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Joan Albert Laso, Pedro Pernías Peco, Sergio Luján-Mora. Using Open Badges as certification in a MOOC. Abstract Book of the 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI 2013), p. 1485, Seville (Spain), November 18-20 2013. ISBN: 978-84-616-3849-9.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are online courses with the option of free and open registration that are usually followed by thousands of students from all over the world at the same time. MOOCs are usually created and offered by higher education institutions, such as universities. The structure and content of MOOCs usually mimics traditional online courses: a syllabus, a calendar, educational materials (mainly videos), some activities or projects, quizzes (usually multiple choice questions) to assess students’ learning, and a forum to discuss with instructors and other students. MOOCs are the natural evolution of OpenCourseWare (OCW), but in contrast with them, MOOCs offer the opportunity to interact with other students and instructors, and they typically provide a sort of certification at the completion of the course. Despite its novelty and the use of some new educational methods, MOOCs’ certifications do not show any kind of innovation. If MOOCs boast to be the biggest revolution in education for the last 500 years, they should incorporate new kinds of certification.
On the other hand, Mozilla Open Badges, also known as Open Badge Infrastructure or OBI, is a project sponsored by Mozilla and launched in September 2011. The objective of this project is to create a system to recognize and verify learning. OBI is not proprietary, it is based on open standards and it is completely free. OBI can be used as a method of recognising and rewarding skills and knowledge learned both in face-to-face or virtual classrooms in the Web. OBI helps to solve the problem of certification in the digital society, making it easy for any organization to issue and manage digital badges, and to any student to display them across the Web. Basically, a badge is an image in PNG format that contains metadata. This metadata links back to the issuer of the badge, to the criteria (the description of the badge and the requirements for earning the badge) and to the verifying evidence (the information about how the individual earner earned the badge). In OBI, the badges are collected into the user’s backpack, a repository hosted by Mozilla. By default, the badges are not public, but the user can use privacy controls to decide which badges wants to display and where. OBI relays on Mozilla Persona, an identification system for the Web. Mozilla Persona allows users to sign in to websites using an email address from a list of emails attached to the Persona user. In this way, a user only needs to remember one username and one password, but can use different emails (identities) in different websites.
In this paper, based on our experience in the creation of some MOOCs, we show how OBI can be integrated with a MOOC to show progress and learning achievements. Firstly, we explain how to use OBI, both from the perspective of an issuer and an earner: we show some technical details about how badges can be implemented, and we present how badges can be displayed in different places, such as social networks or personal home pages. Then, we discuss some pedagogical aspects of the use of OBI as certification in a MOOC. Finally, we also offer some advices to avoid some pitfalls in the use of OBI.