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Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
PR21A: Parallel session
Thursday, 27/Oct/2016:

Session Chair: Chiara Carlino
Location: Main salon

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An eportfolio should be owned by the individual – for life – what are the implications?

Rob Arntsen

MyKnowledgeMap, United Kingdom

Over the last few years a persistent demand has been that the personal data contained in an e-portfolio system should be owned and under the control of the individual – and not owned and controlled by the institution that may have licensed and/or provided the system in order to support an institutional delivery of a learning programme. For example it is quite normal today for higher education portfolio systems to effectively own the personal data in systems they provide and pay only lip service at best to enable individuals to have some access to their portfolio information after they complete their course.

We believe that at the outset the relationship should be different. The individual should own their own information in their own personal account. They should grant access to organisations such as higher education institutions or professional bodies to engage with them – and then the individual should have control over which information that institution can see. This implies that the eportfolio individual account should continue to be under the individual’s control long after they leave the educational institution and when they possibly cease to have any relationship with that educational organisation. And they should then be able to open up engagement with their portfolio with other organisations such as employers, recruitment agencies and other professional bodies, and even associations and clubs with which they have a particular personal interest.

So what are the implications of such a vision? How can this type of arrangement work without major disruption to the prevailing organisational objectives of existing eportfolio usage, especially as educational tools?

In the paper we examine these implications in great detail, based on a real example of an eportfolio system designed from scratch with these objectives in mind. We have found that the implications, issues and opportunities are very broad and we will cover the following areas:

  1. Where are the major conflicts between personal and institutional use of an e-portfolios?
  2. Where should the data be stored – in the cloud or in local stores and who owns or manages this storage space?
  3. How do we resolve confidentiality of data from an employer’s viewpoint?
  4. How do we resolve personal privacy issues?
  5. What rights or controls should the eportfolio systems supplier or hosting service attempt to assert over a person’s eportfolio account, if any?
  6. How should an eportfolio system work such that an individual can engage with more than one institution at the same time? How could this operate such that we recognise what actually happens in real life?
  7. What type of permissions, controls and different layers of terms and conditions are needed?
  8. Who pays and what are the options? Can it be completely free?
  9. How could we make this free for individuals so that everyone can have a free account for life, and yet still enable use of resource hungry assets such as video?
  10. How should such an ecosystem best work with Open Badges?
  11. What is open in this context? What are the options for openness?
  12. Will such a system become cumbersome and unwieldy when it contains very large amounts of information, and what sort of discovery and retrieval mechanisms are needed to curate an individual’s lifelong information resources?
  13. How should such a system work with mobile devices to exploit their full potential?
  14. How should such a system work with an individual’s social network tools, and how can such a system keep pace with the continued flood of new products in this area?
  15. What new opportunities and challenges does such a proposition face?

We address all of the above and provide some forward insight based on practical experience.

This includes looking ahead at possible evolutionary directions of this concept.

Giving value to badges. An effort of introducing Badges to the Belgian labor market.

Bert Jehoul

Selor, Belgium

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal end of January 2012 Philipp Schmidt, co-founder of P2P University, now working at MIT Media Lab, said: “When the first software developer gets a job from Google with a badge from Mozilla, the flood doors are going to open.”

This is now almost 5 years ago and we can raise the question to what extent badges are keeping up to their potential promise for the labor market. In what way the concerns expressed in that 2012 article are still relevant. And what issues still remain to solve to get the future badge ecosystem more mature and ready for a more widespread adoption into the labor market.

This presentation starts from our own experiences at Selor in trying to introduce badges and the open badges standard to the Belgian labor market.

Selor, is a Belgian governmental organization responsible for the recruitment of federal civil servants. We screen about 100.000 applicants on an annual basis.

The first time we heard about Open Badges was during an event of the European Association of Test Publishers almost 3 years ago. Because the Open Badges Standard was potentially addressing and offering a solution for some of the challenges we were facing, we decided to dive in deeper. This resulted in issuing our first badges at Selor beginning 2015.

A year later we launched a more broader local Belgian Open Badges initiative labeled ‘Be Badges’. It consisted of trying to convince other Belgian organizations (gov and non-gov) to start issuing badges and to create a network around this concept (via promotion, marketing, events, meetups, etc..). We also launched our own website (http://www.bebadges.be) that can be used by any organization to issue and manage their badges and by any earner to collect and store their badges.

We now have gathered about 60 organizations who started using the website as an issuer: Belgian universities, other public employment services, training centers, interim agencies, coding schools, private companies, ..

In this presentation we will explain the challenges for the labor market we are trying to address with badges. And the social innovation goals of empowering jobseekers & employees, stimulating lifelong learning , solving talent mismatch and enhancing employment and talent mobility that we and our Be Badges network are trying to achieve. But also the difficulties and problems we have experienced and are still experiencing.

We will also present a clear use case of our own issued Selor-badges in which we started to disrupt existing assessment models by sharing test results and certified competencies of candidates. Other parties are accepting and giving real value to these badges in their assessment (and other) procedures (e.g. to avoid unnecessary re-testing).

