I think most of us would agree that the badging work has come along way generally. And yet, in many cases, it’s a feeling or some anecdotes. It’s a hard thing to quantify.
I’ve also certainly experienced several palpable shifts in the conversation - from the “what if” conversations in the first year, to the “ok, we get it, what now”, to now a surge of “how”. But again that’s mostly subjective and based on each of our own experiences.
Some things are a bit more obvious. In 2010 and 2011, if you dropped in on a community call, you’d see the same 10-15 usual suspects, all digging in to important early issues like defining the standard. Now that call (still going 4 years later!) has featured hundreds of new voices, representing every imaginable type of organization, audience and perspective.
Another measure of growth is the number of organizations issuing badges and badges issued. I remember when we celebrated 100 issuers and 1000 badges in June 2011, and now we have close to 3000 issuers and over 250,000 badges in Mozilla Backpacks. But even that doesn’t truly represent the full ecosystem because we can only directly measure issuers using the Mozilla issuer API and the Mozilla Backpacks. All of the platform providers out there have their own numbers. The best we can estimate is that there are over 13,000 issuers and millions of badges. We expect to have over 4M earners by the end of 2014, and 10M by 2016. Those numbers require estimates and contributions from every issuer out there in the ecosystem, yet are undeniably a sign of progress.
Another number that I feel is important to consider is the average number of badges per earner. You could argue that one badge might be enough to get someone a job or reach their goals, but for me, the vision is that badges can be a comprehensive representation of you. That means you need badges to represent all the skills, interests, affiliations, experiences, etc. that truly represent who you are and what you can do.
Again, the only data we have to work with are the numbers from the Mozilla Backpacks. There are over 70K unique Backpacks, and a little under half of those (32K) have only 1 badge in them. The other 38K Backpacks on average, have 5.7 badges in them. That means over 50% are well on their way to building a solid collection, a comprehensive representation. That to me is an exciting sign.
Quantifying our success is hard, but we do have some proof of progress.
And I think we can do better. We owe it to ourselves, to the learners, to find ways to more accurately understand what’s working and what’s not. That will need to involve more formal and regular contributions from organizations across the network, but we’re doing pretty well finding ways to collaborate so far, and this feels like an important one to keep up our track record for. I think it will also involve ways to feed usage data back into the system - what badges were used for which jobs, etc. These are not easy problems to solve, but if we can get there, abstract/obtuse concepts like success, or even validation and accreditation, get a whole lot easier to see and understand.
I’d like to be in a place in a year from now when we’ve got quantifiable metrics of success as a network, and some easy way to reliably collect that data across the network, and regularly check in on those numbers. If you have ideas, or want to help, shoot me a note.