22 SES 05 B, Interactive Poster Session
Digital badges, or more specifically Open Badges (OBs) are an important technology for teaching and assessing soft skills. At their most basic level, digital badges are a new way to capture and communicate what an individual knows and can demonstrate. Badges can represent different levels of work and engagement, including more granular, specific skills or achievements. They hold particular promise for certifying different skills of learners at different levels of education. The certified skills would be valued in a workplace setting if a mechanism for certifying was available (Finkelstein et al., 2013). The whole OB movement arised from the independent learning and massive open online course (i.e. MOOC) frameworks of empowering and motivating learners to complete non-credit academic work (Reid and Paster, 2013).
OBs allow learners to verify their skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations. They are based on an open technical standard, called Open Badge Infrastructure, or OBI (Mozilla Open Badges, 2012). Thanks to OBI, earners can combine multiple OBs from different issuers, display them on the Web, and share them for employment, education or lifelong learning. OBs can be a good motivational mechanism, as they can be awarded for the improvement that learners make or for their performance. OBs standard has been implemented by many organizations, educational and/or non-profit, including education-technology providers. So, they become the best solution for recognition the formal and non-formal learning outcomes.
OBs are a credentialing system. A badge is a mechanism to communicate a set of skills and knowledge gained, like a certain certificate, diploma, degree or transcript (Bembeneck, 2011). Badges might be useful in self-directing learning and they allow continuous tracking what learner has been learned. They also help learners to discover a new opportunities in learning (Hickey et al., 2013). One of the major concerns is related to the validity and credibility of an OB. The main questions are who should be able to issue and award badges, should the system be open, and should the entities conferring badges be certified? Furthermore, a related concern is about the interpretation of the meaning of a badge, i.e. what the earned badge actually says about a learner (Nelson, 2012).
OBs from different issuers might be based on divergent understandings of what soft skills mean and how they should be measured. Therefore, there is a need for consistency in the definition of knowledge, skills or competences that a badge stands to represent. In addition, the criteria for achieving an OB have to be consistently applied, so that the same badge is issued for comparable levels of effort, achievement or ability.
The EU LLP GRASS project develops innovative pedagogical approaches and ICT tools and services to support continuous development, measurement, assessment, grading and recognition of learners’ soft skills using OBs. It also monitors the accumulation of one’s soft skills, on the long run, in their own ecosystem. This project embeds measurement and recognition of soft skills, competencies, and achievements in educational practices at all educational levels. Through this project, the intention is to make a contribution to less formal and more flexible recognition and credentialing system, and also to stimulate highly qualified individuals and organizations to put their efforts in adopting this kind of skills recognition (GRASS Project, 2014).
Bembeneck, E. (2011). “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Badge,” Ada Play. (September 16). Retrieved on September 21, 2015 at http://adaplay.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/bibbidi-bobbidi-badge/ Devedzic, V., Jovanovic, J., Tomic, B., Sevarac, Z., Milikic, N., Dimitrijevic, S., Đuric, D. (2015). Grading Soft Skills with Open Badges, In: D. Hickey, J. Jovanovic, S. Lonn, J.E. Willis, III (eds.): Proceedings of the Open Badges in Education (OBIE 2015) Workshop, Poughkeepsie, New York, USA, 16-Mar-2015, published at http://ceur-ws.org. Finkelstein, J., Knight, E., Manning, S. (2013). The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners - DRAFT for Public Comment, Retrieved on October 15, 2015 athttps://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/AIR_Digital_Badge_Report_508.pdf GRASS Project (2014). Project description, https://sites.google.com/site/llpgrassproject/project-description Hickey, D., Itow, R., Schenke, K., Tran, C., Otto, N., Chow, C. (2013). Badges Design Principles Documentation Project. Interim Report, November 2013. Mozilla Open Badges (2012). Badges/Onboarding-Issuer. Retrieved April 25, 2015 at https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges/Onboarding-Issuer#A._Mozilla_Open_Badge_Infrastructure_.28OBI.29 Nelson, S. (2011). Comment to: Unpacking Badges for Lifelong Learning, by Grant, S. HASTAC. Retrieved on Octember 10, 2015 at http://hastac.org/blogs/slgrant/2011/09/25/unpacking-badges-lifelong-learning Reid, A. and Paster, D. (2013). Digital Badges in the Classroom, Retrieved on September 5, 2015 at https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2013/10/11/how-use-digital-badges-help-your-classroom-teaching-essay
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