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Digital Badges

Labo : Open Badges in Education - Step 2

Digital Badges Lab with La Vitrine technologie-éducation (VTÉ) - Open Badges UBC Perspective

By Erin Fields. The 28 November 2014


The original article can be found at the Open Badges UBC website. 

Open Badges UBC was invited to participate in the Vitrine technologie-éducation (VTÉ) second Open Badges Lab to discuss the projects successes and barriers in implementation.

This was an exciting opportunity to discuss the project with a number of influential members of the open badges initiative, including Daniel T. Hickey who is currently studying the design principles emerging across the 30 projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative .

This group has been brought together by VTÉ for:

… the discovery and exploration of both emerging technologies and new approaches to teaching… (And) to assess the value of Open Badges in diverse learning contexts. (VTE website)

Step #2 – Use Cases for Digital Badges

The second session of the VTE lab was designed to discuss the diverse contexts in which badges have emerged. Those attending the meeting came from a variety of backgrounds and settings, including non-profit organizations, K-12 sector, and academic environments, and brought both practical and theoretical issues to the table.

Step #1 Activities Discussion

For the badge creation exercise from the previous week, participants accessed and reviewed numerous badge creation tools (e.g. Youtopia, Open Badge Factory, Moodle, Credly, etc.) to better understand the badging landscape. The discussion about guidance over the process of developing a badge program and the graphic design of the badges themselves were central issues addressed.

When developing a badge program, issues related to value and use of the badges needs to be a central element to the process. As noted in the discussion, the tools had very little guidance as to why the developer would create the badge. The process of thinking through the skills, knowledge, behaviour, and evidence needed to earn a badge are integral to the development of a useful badge. The participants agreed that there is a need for the badge creation tools to provide some guidance to badge creation before the actual digital badge itself is created.

In addition to the thought process when developing a badge, the actual digital badge design itself needs to be considered. There was some debate around the need to brand the badge with the institution awarding the badge. What kind of information needs to be on the badge to provide context to where the badge was awarded? Is the metadata enough to provide this context? While there is no real answer to these questions, it does raise the important issue of the relationship between the institution developing the badge and the badge itself.

Badge Programs Discussion

Presenting information about the Open Badges UBC project was an enlightening experience.  The ability to discuss barriers with members of the badging community provided insight into the project that is often difficult to have when working “on the ground.”  Of particular interest was the conversation about transitioning badges in  higher education into a more formal practice.  The Open Badges UBC pilot projects are just small steps into a much larger conversation about support and characterization of badges as a part of the credentials of an academic institution.  This is in no way speaking to the replacing of badges for formal credentials but aligning them with current assessment practices to illustrate the full spectrum of learning that occurs during a students’ time at a university.  Although this will be a long road to transition badges to more formal practice in academia, it was noted that it is important during these initial pilots to capture key decisions during the badge program development and highlight the pros and cons of each decision made to ensure that the project can best articulate the needs when transitioning from pilot to practice.

The video below captures the larger conversation.

Next Steps

For the next lab session, we will be delving into the exercise developed by Erin Fields, Don Presant, and Alexandre Enkerli to design a badge-based learning pathway using the following toolkits:

The purpose of the exercise is to describe the decision-making process when creating badge-based programs.  The exercise will help participants discuss how the toolkits provide the guidance and clarity around the process of badge creation and the gaps that exist in the toolkits that cause barriers to effective design.

The exercises and previous meeting notes can be found in the shared document

Session #3 – Implementing Badges will  be held on December 11 from 1:30pm to 3:00pm (Eastern Standard Time (EST), GMT-5).  This session will provide a space for discussion on how to transition badge programs toward the full ecosystem needed to make them work.





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