#JeSuisCharlie #OpenBadges

JeSuisCharlieI have lost friends whose irreverent cartoons contributed to forging my character and political views. Cabu and Wolinski were among the heros of my teenage years. Nothing was sacred to them, nothing but life! Their murder, the murder of an entire editorial board by bigots acting on behalf of a criminal organisation has transformed some of my  favourite cartoonists and economist (Bernard Maris) into another kind of heros: heros of democracy and free speech.

#JeSuisCharlie has been a tremendous response to those murders (17, including police force and simple citizens). My contribution to this movement is the creation of a different kind of Open Badge to state one’s commitment to democracy and free speech.

Je suis Charlie can be claimed using the link below:


Accreditation Assessment Competency Open Badges Recognition Standards Trust

#OpenBadges for Key Competencies

This post is an extract of a position paper, Key Competency Badges, a reflection based on the work done in the TRANSIt project in relation to the acquisition of key competencies.

How to combine Open Badges with key competencies? To what result? One way to approach this question is to recognise that key competencies are just one particular group of competencies, so what is good for the recognition of competencies in general, is likely to be just as good for key competencies. As there are already plenty of Open Badges used to recognise a large range of competencies, then it is just a matter of extending current practice.

What is implied with this approach is that Key Competency Open Badges will need key competency standards similar to the UK key skill 2000 introduced above. While it might seem unproblematic to define standards related to the mastery of mathematics and foreign languages, things might get more complicated with digital competencies and even more with the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship and social and civic competencies. For example, the French authorities decided to remove ‘entrepreneurship’ from the European key competency labelled “sense of initiative and entrepreneurship.” The French version is “autonomie et initiative” [5] (autonomy and initiative).

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ePortfolio Open Badges Personal Data Store

Open Passport: Reinventing the ePortfolio from Open Badges?

There are two possible approaches to connecting Open Badges with ePortfolios: assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation looks at Open Badges as a nice add-on to ePortfolios. This can be done by adding a plug-in to an existing piece of software. It is what “Moodle as issuer, Mahara as displayer” (link).

Accommodation requires much more than adding a simple plug-in, it should be about rethinking ePortfolios in light of what we have learned from Open Badges. We should start by asking questions such as: what can we do with Open Badges that was not possible with current ePortfolios? How should ePortfolios change in order to use the full power of Open Badges.


For example, while there have been calls for some time now to make better use of metadata in ePortfolios (or even simply usethem!), the beauty of Open Badges is that they are a pure set of metadata (an Open Badge is a picture into which metadata are ‘baked’). How could we use the information contained in Open Badges to generate ePortfolios out of them? Conversely, what would we need in an ePortfolio that we would like to find in Open Badges, for example the narrative that led to the attribution of a Badge. Could a collection of Badges allow the automatic creation of meta-narratives?

These are some of the questions the Badge Europe! initiative has decided to explore. And to give a name to this new kind of ePortfolio, we call it the Open Badges Passport, or Open Passport for short.

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Assessment ePortfolio Learning Technologies Open Badges

ePortfolios & Open Badges Maturity Matrix

July 2nd saw the first public presentation of  the ePortfolios & Open Badges Maturity Matrix, one of the outcomes of the Europortfolio initiative (www.europortfolio.org). This post reports some of the ideas that were presented during this webinar.

Why a Maturity Matrix?

A growing number of individuals and organisations are exploiting or planning to explore the benefits of ePortfolios and, more recently, Open Badges. What are the successful indicators of such an implementation? How does one implementation compare to another? What possible steps can be taken in order to improve current practices and technology?

While a number of reference documents have been published, in particular the very comprehensive guidelines from  JISC and the Australian ePortfolio Initiative, notwithstanding previous attempts at creating an ePortfolio maturity matrix, there is not yet a consensus, within the learning professional community, on what could constitute a maturity model of ePortfolios and Open Badges implementation.

The maturity model underpinning the ePortfolios & Open Badges Maturity Matrix aims at being inclusive, i.e. recognising what people and organisations are doing today, while providing a framework for future improvement, so that learning practitioners will be able to state: “this is where we are today, that is where we want to be next year.” The main function of the Maturity Matrix is to provide a tool to facilitate the dialogue with practitioners, leaders in education and decision makers. If you are an innovator and feel lonely in your institution, you can use the Matrix to engage in a dialogue with your colleagues, learning community and community of practice. If you are an education manager, you can use the Matrix to review and/or plan the changes required to support effective ePortfolio and Open Badge practice.

