Making competences acquired in
voluntary organisations visible:
experiences of designing badges for
training and learning by doing in the
Coordinator, OK Study Centre
OK Study Centre
• A nationwide non-formal adult education
provider funded mainly by the Finnish
• We organise, study, develop, supervise
and fund training in NGOs.
– We have 69 member organisations and ca.
150, 000 occasional students anually
• In recent years we have undertaken many
R&D activities to develop new ways to
validate learning in the voluntary sector.
Our badge story so far…
• We have been involved in several
projects to develop open badge
– We participated in a large project with
Discendum, during which we built a
website and organised training for our
– We are in a Nordic project called open
badges for Adult Educators, which focuses
on bringing badges to the adult education
What have we ended up with?
• We now have:
– A badge infrastructure for our training
courses +meta-level badges for
completing a ’training path’
– 2 badges to recognise learning
outcomes from volunteering; more
badges to come
– A badge for adult educators
– A website + supervision for members
Examples of badges created
for volunteering purposes
• We have created badges together with
member NGOs with common criteria.
• Badges created for skill batches:
Chairperson, ’peer champion’,
• Application with evidence,
organisations issue them
AdEO: Educator’s badge!
Serves as an introduction for educators and trainers.
You need 5 small pieces of evidence + a reflection.
Our way of thinking about
• Competencies gained by participation in
non-formal education or volunteering
activity are real and useful and they can be
validated and made visible.
• Badges are a really good way of recognising
skills acquired outside the classroom.
– For informal learning by volunteering, one can
devise the criteria more loosely than for
courses, which is welcomed by voluntary
• There are many forums for validation: e.g.
inside the voluntary sector
Benefits we have noticed
There are benefits for both individuals
• Individuals can find a new way of making
their skills visible, which is motivating and
• Can give voluntary organisations publicity and
a competitive edge: badges are already used
in volunteer recruitment.
• Courses in our field are planned and carried
out by professionals, but aren’t always well
known. Badges help in making learning
• We are pleased that we have got
– Many badges have a fairly high
• Our members say that they have
started to appreciate learning by
• Introduction takes
Thanks! This works!
It’s a fine digital
product, I hope people
will start to issue more
Tips for voluntary
• Start small. What kinds of achievements are
easy to ’wrap’ into a badge?
• You might want to start by individual skills
and achievements instead of batches.
• Ask you volunteers: what skills are most
important to them?
• Identify success stories and use them in
• Team up with other organsiations and
endorse each other’s badges!