Open Badges – the missing link?

My keynote at the #RIDE2016 research conference – Research and Innovation in Distance Education and E-Learning, at the Centre for Distance Education, which took place on Friday 11 March 2016 at Senate House, University of London, focused on Open Badges as the missing link in Open Education.

My aim was to view Mozilla Open Badges in a wider context of Open Education and this again in a yet wider context of the Open Movement, which started with the Open Source concept towards the end of the 1990ies. The open source movement is directly linked to Mozilla, created as a free-software community by members of Netscape, who publicly released the source code of the Netscape Communicator in 1998. Open Badges are one of the key initiatives and concepts of the Open Movement and of Open Education given their dedication and mission to explore new ways of open credentialing and accreditation for all types of learning (Knight & Casilli, 2012).

So, what is “a missing link” in this context? Given the yet evolving nature of the OB concept and standard, I have chosen the following definition to discuss where we are at with Open Badges and how the future may look like:

“A missing link would possess the “in-between” evolutionary properties of both the ancestors’ original traits and the traits of the evolved descendants, hence showing a clear connection between the two.” (Melina, 2010)

It seems to me that the current version of open credentialing as enabled by Mozilla Open Badges, is at an intermediate stage, somewhere “in-between”, in a longer evolutionary process of credentialing practices.

With a growing number of new ideas about technological enhancements of Open Badges and applications of Open Badges disrupting traditional credentialing, it will be interesting to observe what the next incarnations of Open Credentialing may look like and what the drivers will be. Will it be the big data research and the need to provide meaningful metrics to different stakeholders including learners, educational organisations, employers and educational policy makers? Will it be the critical pedagogy endorsing human ability to think critically about own education? Or will it be the employability approach reflecting the need for new career concepts? Given the different possible influences, it is important to discuss the underlying framework of values which can/should drive the future open credentialing practices.

Here is the link to my presentation “Open Badges – The Missing Link in Open Education”

 

References
➤ Carla Casilli & Daniel Hickey (2016) Transcending conventional credentialing and assessment paradigms with information-rich digital badges, The Information Society, 32:2, 117-129.
➤ Casilli, C. (2013). Badge pathways. Retrieved from https://carlacasilli.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/ badge-pathways-part-1-the-paraquel
➤ Broekman, P., Hall, G., Byfield, T., Hides S. & Worthington, S. (2014). Open Education. A Study in Disruption. Rowman & Littlefield International, Series: Disruptions.
➤ Ito, M., K. Gutierrez, S. Livingstone, B. Penuel, J. Rhodes, K. Salen, J. Schor, J. Sefton-Green & Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://www.dmlhub.net/publications
➤ Klein, J. (2013). Design feedback for badge systems. Jess Klein. Retrieved from http:// jessicaklein.blogspot.com/2013/01/design-feedback-for-badge-systems.html
➤ Melina, R. (2010). What’s the Missing Link? Livescience. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com
➤ Suber, P. (2013). Open access. MIT Press essential knowledge. Retrieved from https://mitpress.mit.edu
➤ Willis, J. E., Quick, J. & Hickey, D. T (2015). Digital Badges and Ethics: The Uses of Individual Learning Data in Social Contexts. In: D. Hickey, J. Jovanovic, S. Lonn, J.E. Willis, III (eds.): Proceedings of the Open Badges in Education (OBIE 2015). New York, USA. Retrieved from http://ceur-ws.org
➤ Young, J. R. (2012). Badges Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-7. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Badges-Earned-Online- Pose/130241/

2 thoughts on “Open Badges – the missing link?

  1. I enjoyed your Keynote Ilona. A very comprehensive overview of Openness and credentialing.

    My personal opinion is that I feel that Open Badges have been around a long time and still haven’t made huge waves. So many employers and academics I have spoken to have never heard of Open Badges, while the academics who have look down their nose at them. I do feel that if a technology is around for so long and not been adopted yet by the non-enthusiasts, that they are doomed.

    However, I feel that Open Badges have so much potential, perhaps not necessarily in their present form. Maybe your subtitle “The missing link” is pertinent here. I feel like I’m still waiting for someone to really show that badges have value and are valued by those on the receiving end and I’m not the only one waiting. Perhaps we’ll end up waiting for them to evolve, then adopt their successor and Badges will be forever remembered as the missing link

    • Thank you for this insightful comment Andy. Yes, I know what you mean. Despite all the potential the current technology (in a broad sense of the term) does not make it really straight forward and easy to use by anyone. That is probably one of the reasons why we have not seen a huge wave of adoption yet. Let’s see if and how Open Badges can get to the next stage. What do you think would be key aspects to look into?

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