The session on September 23th focussed on employers and badges. It started with the „Digital Badges“ YouTube video of CGI America 2013 (Clinton Global Initiative). After an intro from Anne Derryberry we heard Pamela Tate from CAEL and Jennifer McNelly from „The Manufacturing Institute“.
There was much discussion in the text chat and the session was very interesting for me, as I hadn’t heard about either organization before. The video was about a commitment announcement for digital badges and Bill Clinton supporting digital badges saying that „we must embrace a more modern and comprehensive credentialling system“.
Anne Derryberry suggested that employers are in the very early phase of early adopters regarding badges. Employers were said to have difficulty filling jobs and to identify qualified new hires – could badges be an answer for this?
CAEL’s (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) vision was cited as „Meaningful learning, credentials and work for every adult“ and Pamela Tate spoke about badges as microcredentials, „LearningCounts“ portfolios as a platform of choice for badges, the employer lens (recruitment, retention, mobility, engagement of employees) and Prior Learning Assessment for filling the skills gap: We should ask ourselves what employers would find useful and how we can bring together the options which are already there. „If employers don’t accept them and they don’t help people get better jobs, then will people use these on a widespread basis?“ „Someone has to certify that you know it and it has to matter to somebody“. I can agree to that.
We got many literature links – some of them I put in the Delicious-Account. I was very impressed by the article „Genealogy of Badges“ by Alex Halavais – „badge“ may be a term with a whole lot of different meanings when you talk about it with different people. I also read some Higher Ed articles, but I don’t feel that it was what I was looking for.
Instead I focussed on something else. We heard a lot about the advantages of badges for learners until now, and I was curious how you could show your badges to others once you had earned them. So I created an account at mozilla backpack and tried to upload some badges I’d earned in a prior MOOC. I was lucky that I still had access to the prior MOOC platform and could download the badges (because at the time I didn’t pay much attention to badges and didn’t even download them). Once I uploaded them on mozilla backpack and put one in a collection to share (example 1), I was suprised that the website gave no sign of my name and I had to write instead something meaningful after clicking on „Edit this page“. So far so good. You could click on the criteria or evidence link and still didn’t get the information of my name. When I talked about badges with a colleague of mine the next day, he told me that my badge png file which was shown on the page contained kind of sensitive personal information which you could easily access just by putting the png file in the Windows text editor. And finally there was my name in it. Therefore, I got the strange feeling that normally you wouldn’t know what’s in the badge you’ve earned because the mozilla backpack display doesn’t offer this information but that everyone could download just the png and easily look into the complex metadata. The badges I’d tested were technically issued via a Moodle platform and I was curious if other badges looked and behaved differently.
My colleague told me of an easy way to get a badge for reading a paper about open badges and so I tried this one. This was totally different because I couldn’t download a png but just put it in my backpack via the issuing server. This png file didn’t contain any metadata, at least not in the image file (example 2).
Today I started as a participant in a German management MOOC and all the participants who had enrolled got a participant badge we could download as a png file. I was glad to have another test object, but then I was surprised that mozilla backpack didn’t accept it and instead gave the error message „Image does not have any baked in data.“ (so there is no example 3)
My tests with only three different badge issuers and three totally different results (which were all not so satisfying) left me with the first impression that there is much work to do.
When I logged into the Open Badges MOOC platform some minutes ago, I saw a new announcement about getting help with making badges and something about participant badges (another test object for me?) – this could be interesting. And I’ve still got to write my first forum entry. After I had realized that the badge challenge acitivities were beyond me (as I haven’t plans to implement a badge system) and on the other hand I knew too little about badges to write forum posts, I missed writing something in each of my group introduction forums. So that’s one task for tomorrow.
I am very interested in different kinds of MOOC platforms and MOOC course designs. Right now, I joined a MOOC on Blackboard’s Coursesites platform which goes by the title „Badges: New Currency for Professional Credentials„. For me, there is an obvious link between the topics badges and moocs and voilà, in this MOOC there is one discussion group regarding the aspect „Badges for MOOCs“. Two discussion groups are about Higher Ed and six other discussion groups cover aspects like „Badges in Museums, Galleries and Heritage Centres“, „Badges for Corporate Training and Professional Development“, „Badges AI“, „Badges for Government Entities“, „Badges for Military Use and Veterans“, „Mozilla Open Badges Initiative“ .
Yesterday 8 p.m. local time, there was the first live session with much input from Erin Knight, a very good YouTube video „What is a badge“ and a lot of chat in Blackboard Collaborate and via Twitter. About 270 participants max. were there, which I found to be an impressing number (at the time about 1200 participants had registered in the MOOC).
Some literature tips were already there before yesterday, but I think the course structuring with the weekly topics „Openness, Badge Fundamentals, Employers, Learning Providers, Learners, Opportunites“ was recent as I hadn’t seen it before yesterday evening (but maybe I simply didn’t notice it until then). The 6 topic areas will correspond to the 6 live sessions which will be recorded.
The course activities part I have yet to have a look at, especially the „Badge Challenge Assignments“ and I have further reading to do (some of the links I’ll put on my Delicious-Account). Of course there will be the discussions – I don’t know yet, how much time I’ll have for them. My goals in this MOOC mostly are as the course designers put it in the course description as a possible option number 2 „Those who need to report back to their organizations about what badges are, how they work, and what opportunities they present„.
Hopefully, the platform will be a little faster in the next weeks as the web sites were really slow until yesterday. By the way, there was also a survey „getting to know you“ which I didn’t find really anonymous when you ask the participants for the name of their institution and their role within, but it really is a good idea to ask what their goals are within the course and if there are experiences with badges.