More than three decades ago, I started a journey exploring how technologies could contribute to making one’s competencies more visible, especially for those who didn’t have the chance to receive a formal qualification. Started in the world of formal1 education this journey led me to pay increasing attention to the informal world in which we spend most of our life (including during our schooling years!).
After discovering the competency portfolio2 I became actively engaged in the work on ePortfolios (that led to many European projects and conferences) and, more recently, Open Badges. While the “normal” trajectory should have led to my becoming an ardent defender of “competency badges”, it did not go that way. Quite the opposite in fact: from my positive experience with competency-based education and qualifications, I also learned that these are far from flawless, not primarily because of “the human factor”, but from the implicit message they convey: only formal recognition has value, that which is not formally recognised has little or no value.
In focusing our attention initially on competency badges we were shifting to another level the problem Open Badges were designed to solve, i.e. making informal learning visible. Initially, 99.99% of the time Open Badges were being used to formally recognise informal learning and competency badges sold like hot cakes. What Open Badges also had to offer, and was neglected at the time, is their potential to make informal recognition visible: if probably over 90% of our learning is informal, then, for sure, 99.99% of all recognitions are also informal—cue: the recognition by an employer of a formal qualification is informal!— and not visible.
This is what in 2016 led to the authoring of the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration and today’s article.Continue reading