The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC, and Mozilla are offering $2 million through their Digital Media and Learning Competition for organizations, learning and assessment specialists, designers, and technologists interested in creating and testing badges and badge systems.
"Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate—as well as document and display—their skills," said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We can build new avenues for entrepreneurship and collaboration, and spark economic development at home and around the world."
Calling badges a "game-changing strategy," Duncan announced that the Department of Education is joining the Department of Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative (VAi2) in making a commitment to award a $25,000 prize for the best badge concept and prototype that serves veterans seeking good-paying jobs in today's economy. The VA will join Mozilla, the MacArthur Foundation, and the departments of Education and Labor, he said, to support and sponsor this part of the Digital Media and Lifelong Learning Competition. It will be called "Badges for Heroes Challenge."
"Digital technologies are helping to re-imagine learning, and badges are emerging as a new way to both encourage and demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge and skills of all kinds—in formal and informal settings," said Julia Stasch, vice president of US Programs at the MacArthur Foundation.
Supported by a MacArthur grant to the University of California at Irvine and administered by HASTAC, the competition will fund designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers and others who develop badges and badging systems. The competition is part of MacArthur's digital media and learning initiative that is designed to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life.
To help advance and encourage this new use of technology, Mozilla is creating an Open Badge Infrastructure—a decentralized online platform that will house digital badges and can be used across operating platforms and by any organization or user. This approach will help to make digital badges a coherent, portable and meaningful way to demonstrate capabilities. It will also encourage the creation of "digital backpacks" of badges that people will carry to showcase the skills, knowledge and competencies they have gained.