Opening Up Professional Learning in Associations with Open Badges
Learning Agents, Canada
Old ways of delivering and recognizing learning are not meeting our social and economic needs today. The degrees and diplomas of formal education can’t keep up with rapidly changing technologies, changing occupations and increasingly mobile workforces. Students and their parents rack up often massive debt to earn multi-year diplomas and degrees toward building careers, only to find that employers are more interested in finding out what they know and can do for them *now*, rather than what academic credential they hold, which may already be partially obsolete. Their credentials may represent signficant knowledge and robust soft skills, but the documentation is typically static, opaque and unhelpful. Even aside from the growing problem of grade inflation, diplomas are all too often just "paper siloes" that progressively lose relevance rather than build value over time.
And then there is the fact that most of our learning takes place outside of the classroom, as we grow and learn to solve issues in the workplace and across our lives, whether alone or with others. This is the 70:20:10 principle, with formal learning representing the smallest portion. People talk of building "T-shaped professionals", whose deep knowledge of particular subjects is supported by broader soft skills that help apply and build their specialties. The problem is that valuable applied, experiential and social learning is often patchy and poorly recognized.
Associations permeate our society, supporting professions, industries or other specific interests with collaborative solutions to building knowledge, developing skills and maintaining communities of practice. By their very nature, associations are social and experiential. They represent a hugely un-advertised solution to the education/workplace skills gap. Because of their role in professions and industries, associations already connect employers seeking skills and individuals developing skills.
“Associations create standards and identify competencies needed in the employment world. We create educational programming designed to fill needs unmet by more traditional educational institutions and foster social connections and professional opportunity through networking. Where conventional educational curricula come up short, associations provide industry-specific bodies of knowledge. Where diplomas fail to demonstrate specific competencies, credible and well-designed credentialing and certification efforts can fill the gap.”*
Unencumbered by most of the baggage of higher education and embedded in our social fabric, associations have a historic opportunity to take a leadership role in bridging the education-to-employment skills gap and build the adaptive "T-shaped" professionals that our society needs. Composed of employers and employees in their respective sectors, associations are best-placed to see and react to workplace change in an agile fashion.
Associations can develop relevant career maps for their sectors, and more importantly, build the trust needed to navigate those maps by building consensus and using authentic demonstrations of learning and achivement using Open Badge eCredentials. They have an opportunity to reinvent what it means to develop as a professional. They can do this in partnership with academic institutions and government bodies, but they have a responsiblity to drive the bus forward, rather than wait to be told what is possible.
This workshop will make the case for associations to drive the "professional development bus" in our society, supported by environmental indicators, emerging case studies and actual success stories.
* The quotation above and much of this abstract draws heavily on the white paper “The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm” by Shelly Alcorn, CAE, Principal, Alcorn Associates Management Consulting, and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, CEO & Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting LLC, September 2016. http://bit.ly/AssocSkills
Assessment of Learning Outcomes by Means of ePortfolios in the Context of Lifelong Learning Driven by Harmonisation of Educational Paradigm
Siberian Federal University, Russian Federation
The research was conducted in the context of the project "Development of education and research center in the Krasnoyarsk Region by means of an electronic platform of longlife learning (PL2S) to support the development of human capital of Krasnoyarsk Region", which is powered by the Russian Humanitarian Science Foundation (RHSF).
Following the results of recent studies run by Russian and foreign scientists Sh.A. Amonoshvili, G.B. Kornetov, T.G. Novikov M.A. Pinskaya, O.G. Prikot, A.V. Khutorskoy, E.A. Yamburg, N. Barret, D. Cambridg, S. Rave, including our own long-term experience has allowed to build a model of using a portfolio at all tiers of education, considering the targets, which are age and educational level –oriented, and consider dominant pedagogical paradigm and FGES requirements. The model of ePortfolio use at each tier of education, harmonization of educational paradigms is presented in article. We have highlighted in bold the dominant paradigm at each level of education.
Let us consider some educational levels
The dominant paradigm at the pre-school level according to E.A. Yamburg classification, is personal. Therefore, the main issue for the pre-school level student is age and individual characteristics of young children. In developing the portfolio preschooler requires constant adult support and assistance.
The FGES RF places primary emphasis upon the development of the personal competencies of a child. At this stage of training is not the main task to bring all children to a unified learning result. Every child should and must have their own achievements. Children cannot be intercompared. The portfolio building for a preschooler is a preparatory stage for learning in primary school. In addition, involvement of a “close adult” – educator in individual work with the child to build up their portfolio "close adult" allows to implicitly evaluate the professional quality and competence of the teacher.
