur Foundation and started to “spark a transformation of how we recognize learning” (www.concentricsky.com). The mission of the Mozilla foundation is to “ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all” (www.mozilla.org) – so open is one of their core values.  

Mozilla were also the first to create a system of recording these digital representations of learning – the Mozilla backpack. This system integrated with many learning management systems and allowed people to reward badges to others based on non-learner recorded outcomes. Backpack was retired in August of 2019 and has now been moved to another open badge system called Badgr. All digital badges from Mozilla backpack have been transferred and retained. The open badge standard is now ensured by IMS Global, the organization that ensures SCORM standards. According to Mark Surmon (Mozilla) it was always the intention of Mozilla Open Badges to mature and make an impact for good (EcampusOntario, 2019).

This image from a recent presentation by Don Presant (an adaptation of an image by Doug Belshaw) shows the spectrum of credentials, micro-credentals and badges:

credential spectrum