Experiment “Open Badges” – potentials and challenges of digital verification of competences in higher education.
Based on the concept of “experiment with a society as a lab” from the field of media sociology, the starting point for my keynote was the thesis that Open Badges like many other novel, digital technologies, are applied directly in educational contexts without prior examination of their potentials and risks. Most of the times digital learning technologies and concepts, such as Open Badges, cannot be validated in controlled settings of a research lab, but are first applied in real-life educational settings and validated only later through experimentation which takes place in a regular course of affairs, within existing organisational structures and processes and involving students, teachers and other subjects. Also, following the idea of mode 2 of knowledge production by Gibbons et al. (1994), the knowledge about the potentials and risks of novel technologies emerges as a result of an interdisciplinary, connected, open and cross-context interactions of persons involved in such experiments. This is also the case with Open Badges and the knowledge about the possibilities as well as effects of their application being created not only within one (educational) organisation but across diverse and globally distributed communities.
While applying novel technologies and concepts, such as Open Badges, it is important to keep in mind that the effects of experimentation are not always predictable and may have both positive and/or negative effects on the subjects involved. Reflecting the knowledge created following the principles of mode 2 by Gibbons at al. (1994) and taking responsibility for the design and implementation of Open Badges and other novel technologies in (higher) education is connected to a number of ethical and legal questions, some of which have been addressed by Willis, Quick & Hickey (2015).