OpenBadges

H817 Survivors with Style   We had a great group on  “Openness and Innovation in e-learning” and the bonus badge above was a genius idea birthed by David in a midnight Facebook support group.     Although H817 is a passed, I find myself still  intrigued by OpenBadges –  my reading has left me persuaded that OpenBadges will continue to gain both traction and meaning.  What I am less sure about is what is their place in UK HE. I’m diving into #OpenBadgesMOOC to have a chance to think about it some more.

Before I get in too far here are a few things that are rattling around my head at the moment:

  • The HEAR is relatively new – an institutionally produced record of modules, grades, assessments, plus non-credit involvements  that the institution can validate. As I understand it non-credit involvements could include things like widening participation activities, being a course rep etc.  You could argue that this record is part of the missing set of micro-credentials – so is there any sense in a direct mapping of badges to events already in the HEAR?  Perhaps so if pick-n-mix curation of these entries is valuable in the future.
  • Similarly, I am skeptical about too many badges being generated by Blackboard events like doing or passing a test – surely this would be replicating HEAR entries, but at an even finer granularity?
  • Mozilla’s position paper for OpenBadges uses the term “Conversation starters” and it is this aspect of OpenBadges that I find most intriguing.  One of the things resonating from from Alt-C this week is that many students working on university engagement projects need a bit of help identifying the skills they have displayed and developed in those settings.  Maybe this is an area where badges representing skills and professional qualities would be pertinent?  In my mind there’s a crossover with eportfolio use, especially where the eportfolio is being used to record and evidence graduate skills.  Could the action of issuing badges create student-student and student-tutor  conversations around skills, and in so doing help students better articulate these to future employers?
  • Badges have the potential of pointing to evidence rather than claims.  But to do this evidenceURLs need some permanence.  For badges to have some currency post graduation we can’t link these to ePortfolios that no longer exist or to the walled VLE.
  • Can we plumb into externally badged standards (eg Mozilla’s Web Literacy) to provide recognition for some of the foundational digital literacy skills, or should we create our own?  Is the “fun” profile of OpenBadges a better match for digital literacy skills that are often informally learned?
  • Are badges appropriate in Staff Development?  (Maybe the “challenge” approach of P2PU would work really nicely with some edtech eg: set up a PeerMark assignment in Blackboard en route to “VLE Master” badge)

So lots of possibilities and questions and I’m looking forward to exploring this a bit more. As a backdrop to the start of the MOOC it was helpful to listen to colleagues from Sheffield talking positively about badge pilots in HE  (Open Badges in Higher Education – Perception and Potential).  From that session I am still chuckling about the Borders College Students issuing badges to their lecturers. Much to learn….

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