In 2011, The Mozilla Foundation announced their plan to develop an open technical standard called Open Badges to create and build a common system for the issuance, collection, and display of digital badges on multiple instructional sites. To launch the Open Badges project, Mozilla and MacArthur engaged with over 300 nonprofit organizations, government agencies and others about informal learning, breaking down education monopolies and fuelling individual motivation. Much of this work was guided by “Open Badges for Lifelong Learning,” an early working paper created by Mozilla and the MacArthur Foundation.
In 2012, Mozilla launched Open Badges 1.0 and partnered with the City of Chicago to launch The Chicago Summer of Learning (CSOL), a badges initiative to keep local youth ages four to 24 active and engaged during the summer. Institutions and organizations like Purdue University, MOUSE and the U.K.-based DigitalME adopted badges, and Mozilla saw international interest in badging programs from Australia and Italy to China and Scotland.
By 2013, over 1,450 organizations were issuing Open Badges and Mozilla's partnership with Chicago had grown into the Cities of Learning Initiative, an opportunity to apply CSOL’s success across the country.
In 2014, Mozilla launched the Badge Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals committed to building the open badging ecosystem and advancing the Open Badges specification. Founding members include Mozilla, the MacArthur Foundation, DigitalME, Sprout Fund, National Writing Project, Blackboard and others. More than 650 organizations from six continents signed up through the Badge Alliance to contribute to the Open Badges ecosystem.
In mid-2015, the Badge Alliance spun out and became a part of Collective Shift, a nonprofit devoted to redesigning social systems for a connected world. Later that year, IMS Global announced their commitment to Open Badges as an inter-operable standard for digital credentials.
In late 2015, the open source project, Badgr was launched by Concentric Sky with partner edX to serve as a reference implementation for Open Badges. The Badgr system is used by edX, Canvas, and others.
In late 2016, it was announced that the Open Badges standard would transition officially to IMS Global as of January 1, 2017.
On 31 december 2016 the Open Badge 2.0 specification was launced and is currently in a pre-implementation phase as issuer, verifier, and displayer support is gathered.