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”


➤ 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 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
➤ Klein, J. (2013). Design feedback for badge systems. Jess Klein. Retrieved from http://
➤ Melina, R. (2010). What’s the Missing Link? Livescience. Retrieved from
➤ Suber, P. (2013). Open access. MIT Press essential knowledge. Retrieved from
➤ 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
➤ Young, J. R. (2012). Badges Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-7. Retrieved from Pose/130241/


Wikipedia-Diversity is a new collaboration between Wikimedia Germany and Gender & Technology Center at Beuth University, dedicated to promoting diversity in Wikipedia. We have just started in February and are starting off with an interdisciplinary research team bringing in expertise from pedagogy, psychology, sociology and culture studies. The topic is super interesting and the team truly dedicated so I am really glad to lead this project. Our first common paper describing the approach was accepted for the eSociety Conference 2013 and I enjoyed presenting and discussing with the eSociety community in March (presentation below). Our approach is based on transdisciplinary principles (as we intend to utilise approaches from various disciplines to find best possible solutions) and on the principles of open innovation (as we intend to support the sharing of ideas, skills and resources from inside-out and outside-in). We are now prioritising the common goals for the overall strategy and the milestones for the first year of the project. This summer semester I will be also working with my students in the course “Media Didactics and Learning Design” at Beuth University on designing digital learning materials addressing specific aspects related to fostering diversity. It is a very exciting phase and I just can’t stop thinking about solutions and ideas.

  • If you know of some inspiring approaches that may be relevant for our project, please let me know!
  • If you are interested to find out more, I am curating resources on ScoopIt: Wikipedia-Diversity on Scoop it
  • If you want to read in German, here is the project website (under construction): WiDi project website

Online community life cycle

This week I presented our netnographic research on community lifecycle at a MeMo project meeting at the Federal Minsitry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).

The netnographic research I presented is based on the five stages of community development model by Wenger, McDermott and Synder  (2002), which we used as an underlying research model in the research project “Mediencommuniyt 2.0” (2009-2011) to identify the major phases of an online community development.

The presentation is based on the reasearch paper: “The stages of online community development” (published in German).

The presentation can be viewed below.

In the paper we reconstruct the five stages of community development, which are defined in the model by Wenger, McDermott and Synder (2002) as potential, coalescing, maturing, stewardship and transformation. Each stage of community development is oscillates between two opposing tendencies that a community must address before moving on. Thus communities experienced different challenges or tensions along the way of their development. The five stages and their developmental tensions are

  1. Potential: Discover/Imagine: Communities evolve organically toward their potential but at the same time they have to imagine and plan their development.
  2. Coalescing: Incubate/Deliver Value: Communities have to support member relationships incubate but at the same time they provide value to members.
  3. Maturing: Focus/Expand: Communities develop intimacy and  sense of identity but at the same time they have to let in new members an ideas to grow.
  4. Stewardship: Ownership/Openness: Communities have to balance their sense of ownership with redefining community boundaries to foster vitality.
  5. Transformation: Let Go/Let Live: Communities struggle with both letting go and finding ways to live on while undergoing transformation in the final stage.

What I found interesting in our research was that we could easily spot the stages and their developmental tendencies as described by Wenger, McDermott and Synder  (2002) in the lifecycle of Mediencommunity. We could identify much agreement with the theoretical model based on on mix of data from observations, interviews, surveys, logfile analysis and other methods we combined in the netnographic paradigm.

To me personally it would be very interesting to find out if there are any other similiar, documented studies out there that are based on the 5-stage-model of community development by Wenger, McDermott and Synder (2002)? If you are aware of any, please let me know!

*Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Open Learning and Collaboration 2.0

The Future Social Learning Networks 2012 project (short: FSLN12; hashtag: #FSLN12) has already started at our two partner universities in Israel – Levinsky’s College of Education and Holon Institute of Technology. Tomorrow my course “Media didactics and design” at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin will follow with the first two sessions.

As we say on the FSLN blog:

The overall goal of tFSLN12 is to foster collaboration in international and heterogeneous teams using a wide variety of social media tools. The course will engage students in project-based learning, the active examination with social media in a real-world cooperation scenario as well as with the examination of enablers for mobile learning.

What we are actually doing is fostering open learning and international & interdisciplinary collaboration with Web 2.0. the students from Israel has done great job so far, setting up different learning spaces and creating some awesome intro videos about themselves. You can watch them on the FSLN Vimeo group. Let’s see if my students in Berlin get that creative?! It’s definitely a challenge …

To keep up with the spirit of openness and collaboration, I have put my slides for tomorrow on SlideShare:

I am looking forward to this new experience!

Stayed tuned 🙂

Mobile Learning 2.0

Mobile Learning 2.0 has been the topic of my paper and presentation at the IADIS Mobile Learning Conference 2012 in Berlin. The paper explores the potential and challenges of collaborative mobile learning as a foundation for participatory curriculum development based on insights from a pilot phase of the iCollaborate project (#iCollab12 on Twitter). iCollaborate is an international collaboration project between university students and lecturers from four different countries & universities: AUT University in New Zealand (architecture students in Auckland), Beuth University Germany (sociology of technology students in Berlin),  Salford University in UK (design students in Sheffield and Salford) and Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain (educational technology students in Tarragona).

