Went to the EDUCAUSE technology conference two weeks ago and badges are certainly being touted in on-line education. There are still major issues of what individual badges might actually MEAN. There is a potential for the proliferation of badges to the point individual badges are virtually meaningless, with some badges indicating major accomplishments and others signifying only attendance at an event. There are currently issues about how/if one might combine badges earned at several different places without them all having to by connected to the same on-line "backpack" provider. If I can self-report my accomplishments, does that decrease the power of the credential they might represent?
Definitely worth keeping an eye on, though.
I think badges potentially have a significant role not just in online education, but credentialing in general. I think it won't be long before participation in HAPS conferences, workshops, and courses, serving on committees or as an officer, and so on, will earn badges that are accumulated in one's "backpack" and visible to anyone who the individual releases certain badges to. For A&P profs, it will make it easy to show others our professional development experiences to peers, admins, potential employers, etc. We can also see what kind of training or experiences our students bring with them. For example, Canvas allows one to display their badges-so a student could post their relevant badges and we could see whay experiences they bring with them. I'm working on getting badges awarded for competencies in my courses, as well as for successfully completing whole courses.