Open Badges Standards

The Celestial Emporium of #OpenBadges Taxonomies

taxodermy

In a previous post (Over 2 millions of badge types…) I explored the typology of Open Badges and the idea of a taxonomy to conclude to the inanity of any attempt at enumerating the different types of Open Badges.

Recently, while discussing with a colleague the ideas developed in this previous post, she reminded me of the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, a fictitious taxonomy of animals described by Jorge Luis Borges in his 1942 essay “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins.” Borges used this taxonomy to illustrate the arbitrariness and cultural specificity of any attempt at categorising the world.

Taken from an ancient (fictitious) Chinese encyclopaedia, The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge divides all animals into 14 categories:

  1. Those that belong to the emperor
  2. Embalmed ones
  3. Those that are trained
  4. Suckling pigs
  5. Mermaids (or Sirens)
  6. Fabulous ones
  7. Stray dogs
  8. Those that are included in this classification
  9. Those that tremble as if they were mad
  10. Innumerable ones
  11. Those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush
  12. Et cetera
  13. Those that have just broken the flower vase
  14. Those that, at a distance, resemble flies

Reading this taxonomy I wondered how it could be translated into the realm of Open Badges. The result is Open Badge Taxonomy #1.

Open Badge Taxonomy #1 (directly inspired by The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge):

  1. Those issued by someone with more than 5,000 Linkedin connections
  2. The revoked ones
  3. Those related to formal training
  4. Those that have never been issued
  5. Marine-related ones
  6. Those earned by only 10 people in the whole world
  7. Those that were erased from the backpack at Christmas time
  8. Those included in this classification
  9. Those with an animated PNG
  10. Those that cannot be counted
  11. Those which picture has been hand drawn
  12. Et cetera
  13. Those that cannot be uploaded in the Backpack
  14. Those that, at a distance, resemble nothing special

After this first attempt, I wondered whether I could create more of them, let’s say “the behaviourist Open Badge taxonomy,”  and “the constructivist Open Badge taxonomy.” The combination of both gave Taxonomy #2.

Open Badge Taxonomy #2 (the behaviourist-constructivist Open Badge Taxonomy):

  • Those issued by those who believe in the need for controlling others
    • Those issued by those who believe that studying pigeons provides an insight into the human mind
      • Those issued by those who believe in behaviourist theories
        • Those issued by those who believe in the need for doggy biscuits and praise for motivating learners
      • Those issued by those who believe in gamification
      • Those issued by those who think that Open Badges are more ‘chic’ than gold stars
    • Those issued by those who believe that Open Badges should be ‘quality assured’
  • Those issued by those who believe in the need to empower others
    • Those issued by those who believe that only idiots can believe that studying pigeons can provide any insight into the human mind
      • Those issued by those who like to ridicule behaviourist beliefs

Although rather self-indulgent, this taxonomy is perfectly operational to organise the knowledge on Open Badges. Looking at power relationships is a-priori not less valid than any other classification. In the opinion of the author of this post, differentiating between the different ‘types’ of Open Badges, trust vs. distrust, is probably the only valuable taxonomy, if one is needed. read more »

Accreditation Competency Employability Identity Open Badges

#OpenBadges – Micro-credentials: what can we learn from micro-credits?

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Are micro-credentials a disruptive innovation, just as micro-credits (micro-loans) were thought to be a few years ago? To answer this question we should first find out what can be qualified as a disruptive innovation? According to Wikipedia:

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

Open Badges are creating a new market, the market of Open Credentials (micro-credentials are just one type of Open Credentials) and establishing a new currency, or more precisely reinvigorating one of the oldest currencies ever: trust.

Trust has many properties. First, it’s free and when offered, it enriches both the giver and the recipient. And when the recipients of trust get richer (with trust), their increased wealth can trickle back to those who initiallyoffered their trust. While it might still need the philosophers’ stone (link) to be transmuted into gold, trust can nevertheless be transformed into real cash as one experiences when applying for a loan. Con artists and banks* also know how to make cash out of trust!

For the poorest, things are different. One of the few assets they cannot be totally deprived of is trust. Thanks to the Nobel Prize winning Grameen Bank (link) founded by Muhammad Yunus, they now have the power to convert trust into micro-loans.

Grameen Bank is owned by the borrowers and it is based on trust. It does not require any collateral from its borrowers. Since the bank does not wish to take any borrower to the court of law in case of non-repayment, it does not require the borrowers to sign any legal instrument.

Were micro-credits transformative?