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ePortfolio Open Badges Trust

From ePortfolio to Open Badges – on the Individuation of Technical Objects


In 2004, during the second international ePortfolio conference (La Rochelle, France) a group of participants agreed to launch a campaign on the theme ePortfolio for all! Their objective was “by 2010, every citizen will have an ePortfolio!” 10 years later, despite a growing number of ePortfolio initiatives worldwide, we are still very far from achieving this goal.

This text is an attempt at exploring why the global adoption of Open Badges is likely to succeed and how it might feedback into ePortfolio technologies and practices. For that purpose, in the perspective of the genesis of technological objects, I draw a parallel with the evolution of computer technology from the early generation of computers to the advent of integrated circuits and computer chips (CPU, central processing units). The emergence of Open Badges will be analysed as a result of the evolution of ePortfolios, their concrétisation (reification). ePortfolios are more abstract, Open badges more concrete as the result of an individuation process.

While the genesis of technological objects and the process of individuation has been described with talent by philosophers like Gilbert Simondon and Bernard Stiegler, this post simply aims at inviting the members of the ePortfolio community to reflect on their practices and the possible futures for ePortfolio technologies.

On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects

In Du mode d’existence des objets techniques (On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, 1958) Gilbert Simondon describes the concrétisation of technical objects as the ability of objects to become more autonomous, self-regulated, in relation to the associated milieu in which they operate. This process has a corollary, abstraction, which is when an object becomes more dependent on its associated milieu, as is the case with a number of genetically modified organisms — e.g. induced sterility in order to control the crop market, regulations, etc.

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Assessment ePortfolio interoperability Learning Technologies LMS Open Badges Uncategorized

What have I learned from Moodle and Mahara?

I am currently working on a project (http://www.transit-project.eu/) the objective of which is to help secondary education teachers in developing the competencies they need to support the acquisition of key competencies of their pupils as defined by the Key Competences for Lifelong Learning Framework published by the European Commission. The course we are developing will be adapted to the different national contexts of the project partners.

The Key Competences framework comprises 8 key competencies:

  • Communication in the mother tongue
  • Communication in foreign languages
  • Mathematical, science and technology competencies
  • Digital competency
  • Learning to learn
  • Social and civic competencies
  • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
  • Cultural awareness and expression

I will detail in another post my criticism of this framework (which is like the wedding of the carp and the rabbit) but for now I will simply indicate that there is a much better and more properly structured framework developed by the Scottish government. It is called Curriculum for Excellence.

The Four Capacities —  the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence

The most obvious difference between the European and Scottish frameworks is the implicit vision of the individual: one is fragmented, the other holistic. The European Framework lists a set of skills, a kind of micro-curriculum organised in a series of subjects/disciplines — most of them are already taught in the current curricula. It is also extremely tame: one of the goal is not to create entrepreneurs, but simply to have a “sense of initiative and entrepreneurship!” While the European framework seems to be oblivious to the identity construction process, the Scottish framework clearly states that its goal is to produce successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. The skills are a means to achieving that high level goal, which means that teachers and communities are encouraged to develop their own curriculum (examples). The European Framework lists a minimal set of skills for the learners, the Curriculum for Excellence sets a global context for the reinvention and the co-creation of many curricula with all the members of learning community.

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Assessment Competency ePortfolio Open Badges Trust

Open Badges Unite! Connecting Open Badges through Evidence

Open Badges as Trust Relationship
Open Badges as Trust Relationship

One of my (many) interests in Open Badges is in relation to trust. Oblivious to Open Badges imagesI can’t help but see Open Badges as primarily a trust relationships between Open Badge issuers and Open Badge holders, or recipients. Trust is expressed through an assertion which is informed by a series of criteria and evidence, eventually represented by a pretty picture. The current implementation of Open Badges does not (yet) fully exploit the potential of  trust relationships: as the chain of trust is fragmented  (we cannot establish that A trusts B who trusts C who trusts…). Far from being learner centered, i.e. badge holder centered, the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) is badge issuer centered. What connects badges together are the badge issuers (one issuer can trust many recipients). The user-centeredness of Open Badges rests in the discourses and not (yet) in the technological infrastructure. OBI is asymmetrical, and the asymmetry, if not corrected, will ultimately profit the institutions, not the individuals, and favour the concentration of Open Badges services, like Credly, into the hands of a limited number of providers.

