Open Badges for Open Education

The Open Education Global Conference 2017 took place 8-10 March in Cape Town, South Africa. I was a great conference with a great number of interesting contributions and superb researchers and practitioners so I was very pleased to attend and introduce Open Badges as elements of Open Education in form of an Action Lab (see program and the Twitter hashtag #oeglobal). Also I presented a poster with the results of the policy research we have done in the Open Badge Network project.

It seems to me that the discussion around Open Education has been often narrowed down to Open Educational Resources and recently MOOCs, not sufficiently taking into consideration other forms of Open Education and Open Learning. I see Open Badges as one of these elements of Open Education which should be anchored in the global discourse on Open Education and Open Education Practices. I hope through these contributions to the conference program, I managed to trigger the interest and discussion about Open Badges for Open Education in this global community.

The OE Global Conference 2017 concluded but the Year of Open continues! The Year of Open is “a global focus on open processes, systems, and tools, created through collaborative approaches, that enhance our education, businesses, governments, and organizations” (learn more).

Here is the abstract of the Action Lab titled “Scaling up Open Badges for Open Education” and the link to my slides in SlideShare:

“This Action Lab aims at exploring and designing Open Badges as elements of Open Education. Open Badges are based on an open standard which enables to anyone to recognise and openly communicate open learning achievements including skills. Open Badges are used as open (micro) credentials and are an important element of Open Education as they enable learners to get their open learning achievements recognised, digitally recorded, validated and communicated to any audience in an open and transparent way. Open Education has been discussed in view of open access and participation in open courses and the production and use of Open Educational Resources. However, the element of recognition and communication of open education achievements has been neglected so far. The European Open Badge Network project is one of the global initiatives to promote Open Badges: http://openbadgenetwork.com.

This Acton & Design Lab aims at incubating ideas and formulating recommendations for scaling-up the use of Open Badges to recognise Open Learning in different open educational contexts. This lab takes 2 hours and starts with a hands-on demonstration of Open Badges as an open technology and educational approach including selected case studies (30 minutes). This is followed by a structured discussion about potentials and challenges of using Open Badges for recognition of Open Learning, using affinity diagramming techniques (30 minutes). The last part is about brainstorming ideas and designing recommendations for scaling-up Open Badges for Open Education (60 minutes). The last part is organised around three key dimensions of scaling-up of Open Badges, i.e. context, content, community. The results of the lab is a list of actions and recommendations for scaling up the use of Open Badges. The list encompasses policy, organisational, teacher and learner recommendations and will be published on the Open Badge Network portal.”

Experiment Open Badges

Last week I gave a keynote on Open Badges at the #JFMH2016 at TU Darmstadt. The title of my keynote was:

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).

Here is the link to my slides on SlideShare (slides are in German):

 

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/

Open Badge Network

This week we launched the Open Badge Network (OBN) portal. Open Badge Network is an Erasmus + project and strategic partnership which brings together organisations from across Europe to support the development of an Open Badge ecosystem, promoting the use of Open Badges to recognise non-formal and informal learning.

Our mission is to provide a trusted source of independent information, tools and informed practice to support people who are interested in creating, issuing and earning Open Badges across Europe. Read our Charter.

Mozilla Open Badges is an open standard that allows all skills and achievements to be recognised and shared across the web. Schools, Universities, Employers and informal learning providers are using open badges to capture life long learning which is currently unrecognised. Open Badges are radically changing the way we see credentials; from abstract measures of knowledge towards a tool to connect individuals with opportunities for employment, training and progression. Globally, over 2 million badges have been issued to date by 14,000 organisations.

Over the next 2 years, the Open Badge Network is committed to connecting and supporting the European badge community and with them, co-creating materials, tools and guidance to enable Open Badges to flourish within Europe.

These activities include:

  • A real-time inventory of Open Badge projects across Europe called “Badge the World”Badge the World seeks to document the many innovative Open Badge projects that are underway throughout the world.
  • Tools and guidance for organisations and individuals to issue, earn and display badges. Open Badge Resources include tools, project, use cases and publications.
  • A calendar of European events, webinars and an Open Badges MOOC. Please include your event in our Event Calendar for the dissemination of your event!
  • An active network of practitioners, educationalists and policy makers to connect and collaborate with. If you would like to help promote and advocate this mission please register and get in touch.

We are looking for organisations and individuals from across Europe to join us as Associate Partners to help grow the Open Badge Network.

Join us today!