What lessons could the Open Badge practitioners learn from the Grameen Bank and the many micro-credit organisations that have been spawned since its creation? Can we draw a parallel between micro-credits and micro-credentials in terms of empowerment and potential social transformation? Could Open Badges create the conditions for the emergence of a new economy?

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Digital Identity eSelf Identity Internet of Subjects Open Badges Personal Data Store Trust

OpenBadges: The Deleterious Effects of Mistaking Security for Trust

What is the relationship between trust and security, security and privacy, privacy and personal data protection? For some time now, I knew that there was something wrong with the so-called trust technologies, but I did not take the time to pin down what the source of the problem was. Apart from rechristening them as distrust technologies, I did not make the effort to explore any further the matter. Here are two excerpts from previous posts:

Is there an escape from an alternative that can only lead to an escalation in the development of distrust technologies? in Why Open Badges Could Kill the Desire to Learn?

One of the most interesting and undervalued features of the Open Badge Infrastructure is trust: I have commented before that there is a risk for the Open Badges’ pretty pictures to become what the proverbial tree is to the forest of trust. I’ve also written that OBI is a native trust infrastructure, while most of the so-called trust architectures would be better described as distrust architectures (in a native trust environment, trust is by default, while distrust is generated by experience; in a distrust environment distrust is by default while trust is generated by experience). in Punished by Open Badges?

Designing Principles for a (dis)Trusted Environment

What brought me to explore further the issue of trust and security was the participation at a workshop organised by the Aspen Institute at SXSWedu 2015. The participants were invited to produce a series of scenarios eliciting the design principles of a trusted [digital] environment. The workshop took place the day following a session on “Designing Principles for a Trusted Environment” during which the winners of the DML Trust Challenge were announced.

While the challenge we were invited to address was the design of a trusted environment what struck me in most of the proposed scenarios was that they did exactly the opposite: they designed an environment where distrust was the founding principle. The designing principles for a distrusted environment were:

If you have a problem with trust the solution is increased control and security measures.

While this principle might sound fine to the superficial reader, the problem is that it reveals a misconception of what trust is about and, consequently, on how to deal with situations where low levels of trust are an issue. While both trust and security are related to safety, they are at the two ends of a spectrum.

While one can take security measures, send security forces, one cannot take trust measures and send trust forces. Security is something you can do to things, trust is something you can only get from within. Mistaking one for the other, trust for security, could (and generally does) have deleterious effects on trust.

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ePortfolio LMS Open Badges

A Cure Against OBesity: The One Pixel #OpenBadges , #OpenPassport and #xAPI

While my experience with competency-based education initially led me to think that we should only get badges for “serious stuff” like the demonstration of a mastery, or possibly a competency (although this could lead to fragmented learning and assessment, and that will be the subject of another post), I have changed my position some time ago. I believe that it is perfectly adequate to deliver a badge for less”serious stuff,” like attending a conference.

A conference’s badge could be given to all the participants without any distinction, there could also be special badges for speakers and organisers. Badges for speakers and organisers could be delivered by the participants. In fact, rather than new badges created specifically for one event, they could be endorsement badges, i.e. endorsing a badge already owned by the authors and organisers.

There are other interesting benefits in delivering badges at a conference; one service that will be built on top of the Open Badge Passport is the ability for someone holding a certain badge to communicate with all the other holders of the same badge. Open Badges will behave like mailing lists. This will provide an easy way for the holders of the same badge (or same pattern in a collection ) to establish conversations without having to disclose any personal identifier. Of course, it will be easy to opt-out at the time the badge is collected in the passport — and to opt-in later.

Should everything be badged?

Carpet Baddging

Since I realised that Open Badges are statements of trust, to those querying whether having too many badges might be a problem, my response is: who would complain for receiving too many tokens of trust? 

Yet, while I changed my position regarding the quality and quantity of badges (sometimes the change in quantity can lead to the emergence of new qualities) I am still not satisfied with the fact that Open Badges are being delivered for almost anything, like visiting a website or answering correctly to a multiple choice question.

It is now so easy to issue badges that we can witness “Carpet Badging,” a term coined by Kyle Bowen (@kyledbowen) in 2013! The issue Kyle raised was about the importance of metadata. While there is certainly an issue with badly defined or poor metadata, may be the problem lays elsewhere. May be poor medata is a sign that Open Badges were not the right answer in the first place?

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Open Badges Quality Standards

Over 2 Millions Types of #OpenBadges ! Don’t you think that’s wonderful?

