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The Open Badges Resume: The Most Prestigious Badges You Can Earn

Sure, you can get badges for everything from helping a little old lady cross the street to winning seven sidebets in 17 days on the game Blackjack Carnival. But your mileage with employers from most of these distinctions will range from “Oh, that’s nice” to “You say you spent your unemployment playing online blackjack?” Even though badges are still in their infancy, a class of them have emerged or are in development that will serve as bona fides for valuable skills and expertise and make employers and admissions counselors sit up and notice.

  1. “Legendary” badge from Stack Overflow:

    Anything that is difficult to attain and achieved by only a handful has the built-in prestige that comes with being rare. Such is the case with this badge offered by programming forum Stack Overflow. Despite a member community of 1.4 million users, only 102 have risen to the level of being certified legendary programmers. They earned the badge by posting answers to questions from their colleagues. As The New York Times reported, some have put in hundreds of hours responding to queries, while others have had “numerous” job offers on the strength of a single expert reply.

  2. Intel STS 2013 badges:

    In their own words, the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) is “the most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors” in the country. Already in its 16th year partnering with the Society for Science & the Public (SSP), the two are incorporating badges into the 2013 contest. While any kids who enter will earn at least an Entrant badge, the coveted badges will be the Semifinalist and Finalist badges. But students who don’t make it that far in the competition will still be able to compete for the Student Initiative and Scientific Research Report badges with high marks in one of those specific categories.

  3. Fundamentals of Nanoelectronics:

    As a highly esteemed research university, any accolade Purdue bestows on a student is going to conjure respect from employers and other colleges. Throw a challenging course like nanoelectronics into the mix, and you’ve got a prestigious badge ready to add to your collection. This class hosted by Purdue’s online learning portal nanoHUB-U will actually be split into two parts, “Basic Concepts” and “Quantum Models.” The classes will provide the first uses of two new apps Purdue folks have developed in-house. Called Passport and Passport Profile, the apps serve as an all-in-one platform for creating, building, and displaying badges.

  4. BadgesforVets:

    Despite only token mentions during the presidential race and public opinion that is more against than for America’s current foreign entanglements, probably no occupation commands more respect than military service. And now a new platform has launched to provide veterans with a free way to display the skills they sharpened in battle to employers. Not just every student can boast experience with electronic warfare, psychological operations, or war-zone translation. There will be more than 1,000 badges for vets to display their abilities in business-applicable fields like engineering, transportation, and logistics.

  5. Mozilla Webmaker badges:

    Hands down, the most recognizable name behind the badges-filled future of education is Mozilla. The company’s site is set up to serve as a portal for issuers and earners of badges, but it’s also begun to release medals of its own. As of November 2012 there are 22 badges programmers and web designers can claim, from the rookie-level “Clean Coder” up to “Div Master” and “MozFest Fellow.” As more badges are added and as they begin to catch on with more hiring companies, Mozilla will be considered a trusted brand that people look for in an applicant’s portfolio.

  6. 4-H/USDA Robotics badges:

    Few youth development organizations have roots that run as deep in America as 4-H. It’s been around for over a century and countless kids have used the engineering, agriculture, technology, and other skills they acquired through the program. Now the group has partnered with the USDA, with support from Auburn University, to offer digital badges for knowledge gained from working with robotics. The plans include rewarding expertise in robot sensors, systems engineering, robot mobility, computer programming, and more. Obviously any college with a robotics program would have to think twice before rejecting a kid with a portfolio full of these trophies.

  7. Planet Stewards badges from the NOAA:

    Another major government agency will soon be teaming up with the private sector to offer students interested in ecology a chance to earn some digital badges under the auspices of a prominent name in science. Planet Stewards will be a learning game that recognizes academic achievement in the subjects of weather, marine biology, cartography, and more, as well as civic engagement. The badges will be integrated with Mozilla’s Open Badges initiative so that students (and lifelong learners) can display them proudly.

  8. CS2N badges from Carnegie Mellon University:

    CS2N (short for Computer Science Student Network) is Carnegie Mellon’s online hub of activities for getting kids interested in computer science and STEM. Soon they’ll be taking their message to adults and lifelong learners with a system of badges that reward mastery of topics in software engineering, programming, and robots (apparently a popular subject for badge programs), and it will even feature “certificates of pedagogical proficiency” for teachers to claim. Not only will CMU’s name be attached, but also such majors as LEGO, DARPA, the University of Pittsburgh, and National Instruments.

  9. NASA Curiosity Explorer badge:

    This one would probably benefit students more than adults looking for a resume boost, but no one could argue that there’s any more prestigious name than NASA in the STEM world. The venerable government organization recently joined the badge movement in the hopes of encouraging lifelong learning, and this one involving the Curiosity Rover is one of the first to be released. By visiting three or more “NASA recommended” venues, students can unlock the badge and use it to show colleges their level of interest in science and technology. NASA says future badges will deal with robotics and teamwork.

  10. MIT badges through OpenStudy:

    MIT basically launched the open courseware movement singlehandedly, so it’s no surprise to see them carrying the torch for badges, as well. Through a partnership with OpenStudy — a social site for getting help with schoolwork — students can earn a nod from the elite university by giving enough helpful answers to questions their peers ask about courses MIT has made available online. It’s a great way for a student to prove his or her prowess after taking an OCW course.

January 17th, 2013 written by Staff Writers

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