In elementary school, personal paradigm remains the dominant, which is supported by cognitive and social constructivism. Portfolio at this stage not only is used for the presentation of personal achievements, but also for the evaluation metasubject outcomes. Portfolio allows you to identify the blind side in development of training of younger schoolchildren.
In middle and senior secondary school level portfolio primarily provides an integrated approach to the assessment of learning outcomes (subject, metasubject and personal) and provides for combination of internal and external evaluation. Is dominated by the paradigm of social constructivism, defining objectives, meanings and values of education, setting priorities in the selection of the content, where cognitive information and personal paradigms complement the cultural view and a competence – provides tool support all three above mentioned paradigms. The long-term goal of portfolio practice at school aims at facilitating student in choosing the profile, as well as to demonstrate their achievements at tertiary level enrollment.
At the level of higher education Technology ePortfolio is used as a tool for personal and professional development and assessment competences formed in compliance with the new FGS and vocational standards. ePortfolio provides for accumulation and demonstration of individual achievements of students to carry out reflection of professional trials during practices and evaluate individual progress.
For successful implementation of ePortfolio technology in the context of lifelong learning in the Russian Federation the professional community should formalize the standards of the ePortfolio, align the sections, specify what information about individual student achievements is to be use for at each stage of education.
Certain aspects should be addressed at the level of the national level:
- absence of the concept/model portfolio for school, SES and HES graduates adopted by MES of the RF;
- the absence of agreed assessment criteria approved by the professional community due to the difference in the scales of assessment, ranking of learning achievements certificates, the methods used in various educational institutions;
- Educational institution system bound approach and exclusion networking interfacing between the owners of ePortfolios with different stakeholders of learning process (parents, employers, representatives of universities and schools) for the organization of productive dialogue, peer-assessment, expert estimation of artifacts;
- different objectives and levels of systematic use of e-technology portfolio in different Russian universities.
The vast majority of the HES RF sites do not post and/or provide free access to students portfolio that, in our opinion, would devalue the idea of an open portfolio as a technology independent expert evaluation in the professional community, a tool for personal and professional development.
 Smolyaninova О. Assessment of longlife learning outcomes: ePortfolio. Krasnoyarsk: SibFU, 2016. 362 p.
 Yamburh E.A. Adaptive School Development Management: Cultural-historical pedagogy. Moscow: PERCE, Press, 2004. 368 p. (in Russian)
The OPEN BADGE at the service of the company and training on the job
Amicucci Formazione S.r.l., Italy
How do identification and declination systems vary in regard to the skills required by companies and organisations in a digital and professional environment that is increasingly fast and responsive? How is it therefore possible to validate these skills and make them recognisable considering that learning occurs mainly through informal and/or non-formal channels?
The Open Badge can be the tool to consolidate and validate business skills, whether related to soft, technical or trade skills, which by definition appear to be far removed from traditional academia.
To achieve this it is crucial to be fully aware of the corporate objectives to be achieved, the specific characteristics of the players involved, the means that can be adopted to map and verify the process and the informal variables that affect it. If the competency model this is based on is solid and placed in the context of business objectives to be achieved, the Open Badges can become a tool for company recognition, validation of skills and powerful performance.
Thus, the Open Badge can be applied to multiple levels or to validate a specific skill (e.g. the level of knowledge of a foreign language), validate the skills associated with a role (e.g. the skills of the "trainer"), certify the completion of a training programme to obtain a "qualification" (the Expo 2015 "Volunteer").
The complexity increases when the Open Badge is not used only as an isolated recognition but integrated in the corporate training system through:
- The application of the 70:20:10 model that considers and weighs the different learning channels:
- o 70% as Experiential Training: On the Job
- o 20% as Social Training: learning from others
- o 10% as Formal Training: courses and programmes, including online courses
- Integration with company development processes and reward systems as an integral part of the development of resources.
An approach of this kind deserves attention, a method, tools and the objective awareness to be achieved and the associated implications.
