The area of assessment, recognition and reward for skills development and learning beyond formal education has been a difficult one. However, the Digital Learning and Media Competition 4, sponsored by the MacAuthur Foundation (Press Release) in association with HASTAC and Mozilla (who are developing the infrastructure) are creating the concept of Badges (for Lifelong Learning) to demonstrate competency levels, to reflect abilities and skills developed in informal (and formal) learning and training and act as a validated indicator. These badges representing achievements can then be displayed on social media websites, profiles, reputation, and other places with an association to a person’s professional development.
On the launch video we hear from the primary partnership sponsors. Additionally, there are presentations from NASA, and US Department of Education represntatives.
I must admit that as I was watching the video there was a feeling of it being a US national initiative rather than something global and international. However, this particular point was raised and it was stipulated that competition and Open Badge infrastructure was an international affair; indeed there was activity taking place in Japan as well.
Mozilla is developing the ‘Open Badge’ infrastructure, which defines a set of standards and the technical building blocks to enable others to create and use badges for their websites. The hope is that such a system will help learners, educators, and employers all reach their goals.
Now this raises an interesting point for me about the relationship between employers and traditional education institutions. Previously, I was all for the idea of students creating ePortfolios to demonstrate their abilities to employers. I even did some investigatory work about which environment would be most convenient for students and prospective employers. However, I attended a presentation where an employer said that they had little interest in (time to) look at such material. They were reliant on the institutions being the gatekeepers of the accreditation and validation. However, there are some areas where professional standards are seen as a much better indicator of ability; CISCO and Microsoft qualifications are primary examples. With the concept of separating validation and accreditation of skills from the course (and potentially the institutions) which are easy for employers to access and understand, this could well be a significant (some might say paradigm) shift in educational provision.
Mozilla is also interested in developing people’s skills in web development. As a comment, this is a great initiative on the part of Mozilla who want to maintain the ethos of the Web being ‘open’. If people train to develop skills in Web development in an open way, assisted by Mozilla with the School of Webcraft, then they as the next generation of developers are much more likely to want to uphold and defend that ethos. Thus developing a self perpetuating, self sustaining community.
So now we are seeing the potential for Open Online courses to provide the recognition of achievement some participants might require. Some examples of such take up by Open Online course providers are the Peer-2-Peer University (P2PU), which Mozilla is working in conjunction with to deliver the School of Webcraft, and this very course Openness in Education.
There is the potential that other MOOCs might use the Open Badge infrastructure approach in the same way.