Badging formal degrees: we need critical mass
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy
According to the First EUA Learning&Teaching Forum (Paris 28-29 September 2017), European Universities growingly acknowledge the usefulness of badging strategies for motivating students to engage in extracurricular activities and to acquire generic skills and competences. Beyond that, at the University of Milano Bicocca we are also badging formal graduation degrees. Graduation Badges (GB) are official certifications, easily portable and sharable, and less cumbersome than official diploma supplements/tracks of records. They synthetically report what a student learned in a degree, how he/she performed, and the jobs/professions relevant for that degree. GBs are aimed at improving the circulation/shared knowledge of the actual contents and learning achievements implied by acquiring a degree, for the sake of global employers. In time, endorsements (or lack of endorsements) by different employers will testify the high (or low) value of a specific degree issued by a specific university for employment in the global market. However, GBs will attain their goals only when many different universities will issue them, and as a consequence employers, graduated students, and job-oriented social forums will ask for them in electronic CVs as a substitute for the degree owner’s self-declaration (typical of traditional CVs).
Life-long, life-wide and life-deep professional learning: what do open badging and eportfolios have to offer?
Massey University New Zealand, New Zealand
The landscape of ongoing professional learning is changing. ‘Becoming’ and ‘belonging’ are important aspects of developing a professional identity, and involve life-long, life-wide and life-deep learning. Ongoing life-long learning beyond formal study, life-wide learning across different contexts and disciples, and life-deep learning of embedding values and identity within practice are relevant shifts in thinking about professional development. The challenge lies in credentialing this authentic learning that occurs over time, across boundaries and is shaped by personal values and identity development. The ‘work in progress’ presented in this abstract questions whether open badging and eportfolios can offer some solutions to this challenge.
The case study presented here involves an initiative, funded by the Ministry of Education in New Zealand, of creating networked professional learning opportunities for learning support teachers - SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Coordinators). The role of the SENCO is to facilitate equitable and inclusive education systems in schools. This role is not formalised in New Zealand and typically these teachers are based in individual schools, and are relatively unsupported with no professional learning pathway. In 2016, the authors were involved in providing a blended (online and face-to-face) non-formal learning ‘course’, in which 75 SENCOs across New Zealand participated. Findings from this project revealed that despite being time-poor and under-resourced, SENCOs actively sought and valued opportunities for team-work and collaboration. In addition, the participants indicated high levels of flexibility, autonomy, and job satisfaction. Given these findings, a case was made to continue to support the autonomy and flexibility within the SENCO role, and then provide improved structures for ongoing professional learning, collaboration and sharing of practice. Our approach aimed to address SENCOs’ needs for professional learning and collaboration, extend their opportunities to build capability and leadership within schools, but also avoid standardising and prescribing their role.
We thus developed a new ‘network of expertise’ model to provide opportunities for flexible life-long learning. This is designed to overcome the isolation in individual schools, promote authentic and contextualised life-wide learning with and from each other, and personalise life-deep learning that promotes professional identity development. Valuing this alternative learning through alternative forms of credentialing will enhance the status and professionalism of the role.
The SENCO network will provide a range of modalities for SENCOs to connect, communicate and collaborate with each other across four blended (online and face to face) hubs. Hub 1 is an open and free network where SENCOs can share resources, debate and co-construct knowledge around evidence-based practices. Hub 2 involves paying a subscription to a more extended members’ network that includes opportunities to attend regional and national face-to-face workshops, virtual webinars, collaborative research and inquiry into practice, participation in journal clubs, access to resources and updates on events etc. Hub 3 is a professional learning network where authentic learning within practice can be used as evidence to meet competencies of SENCO practice. These artefacts and evidence of learning can be added to an ePortfolio and these can be digitally badged and used as an alternative form of credentialing learning in practice. This learning is thus individualised, contextualised and authentic, and contributes to the SENCOs ongoing life-long, life-wide and life-deep identity development. Hub 4 is a formal learning network where these alternatively credentialled credits can potentially be bundled together and cross-credited as modules towards a university qualification in Learning Support (LS). This level proves still be be a challenge within existing university structures.
Digital badging and ePortfolios offer a fluid and flexible way for professionals to learn in different contexts and be recognised for the knowledge and skills acquired in these alternative environments. They challenge traditional approaches of teaching and learning and offer innovative alternatives to credit skills and knowledge outside the formal curriculum. These emerging tools also offer the possibility of displaying (ePortfolios) and verifying (digital badging) an achievement, ability or skill. They then become a means of transition from the informal (hubs 1 & 2) to the more formal learning (hubs 3 & 4) context.
