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6 Answers
Hank Holiday
Definitely not and sort of.

First, David Wiley wrote an excellent blog post titled Badges are NOT Assessments, which provides great context for this question: http://opencontent.org/blog/arch...

Badges are not assessments; badges are credentials – badges are things we award to people who pass assessments.

I agree with his sentiments and so don't believe that Open Badges are the future of assessment per se.  I do, however, think that some form of learning badge will play a vital role in the future of learning measurement.  Here's why...

Three failures of existing measurement models (certifications, degrees, standardized tests, etc)

  • Too Chunky: Popular models tend to measure really large units of learning.  This yields heavily weighted, infrequent measurements that make it difficult to track progress within a course or across multiple courses.
  • Too Closely Linked with Content: Certificates and degrees tend to be tied to specific, predefined learning paths and often to individual institutions. That limits their wider relevance and utility.
  • One-Size-Fits-All:  Standard certification models seem to arise from a binary mentality, as if the goal is to describe exactly two groups of learners: those who have achieved the certificate and those who haven't.  That's an extremely low resolution philosophy of measurement (black & white) that does not align well with the reality of the learning process (shades of gray).

Three potential benefits of measurement models that are organized around badges

  • Highly Granular:  Badges can be small and focused, allowing each learner to follow his or her own learning path and produce smaller, more frequent measurements of progress.
  • Content-Independent:  Badges have the capability of representing a particular set of skills or concepts without dictating the precise path a learner must follow in order to earn the achievement.
  • Customizable:  Badges are compatible with models of learning measurement that put a menu of potential achievements in front of each learner, encouraging the pursuit of individual passions.  Used in this way, badges provide a far more accurate representation of learner individuality and integrate more effectively with modern learning patterns.

The catch

I underlined words in the above section to highlight that none of these benefits are necessarily "baked-in" to the idea of Open Badges.  Getting the benefits very much depends on how Open Badges are used.  It is fully possible to implement an Open Badge based measurement system that is mired in the same failures as traditional certification models.  In my brief experience with the community around the Open Badge project, though, it does seem that the values I outlined above are well understood and respected.  So I'm hopeful.

In conclusion: I think that there are two big questions that need to be considered when applying Open Badges in a way that achieves the benefits outlined above:
  1. What lives "underneath" the badge?  (What sort of assessment and engagement processes support learners as they go through the learning of a badge?)
  2. What lives "above" the badge?  (What levels of organization exist above a single badge?  How are individual badges pieced together into engaging learning paths?)
Inger Carin Grøndal
It could be. Institutional assessment has some problems, teaching for the test, instead of assessment for learning, how to do digital exams on a large scale, and the question of whether educational institutions should focous on education or accreditation. Badges open this debate somewhat, but is not a solution to these challenges, as I see it.

In addition, I also see it as an interesting approach to solving how to get credit for your informal skills and competencies aquired by attending MOOCs. Taken together, it would seem that formal education will be less important in the future.
As soon as the Mozilla Foundation launches its API (in a few weeks), the badges will no longer be the future but the present, at least in open online environments, which correspond to the field of non-formal education. Regarding formal education, is a matter of time that educational institutions begins to recognize the evaluation of competences acquired in open environments as part of its accreditation in the formal model for official certification. The only unresolved issue is the monetization of such accreditation by formal institutions, but that is something that is part of the new business models that these institutions should implement in the near future... in some way, it is the same already happening with the case of Open Educational Resources.
Thieme Hennis
the weight carried by formal educational certificates is in part because of the enormous structure behind it: the institution, the government, lots of people. If, for example, a small (but possibly very high-quality) online math community issues a badge, it might mean more in terms of quality than a regular math university diploma, but it does not carry as much weight, unless the community itself is given the credits it deserves. Hence, something like a meta-badge for issuers is needed, and I think the traditional educational institutes, corporations, government bodies, large online communities, etc. are able to fill that gap.
Right now I think that open badges can work in conjunction with current forms of educational assessment.  In my mind, they would work well to show significant progress/milestones/steps along the traditional "learning journey."

I think that it'll take a long time (if ever honestly) for open badges to hold the same weight as current forms of assessment.  I think Open Badges will need recognition of some of the more elite schools in order for them to be taken as seriously as traditional assessments.  Hopefully that won't take forever!
Hamish Brocklebank
Probably not as they are difficult to verify externally but there are some platforms such as Flooved which blend the "open badge" with professor's and institutions existing teaching models