Based on its established consultancy experience in developing corporate Academies, Amicucci Formazione methodologically supports the definition of corporate training courses aimed at the issuance of Open Badges, taking into account the variables mentioned above. In particular, the advice provided for the redesign of a company's blended training skills programme in the retail trade has made possible the development of a successful business case in which the informal and non-formal variables that influence comprehensive training were taken into account. This application was made possible by analysing and taking into account:
- the awareness of an increasingly fast and dynamic context which requires shorter training courses;
- the characteristics of the market and the recipients of the training;
- the need to map all the trade, soft and managerial skills useful for the achievement of the process and associating the right tools and learning methods;
- the implementation of structured moments of learning and tests, whether related to traditional training and elearning or "know-how" acquired through the On the Job Training;
- the awareness that learning On the Job is extremely influenced by how it is transmitted and that often the expert who potentially teaches the "know-how" is not necessarily prepared to deliver it with a consequent need to train/support these experts.
- the need to structure common tools and guidelines to standardise the training and assist experts by mapping the activities the training concerns, the definition of the timing and sequence of topics, and how to monitor and evaluate them.
Only a careful analysis of the context and players involved, the objectives and methodologies, applicable and usable resources and tools allows you to track and validate all the facets of a training programme, whether it is delivered through traditional training (classroom/elearning ) or through channels that are not easy to govern such as training on the job.
In this specific case, Open Badges can therefore take both the connotation of a real certification of skills and knowledge to perform a new role obtained after passing all the tests included in the training programme, and that of a tool to recognise the experts/tutors who have to manage and supervise the on the job training process.
Endorsements and Consortiums: Working Together to Strengthen Open Credentials
Brigham Young University, United States of America
William Gibson famously stated that, “The future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.” Throughout the history of educational innovations, the story remains the same that potentially effective innovations often do not succeed simply because the adoption and acceptance of the idea failed. While open badges have been hailed as a game changer for education, the innovation that is open badges is still struggling to gain widespread acceptance and adoption.
We developed the IPT Ed Tech open badges in 2013 to provide greater motivation, choice, and credentialing to preservice teachers. The most common response from students has been, “This would be great if it were accepted by employers and other schools. When will that happen?” My current objective has been to improve the acceptance and adoption of open badges by increasing the weight and value they hold for students, employers, and issuers.
Summary of Potential Solution: Opening up Learning and Credentialing
I believe we can increase the potential value of open badges through the following ways:
- Issuers can increase badge value through improved assessment and criteria rigor.
- Consortiums can increase open badge visibility and utility by enabling similarly minded issuers to unite under a single banner.
- Endorsements can increase open badge validity by allowing reputable employers, organizations, and educational institutions to promote and accept certain badges as authentic and valued.
To address the first issue, we have written a chapter in a recent handbook, urging for greater rigor from issuers in the rubrics and assessment practices we use to qualify learners for a badge. In the last year, I have been working on the second and third issues by creating a consortium of professors at six different universities to create badges that can be owned by each institution but cross-listed, shared, and endorsed by the others. We have also engaged the Board of Directors of our main professional organization to officially endorse badges in the area of instructional design and educational technology.
We have also formed partnerships with local school districts, holding summit meetings to facilitate collaborations between school districts on open badges that they will award to practicing teachers. These badges would represent real value for teachers, including higher pay and re-licensure credit, and would be transferrable across the various school districts in the partnership and endorsed by the state office of education and the partnering universities. This consortium has the potential to open up learning and credentialing, so that a student can begin earning credentials while in their university, have these credentials recognized by employers, and subsequent professional development could continue to issue and recognize these same credentials. This would create a potential common trajectory of learning from higher education to on the job, representing true lifelong training.
While our work has been with school teachers and teacher training, there is a possibility of adapting our badging practices in the future to benefit the students of these teachers as well, both at the primary and secondary level, as well as in the university.
Recommendations and Presentation Proposal
Based on our experiences thus far, the following are our recommendations for other institutions offering badges.
- Endorsements should become standard metadata options in open badging systems.
- When possible, institutions should collaborate together to create brands, consortiums, and systems of badges and microcredentials that are more easily recognized.
- Institutions should seek ways to cross-list and share microcredentials offered by others.
Our project is still a work in progress. At the ePIC conference, I will present the current state of our work, the lessons learned, and engage participants in discussing and answering questions about how to overcome the challenges we and others face in (1) improving the rigor of badging systems, (2) creating and sustaining partnerships, and (3) seeking and acquiring endorsements for badges that are offered. I anticipate that through this discussion, we will identify recommendations that can be generalizable to others, which we would intend to publish and disseminate widely.
In developing these ideas, I have been collaborating with the Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University, in the United Kingdom. They are also submitting an abstract to this conference on the same topic, and it would be great if our presentations could be paired together so we can discuss overlapping issues.