Using open badges as indicator of achievements in our staff and student informal provision

We are in the process of redesigning our staff and student workshops and online support and development provision. This is being rolled out under our digital literacy programme.

We have been discussing how to provide some indicator that the individual has achieved the skills and competences covered in the workshop, masterclass or online course. Not only is this an important motivator as it lets the individual communicate their successes, but it will also enable us offer wider acknowledge through external accreditation, and advertise our accredited courses.

These ideas have led me to explore the use of openBadges, which the learner can store in their Mozilla Backpacks. The provision of a badge for each workshop or online course will provide a mechanism where we can the learner with some formal recognition of their newly earned competences and skills. For more information around why badges, see http://openbadges.org/. An important determinant for me is we can provide evidence of accomplishment which is more secure than a simple image or electronic certificate, while recognising the informal learning route of CPD. The learner will be able to collect these badges, store and manage them, and display them either directly or through their e-Portfolio. A very obvious use would be within employability, staff appraisals, and career development.

Through adopting the Mozilla open standards, we will be able to future proof the evidence, and through the embedded metadata within the badge provide information about us (the issuer), how the badge was earned, and links to the intended learning objectives through the scheme of work.

So, how are we going to implement this? At the same time as widening the discussion within UCS, a number of different teams are starting to develop schemes of work for the workshops (face to face and online) which we will form the backbone of the digital literacies programme. Given this is a cross team approach we are standardising the schemes of work to enable easy linking from the badge to what the learner did in the workshop, and we are allocating different weighting to the workshop or online course (2 credits) and masterclass (1 credit). These weightings are likely to influence type and number of badges we produce. I would like to keep these to a minimum.

At the same time we are looking at badge design, creation and distribution.

An obvious route for the distribution is to use the Blackboard VLE (both our hosted version) and the coursesites version. These will allow the learner to be ticked off (manual or automated via achieving certain tasks) as accomplishing the skills and competency and will release the badge. The learner can add this badge to their Mozilla Backpack. To add further value to the learning process we are exploring how to display the badge (individual or collections) in our e-Portfolio system (mahara). I have sketched out a simple overview at the bottom.

Given the model we will need to provide support for the learner around Mozilla Backpacks.

After workshop design meeting we should be in a better place to create a workflow and badge as a proof of concept.

So, very exciting days, and lots of opportunities for scaling in terms of other staff and student informal learning, and managing the provision of external cpd.

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One comment

  1. David Hopkins (@hopkinsdavid)

    Excellent news Andy, and this reflects the thoughts and ideas I’ve been discussing here at Leicester, as well as on the recent ‘Badges for Professional Credentials’ MOOC. It would be good to catch-up at some stage and talk over your progress?

    All the best, David

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