To conclude we would like to cast a critical eye on the current state of both our own Be Badges project as the overall Open Badges Ecosystem from a labor market point of view. Some important issues that are on the list for the 2.0 specification of the Standard are discussed in perspective of specific Belgian labor market needs. E.g. Localization , issues concerning identity authentication, endorsements of badgeClasses & assertions and the possibility of linking with external frameworks like e.g. ESCO.

We share our thoughts on the ideas of badges as ‘verifiable claims’, open signatures as a more generalistic layer on top of Open Badges & the potential of public ledgers and blockchain technology as possible solutions for some of the issues that remain.

Open Blockchain: Experiments In Using Blockchains to Support Adult Education

John Domingue, Michelle Bachler, Chris Valentine, Kevin Quick

The Open University, United Kingdom

In a typical educational scenario students learn through a number of pedagogical activities and are assessed and receive feedback from teachers. Learning occurs either face-to-face, online, or a mixture of the two, under the control of an educational institution providing quality, credibility, governance, and administrative functions. While the educational institution issues documentation that certify the achievement of major milestones in a degree (e.g. transcripts), students are responsible for preserving and storing the work they created during their courses (e.g., essays) and the feedback given by the teachers for later use (e.g., to show to potential employers). This creates a high overhead for the students, as they need to keep track, organize, and safely archive the relevant information, which often includes many individual pieces of work, stored as different media (e.g., emails, CAD files), created over months or years of study. At the same time, the recipient of this information (a potential employer, the admissions team of educational institutions) has limited means to check the evidence submitted or to assess the candidate, as they have little context of the relevance of the work carried out to standard qualifications and skills frameworks.

At the Open University (OU) we have been conducting experiments in using blockchain technology to support adult education with the aim of addressing the issues outlined above. In this paper we outline three blockchain experiments that we have been conducting. This ongoing work is being conducted in the context of OpenLearn [1], a Master’s in Online and Distance Education [2] and corporate training scenarios. All of our experiments have been constructed using the Ethereum blockchain software [3] as it is one of the main systems that currently offers a Turing-complete programming framework.

Our first experiment is centred around the OU’s OpenLearn. Established in 2010 OpenLearn now has over 800 free OU short courses representing 8,000 hours learning materials and receives over 5 million visitors per year. We have recently started offering badged open courses within OpenLearn and this has formed a starting point for our work. We store OpenLearn badges onto the blockchain in the form of smart contracts (which can represent legal and financial transactions). In particular, we have individual smart contracts to represent the badge, the issuing of the badge, the recipient, the issuer, evidence, criteria and alignment. A screencast of a demo of this system can be found at [4]. We are also developing systems to allow the administration of OpenLearn courses for administrators and students. Early demos of this work can be found at [5] and [6].

Within our Distance Education Master’s course we have focused on the development of blockchain based ePortfolios. The approach taken is that an ePortfolio is represented as a smart contract and student items can be added as desired. We will shortly be testing our system with students placing student created abstracts, posters, and conference slides and videos onto a public blockchain. An early demonstrator of our tool can be found at [7].

We are in discussion with a number of companies looking at how blockchains could support corporate training. Specifically, we are investigating how educational currencies could enable accreditation for soft skills (e.g. collaboration) to be crowdsourced across a workforce. Employees would periodically receive a number of tokens for each soft skill and allocate these to co-workers for their performance over time. Currencies can be designed to reflect the particular soft skills including conversion rates to accreditation. A very early demo can be found at [8].

Blockchain is a new technology which is still developing and is largely unknown to the general public also lacking easy to use interfaces. Because of this there is a tension between making blockchain systems amenable to learners whilst leveraging the benefits that may be acquired. One example of this issue can be found in how private keys are setup. Giving each student their own private key would allow them to control access to their own learning artifacts (i.e. badges, ePortfolios). However, current tools are complex to use. One approach to lessen the burden for students is for educational institutions to broker interaction by holding a central key. This however has the effect of centralising control which negates part of the rational for using blockchains.

Although early days we already see several key benefits that blockchains offer in the education domain:

  • Placement of control and ownership of all learning artifacts with the learner.
  • Reduction in administration burden for maintaining student records (including accreditation). This is especially relevant when one considers micro accreditation such as badges.
  • Ability to link accreditation to relevant student work and feedback providing sound fine grained evidence and rationale.

  1. http://www.open.edu/openlearn/
  2. http://www.open.ac.uk/postgraduate/qualifications/f10
  3. https://www.ethereum.org/
  4. http://blockchain.open.ac.uk/blckchn-data/themes/blockchain/assets/movies/openlearn-anon.mp4
  5. http://blockchain.open.ac.uk/blckchn-data/themes/blockchain/assets/movies/admin.mp4
  6. http://blockchain.open.ac.uk/blckchn-data/themes/blockchain/assets/movies/student.mp4
  7. http://blockchain.open.ac.uk/blckchn-data/themes/blockchain/assets/movies/blockchain-simple-eportfolio.mp4
  8. http://blockchain.open.ac.uk/blckchn-data/themes/blockchain/assets/movies/reputation.mp4
  9. https://uport.me/

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