Our project builds upon a number of theoretical and pedagogical approaches, including:

  • Mobile learning as socio-cultural process (Vygotsky, 1987),
  • Mobile learning in communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991),
  • Mobile learning as participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006),
  • Mobile learning as digital augmentation (Cook, 2010),
  • Mobile learning as enabler for rhizomatic learning (Cormier, 2010),
  • Mobile learning as heutagogical approach   (Cochrane & Rhodes, 2011)
  • Mobile learning as serendipitous learning (Buchem, 2011).

The focus of the iCollaborate project is on pedagogical strategies for cross-boundary, collaborative uses of mobile web for learning through the development of personal learning networks, personal learning environments and user generated content.

The paper reflects upon the potential and challenges of such a  collaboration and will be published soon. You can view the presentation on SlideShare or even watch my presentation on QIK  (Thanx @Thomas Cochrane for live streaming!).

ePortfolio in Europe – starting a cooperation network

Just recently we have started a Call for a European Consortium “European ePortfolio Network”. Our aim is to establish a network of actors involved in the design and implementation of ePortfolio policies, technologies and practice. As we would like to submit a proposal to the European Comission (3-year project), we are looking for both consortium partners and associate partners wishing to work with us on developing the European network and making European ePortfolio initiatives more visible, especially in terms of comparative national reports.

Here are some preliminary ideas on how we would like to make it happen:

Year 1: ePortfolio European inventory

Y1 is mainly focused on gathering intelligence on past, current and future ePortfolio and ePortfolio-related initiatives. The outcome of this collection of data will result in an interactive database/wiki that will facilitate the retrieval, aggregation, comparison and update of information related to ePortfolios. Making visible ePortfolio initiatives should result in the emergence of informal networks that will be formalised Y2.

Year 2: National and Thematic Reports

Based on the information gathered Y1, Y2 is mainly focused on the publication of national and thematic reports on the state of the art of ePortfolio practice and technologies, green and white papers. The publication of national reports, green and white papers will be organised through public consultation with all ePortfolio actors and should result in the creation of national/regional/sectoral/thematic networks, or their reinforcement where they exist. National reports will be published in national languages with executive reports in English, while thematic reports will be published in English with executive reports in national languages.

Year 3: Self-Sustainable European Network

Based on national and thematic reports, a number of public initiatives will be held: meetings, workshops seminars, conferences, plugfests etc. These events will be the opportunity to establish collaboration across actors to discuss further and implement the visions and ideas contained in the national reports, green and white papers. At the end of Y3 Europortfolio should become fully self-sustainable through the revenue generated by its activities (workshops, conferences, projects) and membership fees (individuals, organisations) collected by national chapters.

The initial summary of the proposal is accessible at If you are interested to join as a partner or associated partner, you are invited to provide details using an online form accessible at: Responses will be used to update the Summary and to invite partners to join as Partner or Associate Partner.

Your ideas, feedback and support on making a European ePortfolio Network happen are very welcome!*

Ilona Buchem (Beuth University, Germany) and Serge Ravet (ADPIOS, France)


*We look forward to your comments, emails or as entries in the online form:

Social Learning #solea11

Mein Beitrag zu #Solea11 ist ein wenig verspätet und dennoch möchte ich noch zu der spannenden Diskussion im Rahmen der Blogparade #Solea11 beitragen. Ich habe mich sehr gefreut als ich über diese Initiative erfahren habe und hoffe, dass die Organisatoren und die Autoren viele interessante Erkenntnisse daraus gewonnen haben. Vielen Dank an Cornelie Picht für die Einladung.

Soweit die kurze Einführung. Nun meine Position zum Thema „Social Learning“:

Social Learning ist ein vielschichtiger Begriff und kann m.E. im weiteren und im engeren Sinne betrachtet werden. Im weiteren Sinne bedeutet Social Learning das gemeinsame Lernen in Gruppen, Netzwerken, Communities. Sicherlich haben Menschen seit je her gemeinsam mit anderen gelernt. Dass soziales Lernen bei unterschiedlich organisierten und industrialisierten Gemeinschaften die Grundlage des Lernens darstellt, wissen wir u.a. aus der ethnographischen Forschung (z.B. die Arbeiten von Lave und Wenger). Auch aus der entwicklungspsychologischen Perspektive wurde mehrmals die Rolle des sozialen Lernens für die Entwicklung des Menschen, vor allem in den ersten Monaten/Jahren des Lebens, betont (z.B. die Arbeiten von Donald Winnicott). Soziales Lernen steht im Zentrum u.a. sozialkognitivistischer (u.a. Bandura) und sozialkonstruktivistischer (u.a. Vygotsky) Ansätze. Dass sich mehrere Wissenschaftler und Disziplinen mit sozialem Lernen schon länger beschäftigen bedeutet jedoch nicht, dass wir bereits alles über soziales Lernen wissen oder dass „soziales Lernen nichts Besonderes“ wäre. Ganz im Gegenteil: Wie die neuste Forschung in sozialen Neurowissenschaften, z.B. zur sozialen Kognition, zeigt, bleibt soziales Lernen ein spannendes Thema, bei dem es noch viel zu entdecken gibt (hier möchte ich vor allem die Arbeiten von António Damásio erwähnen).

