Earning virtual badges has become quite popular with apps like Foursquare (https://foursquare.com/) and GetGlue (http://getglue.com/home). Now they seem to be making their way to the web with Mozilla (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges) and Google (http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/shareable-google-news-badges-for-your.html).
For quite some time I have been toying with the idea of using some kind of badge system for my staff at the help desk as a visual indicator of the applications they are proficient in using. Once Mozilla and Google really start getting them out there and allow end users to customize them that idea may come to fruition. This kind of a visual indicator will make it easy for students to quickly identify who can give them the help they need in Excel or PowerPoint.
Imagine what this could mean for education. People like to earn badges. It could be a tool to help motivate learners. In some cases it may foster competition that results in a positive outcome, learning. Kind of like that professor in Indiana that gives experience points instead of grades (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/99224-Professor-Abandons-Grades-for-Experience-Points).