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Recognising informal learning with digital badging


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Updated information about the raison d'etre and impact of applying assessment and digital badges to free online courses on OpenLearn ( at The Open University.

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Recognising informal learning with digital badging

  1. 1. Recognising informal learning with digital badges Patrina Law, Head of Free Learning @HigherEdPatrina
  2. 2. 2 Why do we do free learning? ELIZABETH THE SECOND by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith…
  3. 3. 3 3 Our commitment to ‘open’
  4. 4. 4 What is OpenLearn? Comprehensive: Over 900 free courses 1-100 hrs in length. From introductory to masters. Inspiring: Enriched with inspiring topical videos, interactive games, quizzes, polls and articles. Rewarding: Recognising progress and achievements through personal profiles, certification and digital badging.
  5. 5. 5 How does informal learning begin? 5
  6. 6. 6 Engaging new learners
  7. 7. 7 Why is this activity important? 7 7 Enquirers: 13% of visitor enquire about qualifying with the OU. 39m Total visitors worldwide inspired by free learning from the OU since launch. 4.9m New visitors every year. 0.5m •A showcase for new students •A taster of paid-for content •Confidence building •A taster for studying online / distance •A re-use/repurposing of content (reduces costs) •Improved grades in students
  8. 8. 8 8 Who are our OpenLearn learners?
  9. 9. 9 How do they feel about their learning? 58% ‘A test to give confidence my next module choice is appropriate for me’ 38% 80% Declare improved confidence in ability to study. Are students. 29% of enrolled are OU students. Want OU-branded recognition for informal learning. More likely to take another free course. More likely to recommend OU content to others. 80% 80% ‘The free extracts of courses gave me confidence to enroll in my first module…I have also been using them to practice time management.’ ‘A good talking point and something to include on my CV’ ‘Fees are now too high for me to consider continuing my degree’ ‘Thank you for providing a resource for people that cannot get to a facility due to physical or financial difficulty. ’
  10. 10. 10 What do informal learners want now? Cross (2007) describes informal learning as ‘the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn’ but in an environment where ‘ one assigns grades…’ and ‘ one takes attendance.’ We have moved from Cross’ anonymous world to one of identified informal learning. Whilst learning is still taking place as a supplement to formal learning there is a growing demand and expectation that informal learners want recognition for their achievements and engagement that can be acknowledged beyond a closed forum of learners. want OU-branded recognition for informal learning. 80%
  11. 11. 11 Why award badges? Image credits: Thornhill School; and Patrina Law. A means to recognise learning, to motivate learners, and to provide evidence of skills and achievements in a variety of formal and informal settings
  12. 12. 12 Digital badging in HE Research tells us that they are used: 1. by educators in MOOCs to reward and motivate learners to participate in a group. 2. by learners to let others know of their mastery usually in closed, online, tutored environments. 3. by universities as a method of encouraging first year students to complete and for staff development Awarding of a badge can often be a manual activity.
  13. 13. 13 Engaging with informal and formal learners Launched in 2015, Badged Open Courses (BOCs): 1. Give informal learners the recognition they’ve requested. 2. Give prospective students the skills to be prepared for undergraduate study. 3. Give our current students a means of developing and displaying skills relevant to career progression. Created using repurposed module content or via current module production Cheaper to produce than our MOOCs No tutoring overhead Badging infrastructure interoperable with open standards
  14. 14. 14 Badge display Mozilla Backpack (or other aggregator) My OpenLearn Profile Social networks e.g. LinkedIn Printable certificate
  15. 15. 15 BOC assessment framework • Learners need to achieve 50% to pass an assessment • Learners are given three attempts • If they fail on the third attempt, they can retake after 24 hours • Practice assessment is available throughout the course • All pages of the course must have been ‘read’ • Formal assessment takes place halfway and at the end Two successful assessments = 1 badge
  16. 16. 16 BOC impact since March 2015 • 1500 badges issued • The BOCs are generating over 12,000 new visitors a month to OpenLearn • They drive a very high proportion of learners to click-through to make an enquiry to the OU (~28%) • Completion rates of BOCs are higher than our MOOCs • 400 formal module registrations have been made (mostly entry level) • 3000 prospectus requests • Satisfaction rates are very high (~98%) • Surveys have also shown that up to 57% say that they will be sharing their achievements with an employer or prospective employer
  17. 17. 17 BOC impact – data analysis BOCs as a motivator and for recognition 71% perceive digital badge and certificate as equally important Responses to ‘What does earning a badge mean to you?’ Source: SurveyMonkey. End of course survey, English skills for learning. “The basic accreditation from these badges adds more value to the work I put in” “Thank you for giving me the confidence to do something I thought I had no intellect to actually do”
  18. 18. 18 BOCs supporting professional development • 39-57% will show badge to employer BOCs as preparedness and driver for study • Promising demographic for undergraduate recruitment (younger than OpenLearn overall) and existing qualifications: only 7-17% hold undergraduate degree compared to 26% on OpenLearn (MOOCs >70%) • Reasons for studying: Professional development (84%), personal interest (78%), preparation for study (54%) • 58% had not taken online course before “A good talking point and something to include on my CV” “Refreshed my maths skills and going on to do the open learn English course, will be applying to do an access course in March” BOC impact – data analysis
  19. 19. 19 Identified informal learners are clear about how they like to learn Responses to ‘Please rate how you felt about the different ways of learning on OpenLearn’. Source: SurveyMonkey. End of course survey, Succeed with maths Part 1 BOC impact – data analysis
  20. 20. 20 BOC impact – reasons for studying… Word cloud source: SurveyMonkey. End of course survey, Succeed with maths Part 1
  21. 21. Engaging partners in learning 21
  22. 22. 22 Next steps 1. Platform enables rapid feedback for interoperable innovation with the VLE (Moodle) 2. Continue to experiment in the open with digital credentialising and ‘volunteer’ social support 3. Developing a framework with IMS Global for international recognition through approved metadata 4. Extending curriculum to new postgraduates, plus subject-specific clusters, employability, workplace skills 5. Delivery of BOCs to offender learners (UK and Australia) 6. Working with Centre for Recording Achievement for the UK to recognise Digital Badging in HE 7. OU BOCs on OU Student Record and HEAR Outreach project of the year
  23. 23. 23 Your badge! Thank you for participating…. Visit to claim your Open University badge Digital Badging for HE claim code 387-B662-C20 or @HigherEdPatrina