Category Archives: Open Badges

Open Badges in Higher Education

Open Badges in HE

An unfortunate clash in my calendar meant I wasn’t able to attend this wonderful event today, but it hasn’t stopped me joining in and being a Twitter-pest with my comments.

You’ll be needing Doug Belshaw’s excellent slide deck for this:

Open Badges in Higher Education from Doug Belshaw

I know some are against badges, I know some are in favour. I prefer to think of them as the extra-curricular ‘award’ for students to be able to showcase more than just subject knowledge they’ve been able to regurgitate in an exam (something I was always really bad at).

I don’t believe there is merit in a two to three hour stressful exam scenario. Some students do well here, others do not. I would liked to have had the opportunity to produce more appropriate projects, like I do for work, where I had a role to play, sometimes many roles, in order to organise myself and others, collect and collate resources and knowledge, prioritise these resources and manage outcomes. Not to mention the presentation of the project, either digitally or in-person, and the ability to discuss the project and how I/we worked to get this end result. Here I see where badges can showcase individual achievement, aligned to the formal assessment criteria maybe, but giving the ability to showcase my skills, not just knowledge.

Also present and presenting is Anne Hole from University of Sussex, highlighting more experiences in implementing open badges for both CPD (100 Days of Twitter and TEL). I especially like the badges offered to staff for their engagement in the ‘Take 5’ short courses.

Exploring Open Badges in HE from Anne Hole

Also shared during the day was this excellent post from Carla Casilli: Open Badge Opticks : The prismatic value of badges. Go read it.

Many of the tweets I engaged with during the event centred around the same questions we’ve been asking/answering for a few years now:

  • Where is the value in open badges?
  • Who gets to decide the value of the badge, and who gets to issue them?
  • How many badges are too many (either in badges issued or badges collected)?
  • Do employers recognise/value badges?
  • Can/should formal assessment be badged?

and many more. Many questions (still), many different answers (still), all depending on the perspective you’re coming from, and why. I’ll leave you with this great graphic from Doug’s slidedeck – open badges give the recipient (note: not just students!) the opportunity to demonstrate and display proof of the acquisition :

We really do need a new name for 'soft skills' - these are what *really* matter in the workplace! #OpenBadgesHE

image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Can MOOCs and Open Badges provide an alternative to the so-called ‘inflation of educational credentials’?

Reading: Open Badge’s and MOOCs #openbadges

Badges continue to interest me, and the development of open badges in online courses and commercial/corporate settings seems to be gaining momentum?

However, the bottom line is that conditions have changed (i.e. progressive mobility worldwide, as well as the increasing need for recognition of migrants’ qualifications). While some authors warn about the risky “inflation of educational credentials” others go even further claiming that “The university has already lost any claim to monopoly over the provision of higher education” (Duke, 1999). The initiatives described here are still in an embryonic stage but at the same time are promising in terms of new possibilities for more flexible tools and, as @daveowhite suggests, they provide new currencies that can redesigning the economy of talent (find more in UNESCO UIL or the EU ESCO).

As I always say, badges will not be suitable for everyone, nor every situation or course, or learning journey(s). But they do have a place in demonstrating acquisition of skills, in a carefully implemented and designed environment, for a specific and define purpose. Whether the display of the badge itself is part of the reason we strive to earn it is part of the value associated with the badge and is something for others to argue (but I am keenly interested in the outcome and arguments).

Image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Open Badges - LinkedIn Profile

How to: Display Open Badges on your LinkedIn profile

Here’s a short ‘how to’ guide on displaying your Open Badges, or a Mozilla backpack, on your LinkedIn profile.

There’s the simple way, which is not very visual or appealing, which is to edit your profile and use one of the three links available under ‘contact info’, which will display on your public profile like this:

Open Badges - LinkedIn ProfileI don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really do it for me. You?

  • This post has been updated to show how to display badges from either a Mozilla backpack or the Cred.ly website.

