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Show Me Your Badge - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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Colleges and universities have a great deal of built-in credibility and are regulated by accrediting organizations. Heavyweight badge creators like the Smithsonian and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will bring their own credibility to the table. Everyone else (Mozilla contest winners include 4H, local youth mentoring groups, and the Minnesota Historical Society) will rely on one of the principal design features of digital badges: metadata, or information about information.

Just as photographs taken by GPS-enabled smartphones have latitude and longitude coordinates embedded within them, digital badges contain information about where they came from. The metadata within Carnegie Mellon's "Cortex Principles of Advanced Programming, Level 2" badge, for example, provides the date the badge was issued, the name, title and organizational affiliation of the teacher who verified the badge, the score the student received on the final exam, and a link to exam questions.

Anyone can click on Tomasz Nurkiewicz's Stack Overflow badge to examine the answers he wrote to earn it. With metadata, badges are instantly accessible portals to evidence of a person's accomplishments, like internship experiences and portfolios of work. Imagine organizing your credentials into "groups" representing a larger body of skill, much as a sequence of college courses adds up to a major. Except these come from many different sources, not just from formal institutions. (Mozilla has created a site where badges earned in different places can be organized and stored.) In this way, badges may be not just an alternative to traditional résumés and transcripts but an improvement on them.

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