The open badge experiment in Dutch HE. Building a proof of concept for an open badge infrastructure.
The open badge experiment in Dutch HE.
Building a proof of concept for an open badge infrastructure.
SURFnet, the National Research & Education Network (NREN) organization in The Netherlands, is building a pilot micro-credentialing system using the open source project Badgr, to allow institutions to experiment with creating and awarding open badges.
There is not much practical experience with open badges for micro-credentials in Dutch education. This is why experiments are indispensable. In 2017, we are creating a proof of concept for an open badge infrastructure, as well as investigating which technologies and standards are needed to be able to assign open badges. Additionally, we organise support for implementing micro-credentialing in higher education in the Netherlands.
Higher education can become more experienced in dealing with the issues raised in the whitepaper that SURFnet has written in 2016, through well-coordinated experiments.
The paper suggests three different scenarios for the use of badges in Dutch HE:
- Micro-credentials (accredited education, externally visible)
- Badges for extra-curricular (further) training
- Badges as a game element
These different scenarios provide different use cases for the use of open badges and the way in which they are accepted within the HE community. Currently most of the institutes are looking into open badges as an extra service on top of the current certificates or as an extra for proof of informal or exceptional learning within HE institutions.
The overall aim of the experiment
Together with 8 HE institutions we are looking into the added value of open badges for Dutch HE. This is done through experiments and workshops that are conducted on a centralized badging system which is developed and refactored based on the experiences and needs of these 8 institutions.
We seek to find answers at a practical and semantical level:
At a practical level: How can an institute or a teacher assert a badge? What is needed to implement a badge infrastructure for a HE institution or at a central NREN? What are best practices for asserting badges? At what level within the institution can badges be asserted? Can signing of badges add value to a badge and if so would this best be done by a NREN?
At a semantical level: Are badges course based or competency based or is there a better alternative? How can we make sure that badges within the HE sector are comparable and stackable, given the discussion between course or competency based badges? If badges are interoperable can students exchange an institute A econ101 badge for an institute B econ101 badge? How can badges best be displayed for minor exchanges? How can students create their own stack of badges and have them assessed as a whole study?
Our experiments are aimed to gain more insight into the process of using open badges within HE, the interoperability of badges within and between institutions for study programmes of students. In the workshops the institutes also work on finding the semantics for these badges by coupling the badges with earlier defined competency frameworks as well as predefined accreditation standards within Dutch HE. The frameworks and the data with regards to the values or scores on these frameworks is than mapped on the open badges specification. At the moment, there are not many available solutions that have alignments or other methods for linking badges with external validation methodologies available. Open source development and collaboration with suppliers is therefore needed.
We see promise in the use of open badges for Dutch Higher Education to enable micro credentialing and more flexibility and choice for students as well as better adapted education to meet the needs of employers who would like their staff to be certified.