Badging and ePortfolios can transform conceptions of learning and provide ways of recognising more diverse learning pathways and opportunities for learners, that can then transition into formal qualifications. Our ‘network of expertise’ approach demonstrates the affordances of open badging and eportfolios as alternative credentials for informal and formal types of learning for SENCOs. We look forward to sharing our ideas, connecting with other similar approaches and addressing the challenges we and others face in creditionalling alternatives.
Designing Badges for student and faculty development
Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
What do you learn at university? You learn what is set out in the course programme, of course. You learn to study. You often learn a language. Sometimes you learn something that, at first sight, may seem unrelated, but that makes us better members of society, like Basic Life Support. The lecturers learn to better themselves and innovate, day by day, year by year. They put cross-cutting competencies into practice, which will be useful at work and in life.
The University of Padua, with more than 60,000 students and almost 800 years of history behind it, has decided to turn the spotlight on to all these opportunities for learning, which make the university a place for all-round growth. The objects chosen to turn on this light are the Open Badges.
Linguistic eligibility: Open Badges and recognition of study credits
The first experiment involving the students concerns the activities of the University Language Centre: for the TAL (Test of Linguistic Ability) in English Level B1 and B2, which is held in the Language Centre, in computerised form (listening and writing), or in person with a mother tongue teacher (for oral expression), students who pass the test in the University Language Centre receive an Open Badge issued by Bestr, as evidence of the exam passed.
Integration with ESSE3 also enables the student office to recognise the credits automatically, where applicable, and thus save on bureaucratic procedures for the students and the operators.
The awarding of the Open Badges for the language tests has proved reasonably successful, with a percentage of students collecting their Badge equivalent to the average registered in general on the Bestr platform, a fact which is especially relevant, seeing that the students are not obliged to take this step in order to have their credits recognised. Therefore, the students perceive the value of the Badge and the competency it represents, irrespective of the administrative usefulness within the study course.
Teaching4Learning: training of teachers
From the students to the teachers, in-service training is a lifelong process and doubly important when it is a question of educating for educating, sharing good practices of teaching, experimenting with didactic strategies and making lessons more and more engaging and actively attended.
The University working to improve itself is enhanced with these Badges, issued to those teachers who want to take part in the virtuous circle.
Basic Life Support: sensitisation and active civic duty
The University is the place for a person to grow and a citizen to be trained: with a show of great sensitivity, the Paduan University collaborates with the association "Padova fa battere il cuore" (Padua makes the heart beat) in providing its students with a Basic Life Support course, which makes them aware of how each of us, if we are prepared and suitably trained, can really make the difference.
This is a Badge expressing a highly concrete competency, but also the willingness to put oneself to the test, to be active towards the world and the person standing next to us.
Starting on a pathway
The University of Padua has reached the Open Badges “starting from the need to find useful tools to certify the soft skills of the students through cross-cutting activities”: those mentioned are the first Badges, which already map out three clearly distinct paths.
These paths may be extended, developed, expanded step by step, as the experimentation goes on, identifying the activities within the University that may benefit from an innovative certification and stimulating their creation, starting from the opportunity for formal recognition and moving on to involve businesses, as well, which can make their own endorsement of the University Badges that they consider to be representative of useful values in an employment context.
For Bestr and Cineca, this has been an opportunity to develop and refine the way in which the Badges can be integrated into university systems and add value to the Universities and the people who are their heart
Visualising Teamwork Credentials in the Medical Sciences using ePortfolios and Badges as Symbols of Achievement and Skills Recognition
1School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, Australia; 2Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, Australia; 3Science Administration Unit, Faculty of Science, UNSW Sydney, Australia; 4School of Education, University of Notre Dame Australia, Australia
How are graduate capabilities such as teamwork visualised and recognised within an undergraduate medical science degree program? This is a question that our team of medical research scientists who are discipline specific higher education teachers at UNSW Sydney collaboratively asked when we embarked on a project to capture and make sense of how our students develop this highly sought after professional skill. Development of informal, co-curricular professional skills and capabilities by undergraduates that are linked to formal academic learning is difficult to capture at the program level within higher education institutions. Feedback from employers, educators and students suggests that the teamwork graduate capability is a key competency, but it is hard for students to prove mastery and equally hard for us as teachers to warrant how that mastery is attained a part of an undergraduate learning experience. In the Bachelor of Medical Science (BMedSci) program at UNSW Sydney, a program-wide Comprehensive Teamwork Learning and Assessment (CTLA) model was initiated by aligning assessment tasks longitudinally across the program and transversely across discipline, with particular focus on building teamwork capabilities. This was addressed by combining formal curricular assessment of these tasks by academics and student peers, coupled with