What’s your elevator pitch for badges?

A lot of the early conversation from the Open Badges launch is rich with ideas we can use to strengthen the story and messaging going forward.

Doug Belshaw, for example, makes a great point about trying to clarify a fuzzy part of the story on OpenBadges.org:

We’ve got the learner stories, all the stuff on the Mozilla wiki and some great blog posts and articles.

Are we missing a coherent ‘elevator pitch’ here that catches (some of) the nuance between credentialising achievement and ‘assessment’?

Sounds like a good idea. The Open Badges concept is meant to be bottom-up, peer-to-peer, and aimed at making assessment and recognition a lot more transparent, social and participatory. But that may not be coming across clearly enough on the front page. <Doug & others: care to help fix that?>

How can we improve our messaging around badges and the competition?

In general, it’s a good opportunity to look for gaps in the general story and message. How can we digest some of the first round of conversation, and use it to clarify the story? What else is missing? What gaps can we fill over the next several weeks?

The current Open Badges pitch:

Here’s the high-level Open Badges story as it stands now (from the OpenBadges.org front page):

What is Mozilla’s Open Badges project?

Learning today happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. But it’s often difficult to get recognition for skills and achievements that happen outside of school. Mozilla’s Open Badges project is working to solve that problem, making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web — through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all. The result: helping learners everywhere display 21st century skills, unlock career and educational opportunities, and level up in their life and work.

Stuff we should consider adding to the next version:

  • The peer-based / social / bottom-up element. The stuff Doug mentions.
  • The $2 million “Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition” — and the fact that you can participate in it. As an educator, designer, developer, or organization. This is of course featured prominently in the page — but would be good to explicitly include in the project description right now.
  • The “who.” Who is this for? Who is the primary audience / users / customer for Open Badges software — online courses? Schools? (The short answer is “anybody,” since it’s 100% free, open source, and available to anyone to pick up and start using. But saying “anybody and everybody” isn’t that helpful to readers.)

What else?

How could we make the Open Badges and competition story story and front pages clearer?  Please share ideas as comments on this  thread. We’ll also be chatting about this in each Monday’s Mozilla Drumbeat call – which of course are open to all. So let’s talk.

7 thoughts on “What’s your elevator pitch for badges?

  1. Thanks, Doug. I hope we get to meet some day. This to me is key: “The Open Badges concept is meant to be bottom-up, peer-to-peer, and aimed at making assessment and recognition a lot more transparent, social and participatory.”

    Here’s another key: When a network or organization decides that current systems of recognizing contribution are not fulfilling the needs of the people who make up that network or organization, a badge system is open, unfixed, flexible, and modifiable and can be peer-constructed as an exercise to engage all an institution’s members in thinking about what it wants to credit and why. It’s a fantastic exercise, in other words, in institutional self-reflection, self-evaluation.

    My big “Now You See It” lesson is that, until we go through this preliminary step of thinking deeply together about who and what we are, who we want to be, what matters to us, why, and why it is important to know who contributes to our network and how, then we cannot even think about moving forward in open, innovative new directions.

    The problem with an inherited system–whatever that system is: it comes with parameters already defined. To me, the most important thing about this badge experiment is it is an opportunity for a community to explore and understand what its own parameters are.

    Not exactly an elevator speech . . . but crucial!

  2. For those who are new to the concept, we need more conversation about what a digital badge is; how a digital backback would work; and the value and mechanics of the open badge infrastructure.

  3. Thanks Cathy. This is fascinating. It implies that learning *how* to evaluate — and how to do that in a social context, whether it’s a community, organization, classroom or workplace — is a critical 21st century skill in its own right. I like that.

  4. @ Steve: More explanation and examples of “what a digital badge is” would be helpful, you’re right. And maybe seeing it in the context of being posted to someone’s Facebook page, online resume, etc. — to make it more real and tangible.

    Will also work on some detail and screen grabs around the backpack as well.

  5. @Mitchell: that’s a crucial point that probably isn’t clear enough in the elevator pitch. Going to suggest addressing that by changing the wording to something like:

    … it’s often difficult to get recognition for skills and achievements that happen outside of school. Mozilla’s Open Badges project is working to solve that problem, ***by providing software that makes it easy for other organizations*** to issue, earn and display badges across the web — through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all…..

  6. Wow. So cool. I would love to create openbadges to host for my students – so they can brag about the work they do. For example, I’m interested in gamifying some of my class projects – rewarding students ‘non grade’ elements. As an example, in my classes I give high fives at the end of the semester to students who have stellar attendance. I’d like to take that idea and make it virtual – so they can show off to other students at our university. But alas I have no programming experience and looking over the Mozilla FAQ it seems I would need to be able to create and host the badges I want to issue.

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