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?
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?
(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?”
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