(I should probably add the subtitle: And less than 10 types of ePortfolios!)

One of Badge Europe‘s intellectual outputs (yuck! I can’t use this “concept” without cringing!) is a discussion paper on quality and Open Badges.

Intellectual Output: a term contributed to the Newspeak Dictionary edited by the European Commission, to replace deliverable, a perfectly decent and understandable term, as if any deliverable did not involve some kind of intellectual effort, implying therefore that the work produced by previous European projects could be partly the result of machines, automata or idiots — I won’t comment on the last one!

This discussion paper on quality and Open Badges should raise a number of interesting issues that I addressed in a previous post (ePortfolios & Open Badges at the Service of Learning eQuality) which refers to a presentation I made last year at a meeting of the Fédération Interuniversitaire de l’Enseignement à Distance (FIED).

One of the problems I have with frameworks such as “quality in eLearning” is that they tend to convey the message that it is possible to have such a thing as “good eLearning” on top of poor or archaic models. They do not use quality as a transformative force, but rather as a normative model, and extension of the old model, stifling innovation and creativity.

In the discussion paper, one of the risks is the mechanistic application of traditional quality models to the Open Badge ecosystem. And if there is something we do not need it is any kind of “quality framework” that would curb or smother the innovation born out of Open Badges. If Open Badges are not used to transform education, social inclusion and employment, then who cares for their “quality?”

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ePortfolio Identity Open Badges

#OpenBadges best friends to #ePortfolio practitioners best foes to ePortfolio platforms?

Kate Coleman’s (@kateycoleman) has opened a discussion on “ePortfolios and OpenBadges – friends or foes?” (link). Here is my attempted response to her question.

Open Badges best friends to ePortfolio practitioners and best foes to ePortfolio platforms? Let’s face it: the ePortfolio platforms of today are not that different from those that existed 10 years ago and many ePortfolios do not use any dedicated ePortfolio platform. If ePortfolio platforms want to keep up with innovation they will have to do much better than adding a layer of Open Badges; they might want to reinvent themselves from Open Badges.

Open Badges will facilitate the building of rich, trustworthy ePortfolios. We will be able to create truly “open ePortfolios” — one should note that there is a significant difference between using an “open source” eportfolio system and creating “open eportfolios.” With Open Badges, ePortfolios won’t be simply “open” they will also be “distributed” and “shared” and it is these qualities that will contribute to making them “trustworthy.”

Eventually we could describe the difference between Open Badges and ePortfolios as the difference between identity as self-narrative (ePortfolios) and identity through others (Open Badges).

In a presentation I gave in 2009 on “ePortfolio, the engine for learning communities” I presented ePortfolios as “the threads of the social fabric constructing our identity.”

Due to the siloed nature of current ePortfolios, this didn’t happen. With Open Badges, things are slightly different: no more silos and many threads, the threads of Open Badges feeding our interwoven networks of trust.

If I had to revise the 2009 presentation, it would be:

Open Badges: the substance from which are made the threads of the social fabric constructing our identities

Open Badges

#OpenBadges: Beyond Spray and Pray!

The current Open Badge process looks very much like spray and pray: badges issuers spray badges then pray that they will be collected —in many instances less than 20% of earners push them to their backpack. Badges earners spray (some of) their badges on the web then pray to get some kind of feedback or value. Badge designers, issuers and earners pray that badge consumers will be able to make sense of the (pretty) pictures embedding the metadata.

If we had to describe Open Badges as a market, it would be qualified as a supply-led market, not a demand-led one. A supply-led market is dominated by producers pushing goods to consumers, enticing them to buy through marketing campaigns. It is what the #BadgeTheWorld and @BadgeEurope could become, and will not!

What would a demand-led Open Badge market look like? What would the benefits be in moving from a model where badges are primarily pushed onto people, to one where badges are pulled from them, with their active participation?

There are two ways to think in terms of demand-led: one of them is to invite the potential clients to tell suppliers what kind of goods and services they would like to receive. This might look like demand-led, while it is just a patronising version of supplier-led. Another model is based on the emergence of the prosumer, a term coined by Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave (1980): as society moves toward the Post-Industrial Age, so will the number of pure consumers decline. They will be replaced by “prosumers,” people who produce many of their own goods and services (Philip Kotler source). The read-write web, the fablabs, the webmakers, the regain of interest in cooperatives, are evidence of the emergence of the prosumer. We just don’t want to be adjusted to the market, we want to decide how the market should be. It is for the market to adapt to us and not the other way around.

