What are Open Badges?

Open Badges are seen as a potential new approach to granting learning credentials -- like micro-credits -- organized from the perspective of documenting personal skills and achievement in the same way a Boy or Girl Scout might earn a merit badge. This approach is being used in settings like the Khan Academy, with promising results. People watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. Mozilla has launched its own badge system, enabling users to easily display their achievements on the web. Open badges can be used as a way to incorporate some of the advantages of game mechanics as participants work through various levels or stages to achieve credentials. While open badges are not by any means pervasive in education systems, they appeal to many educators because they are considered to be more authentic signs of knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition than standard tests, grades, or course credits.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Open badges are a game changer for higher education as it challenges one of the monopolies of higher education institutions - the authority to issue a certification of learning. Any organisation can become a badge issuer, and even though governmental education policy will take some time to catch up with that concept, it will lead to more competition for students and put pressure on universities to respond to their customer needs.[- j.seitzinger j.seitzinger Feb 21, 2013]
  • Open badges, with their flexibility to have both institutional, as well as peer and self accreditation and validation, seem like the missing piece of the move towards open education, and particularly the rise of MOOCs.
  • I agree with Joy above. I think Badges could be the impetus to shift away from traditional certification to a user directed model of learning that allows relevance and multifaceted study that better aligns to our lives and work. I'd like to think that they also have a place in the VET system but suspect we are locked into the Training Package model for some time and at best we'll see providers increasingly packaging courses with units from different Packages - still provider driven - robyn.jay robyn.jay Feb 21, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The description states:"People watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. I would amend that to 'earn new badges by watching or participating in activities'. [- j.seitzinger j.seitzinger Feb 21, 2013]
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • The benefits to a self-directed, life-long learner (like myself) are obvious: accreditation for small units of work that are interesting to me, portability across multiple institutional boundaries, timing is totally up to me.
    The benefits to an institution are less obvious. (I have raised this with the Faculty of Sciences at my own University and seen little enthusiasm for an effort that could 'dilute the brand') - fang fang Feb 19, 2013
  • I don't undertand the technical aspects of how it's done, but if my understanding of the intent of things like the Mozilla Project is correct, then an organisation will only issue a badge if it is legitimate (validated, secure, etc). Perhaps for shorter courses - eg for a subject not a whole qualification. Rather than dilute the brand it can promote the brand more widely, but a brand that represents new products/services. (apologies for the commercialese) If the talk over the last several years that individuals will rely less and less on longer courses and more on discrete, shorter blocks of learning is correct then Open Badges should proliferate. - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Feb 19, 2013
  • Both of the answers above, tie Open Badges to course (or unit) work in a directed program at an institution. However badges can be earned by participating in non-institutional activities, for example with the P2PU project. This will pose educational organisations a problem: if they become an issuer, it should, conversely also accept badges earned by a learner in other places or through other activities. Although universities have recognition-of-prior-learning processes in place currently, those are usually at a unit level. How will they adopt recognition at the micro level?[- j.seitzinger j.seitzinger Feb 21, 2013]

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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