Continue reading

Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials

Learning Providers (wk.4) #OpenBadgesMOOC

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsHere we are at week four and challenge four. At the moment of writing I’ve earned three out of four badges that have been issued, with my response for the third challenge updated to take into account the feedback and comments about the lack of details I made about the competency framework and individual student ‘persona’.

You can read all my posts from this MOOC on the OpenBadgesMOOC tag, when I’ve written them!

Week 4 – Learning Providers
I can see the benefit of looking at badges for the soon-to-leave-education school leavers, and those already in work either actively looking for a new role or to up-skill themselves. But please don’t ignore higher education and both staff and students in it. Undergraduate degrees (and postgraduate degrees too) have as much to do with life skills as the specific subject of the degree award, and badges are a new and clear way to showcase these skills if, as I’ve said before, the criteria is selected and applied carefully and considerately.  Continue reading

Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials

Employers (wk.3) #OpenBadgesMOOC

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsHere we are, week three and challenge three. You can read all my posts from this MOOC on the OpenBadgesMOOC tag (when I’ve written them)!

Week 3 – Employers
The natural ‘end point for badges in any education setting is for those who have earned the badge to show them off for personal gain. This personal gain obviously will point to their employment prospects, at some time or another, and therefore employers will need to know what they are looking at, and why.

During the online session there was mention that “employers are in the early phase of early adopter stage for badges” (@sharonlflynn) but I have not seen evidence of this, and what type of employer (large, small, graduate employer, etc.)? Certainly Open Badges can only gain mainstream adoption in learning environments (MOOCs, degrees, adult education, social learning, etc.) if the employers recognise and value the output and badge criteria.  Continue reading

Anatomy of an Open Badge

Fundamentals (wk.2) #OpenBadgesMOOC

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsHere we are, week two and challenge two. While we don’t have to keep to any timetable on the challenges, I decided I will – it’ll be a neater blogging experience this way.

MOOC: Badges – New currency for Professional credentials

You can read all my posts from this MOOC on the OpenBadgesMOOC tag, when I’ve written them!

Week 2 – Fundamentals
The context and concept for badges is being discussed and documented by those at Mozilla – Open Badges for Lifelong Learning – and those who, like me, see them as a tangible benefit for showing skills that are not assessed.

The paper by Antin and Churchill (2011) explores the gamification of social activity, through the rise and popularity of system like FourSquare, and more recently, although not covered in the paper, Get Glue (film & TV) and Lemon Tree (library game). This interaction with content and achievement has “popularized badges as a way of engaging and motivating users”, so why not as part of their learning? Why not indeed? Continue reading

Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials

Openness (wk.1) #OpenBadgesMOOC

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsWith the best will in the world I’ll be taking part in the Mozilla / BlackBoard MOOC called “New Currency for Professional Credentials”.

MOOC: Badges – New currency for Professional credentials

You can read all my posts from this MOOC on the OpenBadgesMOOC tag, when I’ve written them!

Why this MOOC?
Why is this MOOC interesting to me? I have posted about Open Badges a number of times, and how I feel the ability to demonstrate skills and knowledge obtained during a formal course of study (University) are not always easy to spot, and certainly not easy to show through the normal / formal certification received. If students can earn badges for skills, group work, ability, etc. rather than an overall ‘grade’ which is considers pass / fail then this is of use to prospective employers? Aren’t we always hearing how students are not being prepared for the modern workplace? With a Mozilla BackPack full of badges (here’s my Backpack: Mozilla Open Badges) the student able to show and demonstrate these skills will have an edge. Yes?