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ePortfolio Open Badges Quality

ePortfolios & Open Badges at the Service of Learning eQuality

Monday January 13th, I was invited to present how Open Badges and ePortfolios could contribute to the quality of learning at a seminar on quality in distance education organised by the FIED (Fédération Interuniversitaire de l’Education à Distance).

I took the opportunity develop further a reflection started  in 2007 with the publication of a green paper entitled From quality of eLearning to eQuality of learning (link). The objective was to explore an alternative path to the mechanistic, and too often trivial, approaches to quality and eLearning.

Quality as Learning

One of the questions raised in the green paper was:

What would the consequences be if we moved our reflection from quality of learning, to quality as learning?

In response, the green paper proposed:

to shift the focus from quality of eLearning to eQuality as learning, i.e. reflect on how digital technologies can provide support for improving all forms of learning – instruction and training, face to face, at a distance, or mixed, formal and informal, personal and organisational – making the quality process itself a personal and organisational experience.

ePortfolios & Open Badges to the Service of Learning Quality from Serge Ravet
(The presentation accessible on Slideshare has no sound, but the original presentation was recorded and will be soon available, in French)

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Assessment Employability ePortfolio Open Badges Trust

Punished by Open Badges?

Punished by Rewards Book CoverWhy Open Badges Could Either Kill or Cure Learning?

As many Open Badges supporters, and self-appointed ambassadors, I had absolutely no reservation regarding Open Badges: I saw them as the natural development of the work I did on ePortfolios as a means to support, recognise and celebrate learning and achievements: I envisioned Open Badges as a means to create an open and distributed ePortfolio architecture.

I saw no evil in Open Badges. That is, until I learned about Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes. As the book was written by Alfie Kohn in 1993, and revised in 1999, it does not address Open Badges. Yet, the book provides plenty of evidence from research eliciting the deleterious effects of extrinsic motivation on learning (and work), one of the most noxious legacies of B.F. Skinner, the psychologist described by Alfie Kohn as the one who “experimented with pigeons and wrote on people.”

This post is divided into 3 main parts:

  1. An exploration on the potential dangers of Open Badges practice (Open Badges as glorified gold stars) and infrastructure (asymmetry)
  2. An exploration of the potential benefits of Open Badges practice (Open Badges as distributed ePortfolios) and infrastructure (trust).
  3. What needs to be done ASAP[1] to minimise the risks and maximise the potential of Open Badges

One of the objectives of this post is to prepare the welcome of Alfie Kohn as keynote speaker at ePIC 2014. Shall Open Badges and ePortfolios pass the Alfie Kohn test? Whatever the results, his presence should contribute to raising key questions and possibly debunk some of the prejudices hidden in our practices.

In the Reference section of this post you will find some of the (very few) posts addressing the same issue as well as references to Alfie Kohn’s writings and public speaking.

Why Open Badges Could Kill the Desire to Learn?

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Competency Learning Technologies LMS OER

User Generated Contexts are COOLE!

We need to address the current asymmetry in the type of technologies developed for education: we have many teaching technologies (LMS, electronic whiteboards, OER, etc.) and substantially less authentic learning technologies. Evidence of this asymmetry, amongst others, is to be found in the fragmentation of the learning landscape and infrastructure, something obvious when a pupil moves from one school to another or when studying at different institutions. How can we put an end to this fragmentation? How can we create a truly Open Education Space (OES)? By making learners the designers, builders and operators of their learning environments, the authors of their learning contexts!

While, thanks to the rise of knowledge media, we now have many practices based on / leading to user generated contents, what we now need are technologies and practices leading to user generated contexts. Why not build digital learning environments based on the MineCraft paradigm, i.e. using a technology accessible to everybody? Why should Moodle and the like be left in the hands of the teaching high priests? The issue is not just to make Moodle more ‘open’ or to give students authoring accounts (to mimic what their teachers do?) but to create new tools, with which they would be empowered to design their own learning environments.

Make learners the architects of their co-constructed learning environment(s)! This is a very different view from the individualistic PLE, or the course-focused MOOC (prefixed with either a ‘c’ or an ‘x’). A User Generated Context should be more like a co-designed / co-constructed / co-operated open learning environment,  a self-generated learning context — autopoiesis.

I will christen this new object: COOLE (CO-constructed Open Learning Environment). Probably what we need for the development of an Open Education Space (OES), beyond institutional boundaries.


How to make learning COOLE?

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