Promoters of the open badge system cite lower education costs and recognition of specific skills as benefits of this program. Badges can be given for learning a particular computer program, developing a website, or answering questions from users in an open learning environment, to name a few. Many supports of badges believe there are skills that employers are looking for that may not be evident on traditional diplomas. Badges aim to highlight with specificity the potential of new employees.
Statistics have shown that college graduates continually out-earn workers with only a high school diploma. In an article by the Brookings Institution, this fact holds true even in our current economic recession. The question remains, what weight will employers give these virtual badges, and will they come to pose a significant challenge to traditional diplomas? In December, Brookings further reported on the importance of education and training in growing industries. Perhaps badges can play a role by filling this need by specifically targeting skills that employers are seeking. The value and legitimacy of learning achieved through a badge system will come under heavy scrutiny, but it stands as an additional threat to traditional universities as educational costs rise and alternatives to education grow.