Open Badges are the current trending proposal as “common currency” to define skills, competencies and achievements. They are usually issued against an evidence: something that the learner has done that proves his or her skill / competency / achievement.
Technological developments offer many dynamic, engaging and personalized ways of building and delivering learning. In today’s learning environment, learning evidences can happen anywhere, and most of the times it does not happen on a traditional elearning platform, but on blogs, forums, mobile apps, social media and so on.
The xAPI (experience API) standard aims at opening up the way learning experiences can be captured, stored and used. With xAPI any system can express a learning experience through a statement describing how a learner (the subject) has performed an action (the verb, e.g. answered), with reference to an object (e.g. questionnaire). Statements are captured in xAPI format and stored in a Learning Record Store that acts as a specialized database for xAPI data generated by different systems (LMS, apps, blogs, forums…), the activity providers.
Bestr is the italian platform leveraging Open Badges to represent skills and competencies and highlight their proper value in order to allow learner to better express their professional richness and thus contribute in bridging the skills gap between skills required by employers and those highlighted by formal study paths. It is crucial in this frame that any learning experience and evidence may be tracked and used to support the issuing of an Open Badge.
Bestr has its own Learning Record Store and is capable of collecting xAPI statements from any platform integrated with it. Criteria for issuing Open Badges in Bestr are defined according to verbs and objects of learning statements which the learner must accomplish in order to gain a specific Badge. When the platform identifies that a set of statements for a given subject (the learner) is matching the criteria required for a Badge, the Badge is issued to the learner. Having obtained a Badge is, in turn, a new learning statement – a new learning achievement – which could be used as starting point for issuing a new Badge.
The Bestr ecosystem includes a Moodle-based Learning Management System, capable of expressing learning statements via the Logstore xAPI Module, whose development has also seen Cineca’s contribution. The same module is used by Eduopen LMS: an independent consortium of 15 universities offering open learning resources: the completion of a course on Eduopen triggers the issuing of a Badge on Bestr thanks to the xAPI based integration. Other activity providers for Bestr’s LRS that are being set up are the most used Italian student information system – ESSE3 – which could provide learning statements corresponding to any learning activity, and NICE (the italian network of test centers), which could provide learning statements whenever a student passes a computer based test in one of the centers.
Last but not least, Bestr’s Learning Record Store is – as required by LRS specifications – open for interaction with other LRS’s: statements stored in another LRS could be used together with the ones stored in Bestr’s to determine whether a student deserves a Badge, and viceversa.