[The first idea for a title was: User-Driven Badges vs User-Driven ePortfolios.]
Yesterday, during the Open Badges weekly meeting (link), Patrick McGee (1) from The Volunteer Centre Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde’s presented Do A Bit, a project using Mozilla Open Badges, in conjunction with a volunteer passport, to increase participation in volunteering and to reward participants (2).
One particular element of the strategy stroke my attention: volunteers are invited to tell what skills they would like to be recognised with an Open Badge. It is not the organisation that is deciding what are the badges worth delivering, but the participants deciding on which badges they would like to have designed, just for them.
Although this is very much in line with a presentation I attended some time ago where teachers were inviting students to establish together their badges awarding criteria [I need to add a reference!], this made me ask the following question: could something like that have happened with ePortfolios? After all, aren’t ePortfolios, like Open Badges, designed for making learning visible to others and oneself – reflective learning? At that point of my reflection, the answer is… probably not…
This post is a first attempt at explaining why, although ePortfolios and Open Badges are supposed to be user-centric, Open Badges have a greater potential to be user-driven, than ePortfolios.
My ePortfolio, our Badge
One of the main differences I see between ePortfolios and Open Badges is the social dimension. Collective ePortfolios remain a rarity, a good theme for an inspirational keynote address at a conference! Yet, when reflecting on the dialectic between individual and collective ePortfolios, one can ask whether:
- a collective ePortfolio is an aggregation of individual ePortfolios, or
- the individual ePortfolio is a projection, on the individual plan, of a collective ePortfolio?
There is probably no such thing as a personal narrative that is not deeply intertwined with other people’s narratives. The interweaving of our stories are like the threads of a social fabric. Yet the technologies developed for ePortfolios lead to the creation of personal silos of information where the natural interweaving of our narratives is fragmented. We have lost the opportunity of presenting the threads of our narratives in the context of a rich, dense and colourful fabric (a possible variation of T. S. Eliot’s Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?). And from that point of view, there is certainly no advantage in using an ePortfolio platform over a simple blog system — ePortfolio platforms remain still useful for institutions (that are mostly silos!).