Now that the CourseSite has opened up the meatier sections we can see what the next six weeks is about. We’ll be looking at Openness, Badge Fundamentals, Employers and Learners, Providers, and Opportunities. There are a number of groups for us to join, no doubt to help us focus on the area(s) of most interest or importance to our own badge requirements (personal or professional). I joined the following groups:

  • Badges for Higher Education Instructor/Faculty Professional Development
  • Badges for MOOCs
  • Badges in Traditional Higher Ed Courses

Week 1 – “Openness” 
Week one is about ‘openness’ and the disparity between job descriptions and alignment of knowledge that formal courses have to the job specifications. This fresh approach (badges) could be viewed as a new ‘currency’ exchange “between job seekers, learning providers, and employers”. Continue reading

Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials

Blackboard, Student Achievements, and #OpenBadges

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsAs many of you will have heard, either from the tweets or Blackboard notices, there is building block for Blackboard that allows you to assign and issue badges of achievements to students which they can copy to their Mozilla Back Pack.

I think there still needs to be some proper consideration on what the badge is being issued for: the video below states the badges are issued based on “specific student performance metrics” (don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of badges and some gamification of learning, but it needs to be an appropriate badge for an appropriate activity) such as:

  • a section of a course … possibly using the ‘mark as reviewed’ status? This is not meaningful as the students can just mark everything as reviewed and get the badge (I’ve done it before).
  • complete assignments … why give a badge for this? if they complete the assignment they get a mark and progress to the next module (would a student want to show a badge for a B grade when their friends are showing A’s)?

I would argue that a badge issued to a student who shows a skill learned, not a score or grade given, is more meaningful: e.g. debating skill, team or group management, individual goal attainment, etc. The badges could be carefully aligned to skills and metrics that are as much about the learning and subject as about the professional nature of the course – something the student can use to demonstrate a skill and understanding, something that an employer or interviewer would want to see from an applicant? That would make it more valuable to the student, and increase the importance of the badge.

There are more to badges in learning than just being able to show that the student passed an assignment or activity. What do you think?

YouTube: Blackboard Learn – Achievements

Badges - New Currency for Professional Credentials

Another MOOC – this time #OpenBadges and Professional Credentials

Badges - New Currency for Professional CredentialsAs if my MOOC failure rate isn’t bad enough, I’ve signed up for another MOOC in the vain hope that I’ll complete it (only 1 completion out of 6 so far). This one is run through the Blackboard CourseSites environment and is run available for self-enrollment now for a September 2013 start.

The MOOC aims to expand flexible learning opportunities and authentic evidence-based assessment with the use of the Mozilla Open Badge system for “accreditation and employer recognition”. The participating organisations plan to use the MOOC to

“… convene and moderate an international discussion on the role of badges as a new currency of exchange for high value, post-secondary credentials for the new workforce … [and] will explore the ecosystem for a new credential economy based on badges and surface aspects of what would be required to adopt such an approach.”

YouTube: Badges for Lifelong Learning: An Open Conversation

Starting on September 9th this will run for 6 weeks, so hopefully I’ve done what I need to before I start on my Masters degree with Grainne Conole at the University of Leicester. I do however see one very large downside to this MOOC – there are regular synchronous online sessions planned each week and, being on the other side of the Atlantic, means they will running at an awkward time for those in the UK or Europe.

Show students’ skills along with degree #OpenBadges

YouTube: Digital Badges for Learning

This is the first instance I’ve heard of where a major University (Purdue U) is using Open Badges, and have called the system/process ‘Passport’:

“[Passport] is learning management, mixed with gaming, meets ePortfolio. Students earn badges by completing learning activities presented as a series of challenges. Passport guides students through each task by providing a framework to submit documents, share links, complete quizzes, or gather approvals. Instructors can follow each students’ progress and connect badges with course objectives. As badges are collected, they can be shared online as Mozilla Open Badge or through the mobile portfolio.”

This is what Open Badges can do when implemented across, and through, the whole Institution. They’re going to be far more important and recognised when used for course related activities (simulated business exercise, research, etc) as well as giving the students the ability to showcase their other activities (portfolio, careers, sport, societies, charity, etc?) and when applying for placements and graduate jobs.

Whether employers will embrace badges is another question, but anything that can make it easier for an employer see the best candidate from the noise of the good candidates should be a good thing, yes?