co-curricular assessment using self and peer evaluation of teamwork skills awareness and development by students, ePortfolio implementation for reflective practice and a teamwork student satisfaction survey. These CTLA model elements support student reflective practice and awareness of teamwork skills attainment as well as supporting their emerging identity as scientists-in-the-making. In particular, our CTLA model involved tracking, mapping and aligning assessment tasks that built relevant, authentic skills for teamwork and incorporated standards-based criteria that directly addressed teamwork skills development using an adapted Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) VALUE rubric for teamwork; the UNSW Teamwork Skills Development Framework. This process integrated content knowledge and technical skills that articulated with professional skills development across all the medical sciences disciplines. We implemented this system using Workshop UNSW in Moodle for teachers to monitor and students to evaluate teamwork skills progression for themselves and their peers. ePortfolio/reflective blogging using WordPress to document and reflect on their personal-professional development of teamwork skills was implemented as a key part of this approach for raising awareness of attaining the teamwork skill. Student satisfaction was surveyed at the completion of the teamwork assessment tasks across the program. Study outcomes demonstrated the innovative CTLA model and assessment approaches improved teamwork skills awareness and attainment in the medical science program at UNSW. A cross-disciplinary skills awareness and development capture strategy developed as part of a UNSW Innovation Research Project will be presented. The integration of ePortfolio/reflective blogging coupled to the Teamwork Skills Development Framework, for use in the medical science program to evaluate teamwork skills as well as application of the Reflective Rubric UNSW will be discussed. There is scope to implement this mechanism for extracting data across any ePortfolio platform and from a learning management system such as Moodle for application as metadata that sits behind badges as symbols of achievement and recognition of professional skills attainment. A pilot system of badging these teamwork credentials using the Cengage platform will also be discussed. Our approach for measuring informal co-curricular skills attainment when coupled to authentic assessment tasks will be useful across the sciences and indeed other disciplines at higher education institutions.
Digging into Open Badges through a Province-wide Sandbox
Support for the growth and expansion of online learning and teaching is central to the mandate of eCampusOntario and its members. In June 2017, eCampusOntario announced an Expression of Interest (EOI) inviting its 45 member post-secondary institutions to participate in an EdTech Sandbox. The aim of the Sandbox is to provide institutions with an opportunity to explore a new set of tools to support technology-enabled learning in a risk-free environment. One of the areas of exploration was around Open Badging through provision of a limited number of institutionally-branded CanCred Factory environments and the new eCampusOntario Passport. CanCred is a Canadian cloud-based open badge management platform for creating, issuing and managing meaningful digital credential systems.
The eCampusOntario Open Badging Sandbox is meant to give Institutions access to explore how, through CanCred Factory and the new eCampusOntario Passport, open badges can be created and employed as recognitions of learning in order to support and extend technology-enabled teaching and learning, particularly in the areas of:
Alternative recognition of learning
Recognition of prior learning
Informal co-curricular learning
Skills and knowledge required for transition to work
The overall goal of these action-based pilot explorations is to generate a diverse collection of case studies based on hands-on experience in designing and using open badge systems. These case studies will be used to inform future decision-making around potential shared services around open badging that will benefit Ontario’s Post-Secondary Environment.
Applicants interested in participating in the Open Badges Sandbox were required to submit an Expression of Interest, detailing the following:
a description of their proposed Open Badging project, including details on the system goals, the type of learner, the learning environment, and the relevant activities or competencies.
their vision for the concept proposed and success indicators
a description of who is involved in the badging project and how they propose to communicate and collaborate with learners, colleagues, employers and other stakeholders
a plan for evaluating data and communicating value and opportunities for enhancing value of their open badging project.
Of the ## applications received through the EOI process, eight participating institutions were identified: Durham College; Fanshawe College; Georgian College; Loyalist College; Ryerson University, University of Waterloo; Western University and York University.
Through a series of webinars, orientation packages and one-on-one support from eCampusOntario and the CanCred implementation team, each are now developing, issuing and managing their own Institutionally branded badges. All badge data is securely stored on Canadian servers that are compliant with the Mozilla Open Badge standard. A dedicated eCampusOntario Passport was also set up as the common storage and display platform for Open Badges issued by the Factory environments. Badge earners are able to curate their badges in the Passport with other evidence, such as documents, text and embedded media using Pages which can function as micro-portfolios.
Although it is early days, initial feedback on this evaluation has been positive. We anticipate gathering and sharing results as they are accumulated through the following required reporting process:
Project Status Report
Project Interim Report
This session will provide attendees with an overview of how you can work to engage your partners in an evaluation project around open badging systems. The Expression of Interest, implementation and support and evaluation and reporting processes will be highlighted. It is our intention that this could be used a model for others in their exploration of open badges with their target groups.