Open badges are…An open technical standard – meaning any organisation can create, issue and verify them, and any individual can earn, manage and display them across the web.A way of building a picture of your learning throughout life.Full of information – who issued them, what for and when.Totally sharable – users can take them anywhere on the web, showing them off to prospective employers and celebrating achievements with friends.
Hidden within each Open Badges image is a series of metadata which gives the badge it’s context (more about context later)…Badge name – a brief summation of the skill/competency that we’re recognising, but we also want this to be fun. Think of the badge name as the shop window, you want people to be excited by the badge and want to earn it. For a badge about Communication Skills why not call it Cool Communicator? Think about your audience, who does the badge need to appeal to and choose your badge name accordingly.Description – this should give me details about what the earner had to demonstrate to receive the badge. Explain a little bit about the skill you’re recognising, ensuring that you’re being clear about the level of expertise.Criteria – the criteria information contains a link back to a web page with the criteria that the earner needed to meet to achieve the badge. The criteria allows you to paint a picture of the skills the earner has and the process they went through to be awarded the badge.Issuer – a link back to the organisation who issued the badge. This helps anyone looking at the badge to find out more about the context in which it was issued and learn more about its value. Evidence – a link back to any evidence you can share about what the earner did to achieve the badge. This could be a document, image, audio, video – or something else entirely.Date issued – when did the earner receive the badge? Expires – an optional field to allow the badge to expire. For example you could issue a badge which is only valid for 12 months at which point the earner needs to return to you to complete a refresher before being issued with a new badge.Standards – if your badge relates to an educational standard you can provide its name, a short description and a URL to more information about the standard. Tags – include free text tags describing the badge, for example a First Aid badge might be tagged with “medical”, “first aid”, “training” and “care”.All of these items of metadata allow the issuer to put the badge into context and explain its value to anyone viewing it.
Badge the UK is an initiative from Digital Me and funded by theNominet Trust. The initiative aims to encourage organisations who offer learning to start issuing open badges and to give employers the knowledge the recognise the value of badges.As part of the UK wide initiative there are a host of free resource available including a badge design canvas, allowing you to build your badges from the ground up including all the metadata you need to demonstrate their value.Find out more in this short film…
Unique Learning Badges is a European Youth In Action funded project led by four partners. The project aims to provide youth work professionals a way to recognise and reward learning in formal, informal and non formal settings.The project will be producing a platform which will be open source to allow youth work organisations to issue their own badges. Find out more in this short film…
Quite often one of the concerns we hear is that it is very difficult to establish the value of a badge because any organisation or individual can issue them. We’ve also seen other systems in recent times that allow people to show of their skills. LinkedIn Endorsements for example give you the ability to endorse your connections for particular skills or topics – but what is the value of these endorsements?
So what do we mean by context?Put simply the metadata contained within each badge tells us about the issuer, criteria and evidence allowing us to see the value. Recruitment consultants for example use advanced Google search techniques to head hunt potential employees. Currently they often rely on information held on people’s LinkedIn profiles and other websites, however they have no way of verifying the information they can find. Open Badges provide a digital and secure way of finding people with particular skills and more importantly – the evidence of those skills.In time as we see Open Badges integrated into more of the web we’ll have more data available on the kinds of skills that people have, where they are learning the skills and more importantly – where the gaps are.
Gamification is where we use game thinking and game mechanics to engage users in solving problems or completing tasks.We can use gamification as a way to motivate people to participate in learning or volunteer. Encouraging a sense of healthy competition between individuals, creating leader boards and incorporating ideas from games into our practise can be a great way of engaging people in our programmes.Now we’re going to watch a short film with games creator, Jane McGonical, talking on harnessing the power of gaming to solve real world problems…
So that video was designed to provoke your thought processes about gamification and start to get you thinking about how the idea could work for your organisation.What do people think?
Volunteer Centre BWF Mozilla Open Badges Initial Information Sessions