“In what follows, the magical or tribal or collectivist society will also be called the closed society, and the society in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions, the open society.”
-Karl Poper, The Open Society and its Enemies.

Open Badges have demonstrated their impact on the life of individuals and on the way institutions and businesses operate. Is the impact always beneficial? Is the introduction of Open Badges always leading to improvement, and if improvement there is, who does it benefit to? How can we insure that Open Badges do really contribute to the rise of a more open and inclusive society?

To understand the full potential of Open Badges we need to take a look at them from a systemic point of view, understand how they relate to past, current and emerging initiatives, in particular the open initiatives. Eventually we need to recognise whether or not they contribute to creating a more open society, i.e. a society where every individual is fully acknowledged and empowered to co-design and co-construct the society rather than undergo the imperative of adaptation, conformance, when not subservience.

Why an Open Recognition Framework?

The objective of this document is to provide a conceptual framework for understanding what Open Badges are, where do they come from, what they could become in the future and how they relate to other concepts and initiatives. This framework does not pretend and does not intend to be neutral. It is designed within the perspective of building an open and inclusive society where the citizens are fully empowered to act and transform education and employment, rather than merely adapt to them. It is a framework for action, individual and collective.

The Open Badge conceptual framework is situated within a larger frame of reference that includes concepts, ideas and initiatives that, while not directly related to Open Badges, share a number of their characteristics (e.g. Open Data). It is also aimed at debunking some of the misconceptions associated with Open Badges, e.g. their relation to gamification or the behaviourist theories leading to using Open Badges as rewards.

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