Are open badges the future for recognition of skills?

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# [ Open Badges]. Doug Belshaw
# [ Open Badges]. Doug Belshaw
# Some requirements for general-purpose badge systems. Simon Grant
# [ Some requirements for general-purpose badge systems]. Simon Grant

Revision as of 07:22, 25 February 2012

CETIS Conference 2012
Wed 22 Feb:
11:15 Keynote: Ian Hughs
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Parallel Sessions
- QTI Codebash
- Education App Store
- The Learning Registry
- Thwarted or Embedded
- Data to Improve Student Retention
16:30 Keynote: Rob Abel
Thu 23 Feb:
09:15 Parallel Sessions
- Emerging Reality
- Open Badges
- QTI Demonstration
- Social Network Analysis
- Open Mic
12:45 Lunch
13:45 Plenary
14:15 Keynote: Prof. Mark Stubbs

A session in the 2012 JISC CETIS Conference

Facilitators: Simon Grant and Phil Barker

While new official skills credit initiatives such as QCF and ECVET are getting started for formal learning, Mozilla develops "Open Badges" aiming to "solve the problem" of "recognition for skills and achievements gained outside of school", "recognizing 21st century skills, unlocking career and educational opportunities, and helping learners everywhere level up in their life and work." (Quotes as at 2012-02-06) What are the practical requirements for an infrastructure to support the translation of the outcomes of learning into competences of value in life?

This session will provide a forum to explore several of the many connected issues: learners claiming and evidencing skills, and expressing their values and self-identity; documenting that not only official courses, but many activities offer valuable learning outcomes; certifying assessment not only by institutions, but by companies, other organisations and even peer groups; and enabling employers and others to see the information they value about people's abilities.


[draft, outline]


  1. Open Badges. Doug Belshaw
  2. Some requirements for general-purpose badge systems. Simon Grant

Activity: Suggested exercise for group discussion

"Imagine we are in the position of a new body (like the one envisaged by MITx - press release; home page) accrediting learning based on OER usage. Can we envision a system for accreditation or certification that is valuable (in particular that stands a chance of being recognised by employers) but low-cost, playing its part in a learning ecosystem that is low-cost throughout? For example, is there a way of using peer assessment? What insights from the open badges community can we use to help, e.g. using badges as the visible token of the outcome? To what extent would this system be sound, and could it be sustainable? If so, how could it fit into HEIs as we know them – or as we don't yet?"

and feedback.

Background reading

Useful starting points for discussion are the working paper on the Mozilla site, Open Badges for Lifelong Learning; and Rowin's, David's and Simon's CETIS blog posts on the topic. Anyone considering attending this session is welcome to provide a position paper to help seed the discussion, and we can link to it or post it here. (It need not be a formal paper: a blog post or presentation from some previous event would be fine.)

Three posts by Doug Belshaw. "What did we learn? Well, I think I can speak on behalf of us when I say that talking of ‘badges for lifelong learning’ sounds simple but actually contains a lot of nuance and hidden complexity around assessment. "
Discussion "white paper" from Mozilla and P2P University describing learner scenarios and how open badges might help.
"What employers need isn't really a degree. They want some sort of certificate that establishes objectively that the applicant meets a certain standard of proficiency in the field. They want a guarantee of competence." (J.D. Hildebrand)
by Jeffrey R Young, Chronical of Higher Education. "Employers might prefer a world of badges to the current system. After all, traditional college diplomas look elegant when hung on the wall, but they contain very little detail about what the recipient learned." ... "Some observers see a darker side, though, charging that badges turn all learning into a commodity, and thus cheapen the difficult challenge of mastering something new."
See also Is There Merit in a ‘Badge’ System That Certifies Higher Education Achievement? a response by Ken Udas, CEO UMassOnLine.
by Grainne Hamilton, JISC RSC Scotland. "Thinking about badges in terms of my own learning and career, there have been times when it would have been useful to have some transferable and recognized way of demonstrating skills that would be relevant to a particular job."

For a continually updated collection of news and resource about Open Badges see Badges for Lifelong Learning on

"Give me enough medals and I will win any war"--Napoleon.