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Open Badges

No #OpenBadges, please, don’t spoil my pleasure!

During the planning meeting of #badgetheworld panel at SXSWedu, Dame Kate Coleman (@kateycoleman) mentioned the case of a person (let’s call him Tom) who refused to collect the “programmer badges” he earned, responding that programming was a pleasure and he did not want to have his pleasure spoiled by badges. Then I went to my backlog of mails and discovered a message from Niel, an Irish colleague, pointing to a post with the title: We need more stinkin’ badges (or, how to increase student participation without using grades as a reward) (link). As the author explains, the title comes from a quote that has been used in at least three different movies (most famously in Blazing Saddles in 1974) where the lawmen are asked for their badges, to which they respond, “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

My very first reaction when I heard the story of someone refusing to have his pleasure spoiled by badges was: this guy deserves a badge! We should even create a badge for all the Toms of the world! Later, when I read the post on Badges? We need no stinkin’ badges! I thought, we need to create a badge to celebrate all those who will have the guts to say Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges! Both badges would complete my collection of reflective rebel’s badges.

My guess is that the people who issued the badges refused by Tom would agree with the author of We need more stinkin’ badges when he writes: “Badges are a reward, and doesn’t everyone want something to show for the work they did?”

There are many good reasons to refuse rewards or any form of external incentive. Grades, rewards, awards, praise create an asymmetrical situation where one of the parties is (tries to be) in control of the other. The student motivated by grades is not different from the drug addict in search of a fix. The author goes on lamenting the fact that unfortunately, some students are not motivated by grades (read, they don’t want to buy my poison).

Contrary to the author, I would say: “fortunately, some students are not motivated by grades,” when it is based on the refusal to be controlled like pets (“good dog, here is a piece of sugar”) or crack addicts. The fortunate ones are the strongest and most brilliant. They are in a position to treat grades with disdain. Unfortunately, there are also all those who are the victims of the deleterious effects of grades, rewards, awards and praise.

Alas, the (too many) badges based on the (false) assumption that they can create motivation are nothing more than glorified digital gold stars. And we certainly don’t need no stinkin’ digital gold star!

So, if Open Badges should not be used for extrinsic motivation, what could they be used for? How about exploring intrinsic motivation? What would badges solely based on intrinsic motivation look like? How about moving from a model where badges are primarily pushed to people, mainly by institutions, to a model where they are pulled from people, not just designed and issued for them, but designed and issued with and by them?

On motivation and badges, read @timothyfcook “A Badge Won’t Make Me Care” (link) and “Unpacking Badges for Lifelong Learning” (link)

Open Badges

Why the #OpenBadges infrastructure is not, and should not be “learner-centred”

To those who still believe that Open Badges are learner/earner centred, just have a look at one of the slides of a presentation Nate Otto and I gave at OpenEd 2014. I’ll repeat it ad nauseam until we have fixed this issue, but the current Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) is 100% centred on the issuer. As the vast majority of issuers are organisations the truth is that Open Badges are organisation-centred. Anybody pretending that Open Badges are learner-centred tells a fallacy, unless their idea of centredness  is that of a firing squad — the only difference being that the person at that centre doesn’t have the option to put the bullet in their backpack!

Is this Learner-Centred????? (I= issuer, E= Earner)

Is the the current issuer-centredness a defect that could be corrected by making the Open Badge Infrastructure more earner-centred? Is it the centre we should aim for? Or should we aim for multiple centres or no centre at all?

While there is no technical reason for keeping apart the functions associated to issuing and earning badges (even in the mercantile world of eBay, everybody is a buyer and a seller) it would be very interesting to look back and understand why, in the world of education, it was decided that there shall be issuers, there shall be earners, there shall be consumers, but they shall not mix. Maybe the answer is in the question: the world of education is an asymmetrical world, where power is unevenly distributed, it should not therefore come as a surprise that technologies embody those existing power structures.

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Open Badges

Endorsement: an #OpenBadges paradigm shift, thanks to @ottonomy

Thanks to Nate Otto (@ottonomy) an extension for endorsement of Open Badges is currently under review (link). I would like to explain why this ‘extension’ is much more than a simple add-on to an existing specification but a breakthrough, an invitation to a paradigm shift (yes, nothing less Nate!)

The proposed extension is the outcome of the discussions (link) in the Badge Alliance Endorsement Working Group (link) lead by Deb Everhart (@ariadne4444). A collaborative document was produced to capture our work (link).

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