Alternative Credentials: How Can Higher Education Organizations Leverage Open Badges?
Badges are a mechanism to award ‘micro-credits’ online. They are awarded by an organization for an individual user, and can be either internal to a website or online community, or use open standards and shared repositories.
In open online learning settings, badges are used to provide incentives for individuals to use our resources and to participate in discussion threads.
The IBM skills gateway is an example of how open badges can be leveraged to document professional development. EDUCAUSE microcredentialing program offers 108 digital badges in five categories (community service, expertise development, presentation and facilitation, leadership development, awards).
Open Badge Initiative and “Digital Badges for Lifelong Learning” became the theme of the fourth Digital Meaning & Learning competition, in which over 30 innovative badge systems and 10 research studies received over $5 million in funding between 2012 and 2013.
Standardization is the key to creating transferability and recognition across contexts
In 2018, the new Open Badges 2.0 standard was released under the stewardship of IMS Global Learning Consortium.
badges awarded for participation are valued less meaningful than skill-based badges. For skill-based badges, evidence of mastery must be associated with the badge along with the evaluation criteria. Having a clear purpose, ensuring transferability, and specifying learning objectives were noted by the interviewees as the top priorities when implementing badge offerings in higher education contexts.
Sheryl Grant is a senior researcher on user experience at OpenWorks Group, a company that focuses on supporting educational web applications and mobile tools, including credentialing services. Prior to her current position, Dr. Grant was Director of Alternative Credentialing and Badge Research at HASTAC. She was part of the team that organized the ‘Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition’.
advice o offer for the design and implementation of digital badges. She stressed that badge systems need to be designed in a participatory manner together with the target audience who is supposed to receive them. This will allow for fair, realistic and transparent criteria. Another crucial aspect is the assessment portion: Who will make verify that the badge credentials are issued correctly? While badges can offer additional motivation, they can also diminish motivation and create a ‘race to the bottom’ if they are obtained too easily. Specifically, Dr. Grant advised to use badges to reward exceptional activities, and acknowledge students who want to go above and beyond. She also gave guidelines on when to avoid issuing badges, i.e., activities that are already graded and activities that are required.
All current UNC badging pilots used the platform cred.ly for issuing badges. An alternative is the Mozilla Open Badge backpack follow-up Badgr. The European platform Badgecraft is another repository with a fairly broad user base. The badge wiki project offers a comprehensive list with implementation details for each platform: Badge Platforms (Badge Wiki). (23 platforms)
Designing Effective Digital Badges (https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Effective-Digital-Badges-Applications/dp/1138306134) is a hands-on guide to the principles, implementation, and assessment of digital badging systems. Informed by the fundamental concepts and research-based characteristics of effective badge design, this book uses real-world examples to convey the advantages and challenges of badging and showcases its application across a variety of contexts.
more on microcred in this IMS blog