Social Learning im engeren Sinne gibt dann es mehrmals. Dieser Begriff wird für verschiedene Lernformen in unterschiedlichen Kontexten verwendet. Hier drei ausgewählte Beispiele: Im Bereich der sozialen Arbeit wird der Begriff „Social Learning“ als Synonym für das Lernen durch soziales Engagement verwendet. In diesem Kontext wird soziales Lernen vor allem als Grundlage und/oder Ergebnis von „Service Learning“, „Civic Engagement“, „Citizen Participation“ und „Community Empowerment“ verstanden.  Soziales Lernen als Begriff gibt es auch im Kontext des organisationalen Lernens. Insbesondere im Bezug auf das Konzept der „lernenden Organisation“ wird soziales Lernen als kollektives Lernen, kollektive Reflexion, Organisationsintelligenz und Organisationsgedächtnis aus Perspektive der Organisationsentwicklung diskutiert. Und dann gibt es auch den Begriff „Social Learning“ im Kontext von E-Learning vor allem E-Learning 2.0. Und auf diesen Anwendungskontext läuft die Diskussion bei #solea11 hinaus.

Was ist also das Besondere am Social Learning im Kontext von E-Learning 2.0? Ich möchte gerne hier zwei folgende Punkte erwähnen:

Lernen durch soziale Vernetzung: Im Gegensatz zu den vorherigen E-Learning-Ansätzen, die man vereinfacht als „E-Learning 1.0“ bezeichnen könnte, gibt es mit dem Aufkommen von Social Media/Web 2.0 eine Tendenz dazu, Lernen als Ergebnis der sozialen Vernetzung zu betrachten. Um den Unterschied mal plakativ darzustellen: während das Augenmerk beim E-Learning 1.0 darauf ausgerichtet war, die Inhalte und Lernwege intelligent zu strukturieren, so dass die Lernenden möglichst effizient ein von „Experten“ festgelegtes Soll erreichen, steht beim E-Learning 2.0 vor allem die Förderung der Vielfalt der Zugänge zum Lernen über die Verknüpfungen im sozialen Netzwerk im Vordergrund. Dabei wird die Rolle der Emergenz, die sich aus den Eigendynamiken der sozialen Beziehungen ergibt, betont. Das „Soll“ wird nicht zwingend vorgegeben. Lernergebnisse entstehen dank der sozialen Vernetzung.

Lernen als soziale Vernetzung: Im E-Learning 2.0 wird das Lernen nicht nur als Ergebnis sondern auch als Prozess der sozialen Vernetzung angesehen. Das Erstellen von Inhalten in einem Netzwerk/einer Community, das gegenseitige Kommentieren von Beiträgen in Blogs, das gemeinsame Erstellen von Inhaltsstrukturen in Wikis werden bereits als wertvolle Lernprozesse angesehen. Zugespitzt gesagt: Während beim E-Learning 1.0 die Lernenden alleine vor dem Rechner WBTs bearbeitet haben, lernt man beim E-Learning 2.0 durch Austausch mit anderen Menschen in Social Media.

Eine spannende Entwicklung zu Social Learning sehe ich auch in der Übertragung der Prinzipien von E-Learning 2.0 auf die herkömmlichen Bildungsszenarien, z.B. in der Hochschullehre. Hier gibt es mehrere Versuche (oft mit einem Experiment-Charakter), die Prinzipien von Kollaboration, Offenheit und Mitbestimmung durch den Einsatz von Web 2.0 in klassischen Settings zu integrieren. Social Learning wird dann sowohl in „internen“ Gruppen, z.B. unter Studierenden, aber auch über die klassischen Grenzen hinaus, z.B. mit „externen“ Experten, Studierenden, praktiziert. „Social“ könnte dann als Ausdehnung der sozialen Vernetzungen und die Einbettung in einem breiteren sozialen Kontext verstanden werden. Zusätzlich können Lernende das Curriculum mit-/bestimmen, angefangen mit den Lernzielen, über Prozesse, Inhalte, Medien bis hin zu Lernergebnissen. Zum anderen werden emergente Entwicklungen als Chance und nicht unbedingt als Störfaktor betrachtet. Neue Bedürfnisse, Fragen, Ansichten, die im Prozess entstehen, werden zu einem integralen Teil einer Lehr-/Lernsituation. Hier könnte „Social“ als Mitbestimmung und Partizipation aufgefasst werden.

Im Prinzip ist der Begriff „Social Learning“ so vielschichtig wie vielschichtig das Wort „Social“ ist. Dazu kommt natürlich noch die Frage was sich unter dem Begriff „Learning“ verbirgt, aber an dieser Stelle mache ich schon Schluss 😉