“Open Badges as Bridges: Design, Create, Connect”: Glasgow, Scotland (28 October 2015)

This post shares my notes from today’s Digital Me Open Badges workshop at Glasgow Youth Theatre: “Open Badges as Bridges – Design, Create, Connect.” Please check out Grainne Hamilton’s guest post on the Open Scotland blog which gives useful background information on open badges and the workshop.

Morning sessions (introducing ourselves, common themes, planning and designing a badge):

Badges used to denote “school of life” type achievements and skills.

Challenges for badges: people’s “strengths” are not always amplified through conventional awards/certification, can badges help by highlighting soft skills, for example? How can badges by used to enable people to stand out from each other: what makes me different from other people and how can I show this? It was also highlighted that some employers are now offering badges (“connecting to opportunities”)

Scunthorpe using them for their Lit strategy. Supporter to Reporter: For Success (S2RfS) badges are staged: 628 badges awarded to date, 88% retention, 234 participants have completed pilot scheme. Next stage is “working for success” for people getting ready to work.

Open badges are being used at Edinburgh Student Association (21 different badges for Reps), Dundee (medical department), Abertay (HEAR) and Borders college (CPD).

Badges need to be integrated into existing structures (how best to do this): pathways?

The idea of communicating and mainstreaming formal qualifications through badges in order to highlight the specific practical set of skills that people have was also discussed.

Portability of badges in relation to multiple email accounts was raised as an issue: Mozilla and DigitalMe are working on this and are holding a hackathon at next month’s MozFest in London.

Designing a badge issues/challenges/questions: Brand identity, how to make badges appeal to intended audience, if the badge has an expiry date, granularity, sustainability (building a badge ecosystem with the capacity to grow), possibility to save reinventing pre-existing badges by reusing and assessment were all issues/challenges discussed. Peer assessment in particular was noted and shared experiences highlighted the need for criteria, clarity on what was being assessed and multiple reviewing in order to make this type of assessment meaningful.

Afternoon sessions (Open Badge Academy, designing badge pathways)

Open Badge Academy (OBA) is about “using badges to create a profile” (unifying support/content with tech side). OBA is for lifelong learning, anyone over 16 years of age, employers etc. Tech Futures Academy in partnership with businesses and governmental organisations. Closed beta launch w/c 2 November.

Process: you create a closed/open Academy, design a badge and learners are able to search for your badge (where applicable), learners submit multi-media as evidence, are awarded a badge which can then be shared. The platform enables the creator to also assess the impact that the badge is having. USPs: Other users can endorse your evidence (more robust) and OBA enables you to upload all kinds of evidence (e.g. photos, videos etc.) in order to evidence a badge (this mitigates longevity issues and brings together evidence that is often hosted on different platforms (e.g. you post a URL to your blog post). OBA also enables you to import in and share out existing badges.

Having your badges available as “a profile” which hosts all related evidence for skills enables employers to “dig in and evaluate skills” easily. You can see what badges others have been awarded. OBA have a verification process in place for academies that claim to be representing/awarding on behalf of institutions. Large-scale academies will need to pay for use.

Thinking ahead: OBA looking to enable ‘closed’ evidence at a later date. API will be coming next year and they are also considering specialist apps for specific academies. iOS but possibly Android if demand. Automated badges are also pending. Claim codes also future possibility for OBA (useful for large scale badge awarding, e.g. at a conference)

Examples/Case studies: Nationwide Young Carers in Focus (YCiF @YCIF_tweets) 200 young carers as champions: badges in advocacy, interviewing and presenting to enhance social media and digital skills in order to “influence change effectively.” Activities have included interviewing and engaging with high-level stakeholders and being responsible for the YCiF Twitter account (learning about what is appropriate for this context), which give people the opportunity to have practice based examples to evidence these types of skills. Leads to references: these can be used when looking for employment, applying for training etc.

Other examples: Mozilla Webmaker, Code Club, O2 Guru and Leeds City Council.

Also looked at “badged pathways to employment” where you look at career trajectory and identify “badgeable moments” which reveal skills needed for careers that are not always obvious (e.g. creativity). Give different way of showing skills, showcasing talents/attributes and “pathway to a job” via open badges.

Also thinking about visual representation of badging network. Role of sharing to ensure badges can network and be comparable. Advised to go “generic” and simplify where possible and when thinking about potentially complex systems of badging, e.g. multiple options for types of evidence that you can submit to show competency/skill. Need to differentiate between the latter and the activity.


3 thoughts on ““Open Badges as Bridges: Design, Create, Connect”: Glasgow, Scotland (28 October 2015)

  1. Pingback: Thinking About Open: Workshop Tour I | OEPScotland

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