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Open Badges: Potentially Disruptive

Posted By: Judy Bloxham

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The first Higher Education conference on Open Badges took place at Southampton University on the 8th of March 2016 and with attendees flying in from across the world it was a lively event.

In the keynote address from Doug Belshaw, a key champion of the Open Badge system, the "disruptive" potential of Open Badges was discussed, as well as the need for change in traditional, educational thinking. Doug highlighted:

  • Open Badges can fill the gaps left between traditional credentials, accrediting smaller chunks of learning such as soft skills, specific application mastery, and skills for specific job requirements
  • They offer descriptive, rather than prescriptive, accreditation and can capture competency, skills or knowledge in a much wider defined way
  • They facilitate non-linear learning allowing the learner to determine their own path
  • As they can be designed and given by anyone Open Badges are democratic, potentially moving the power of determining value in learning away from exam boards and universities
  • With so much learning now taking place in non-formal settings Open Badges are a great way of evidencing lifelong learning

Practical examples of Open Badges being used in CPD and skill recognition were explored. City & Guilds have facilities to show your Open Badges as part of their application process, and many companies such as FCA, IBM, Adobe, HR Management development courses in the USA, and the Open University are making increasing use of the OB system.

The day closed with Carla Casilli, questioning if there really was a need for uniformity when awarding badges and whether it matters if the reason for awarding badges differs for individuals. A badge has the ability to capture so much more than a traditional qualification baked into its design, including the criteria for awarding, associated evidence and related standards. The overriding messages is that it’s the learning that matters not the badge!

With anyone having the ability to issue Open Badges a key issue raised by event attendees was validity. eCom Scotland’s Open Badge solution, eNetBadges, has traceability built in. The badge is created and its details stored securely so that it can always be tracked and verified.

Find out more about the Power of Open Badges and how eNetBadges can be integrated into your organisation’s learning environment.

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