Documentation:Open UBC/Education/Learn about Open Badges
Open Badges are online credentials that take the form of a digital icon. They may be referred to as digital badges, but the two terms are not quite synonymous: digital badges usually stay within the website where they were issued, while Open Badges can be shared openly across websites or social media pages.
Open Badges and Evidence
Information relating to the earning of the badge appears when the badge is clicked in order to ensure that Open Badges are interpreted correctly when removed from the context in which they were issued,. This information is called badge metadata, and it is important because it allows people outside the badging program to understand what was required to earn the badge. Badge metadata may include:
- the date the badge was issued
- the name of the issuer
- the name of the earner
- what the earner had to do to earn the badge
- a hyperlink to work produced in the process of earning the badge.
Open Badges and Sharing
By virtue of being openly shared, badges allow earners to tell a verifiable story about themselves via their collection of badges. It means that employers, startups, and volunteer organizations can find people with specific skills. And by enabling people to make their skills visible, badges can facilitate the formation of new networks based on shared skills and interests.
In post-secondary institutions, badges are being used to recognize specific skills acquired within a classroom. Compared to other credentials issued by a post-secondary institution, such as a degree or a diploma, badges are more specific in indicating the nature of the accomplishment.
The Growth of Open Badges
To read a history of open badges and how they became a part of education environments, read "A Brief History of Badges." Open badges benefit a variety of people when incorporated into learning activities and portfolio building. Badges have the ability to clarify learning outcomes for students while validating the achievement of granular skills, knowledge and attitudes expected of students. The following outlines the value of badges for educators, students, employers, and the larger badge community
When designing a course or program, it is essential that the educators has a clear understanding of what students will be able to do when the course is finished. Articulating course objectives assists educators in identifying what is really worth learning within the scope of a topic and in creating assignments and activities that address the overall goals of the course or program. Badges can be a tool used to build successful learning environments.
Badges can assist in shifting the focus of a course or program from teaching to learning through the development of more granular criteria for assignments and activities. When implementing badges into a course or program, determining criteria for earning a badge can focus on taking a complex idea or theme in a course and breaking it down to specific skills, knowledge or behaviours needed to be successful in the larger learning objective. The process of creating meta-literacy badges can act as stepping stones for students in tracking their achievements within a course or program but also in understanding how their learning connects to the larger objectives.
Badges have a number of benefits for students but one of the most meaningful is the ability for students to articulate what they have achieved within a course or program in a defined and shareable way. If designed well, badges can be a concise representations of learning accomplishments. Badge criteria and evidence can be made publicly viewable, allowing students to highlight their abilities in a way that a course credit or paper certificate cannot. Sharing a badge on social media can assist students in developing a learning story that can be shared to family, friends, educators, and employers.
Thousands of graduates have a certificate indicating they completed degree requirements. In practice, employers, start-ups, and volunteer organizations have difficulty distinguishing one graduate from the other. Degrees on their own do not necessarily convey the skills, experience, or expertise of individuals. Badge collections can convey a detailed picture of the graduate that can be authenticated through the criteria and evidence associated to the badge.
The ability for employers to collaborate with educators in badge programs can help to identify the skills needed to be successful in career preparation and development. Additionally, these kinds of opportunities could benefit career transition and professional development programs.
The Badge Community
A major benefit to badges is the ability to connect knowledge, skills and achievement to a specific need within the external community. Public endorsement of badges that align with the values and needs of an organization creates a natural partnership between stakeholders of a badge (e.g. educators, community partners, business, etc.). It also assists badge earners in directing their own learning by selecting badges that have the most value for achieving their goals.
Badges in this context can:
- develop a collaborative approach to education that addresses both academic, local community and market needs
- validate competencies, skills and attitudes at a more granular level than a transcript or degree
- provide a strategic approach for badge earners in developing their learning portfolio
- promote an open ecosystem and badge-based learning
Badging in academic environments can be complex as there are a variety of activities that occur on campus that support student and staff professional development and educational growth. Many of these activities are formalized within the university accreditation structure, such as coursework and degree programs, while other activities offer supportive services that enhance knowledge and skills to be successful in academia and beyond, such as research and writing services.
The following outlines the variety of badging program types and examples within educational settings.
An extracurricular badge reflects an activity that takes place outside a curriculum. These activities often are associated to an area of interest or a hobby. These badges provide social capital for an individual by providing a community to interact with that have similar interests. On an academic campus, extracurricular activities can include anything from involvement in a club to engaging in learning activities outside of the classroom that support an area of interest.
Extracurricular badges stand at a slight remove from the agendas of academics although they often are supportive of the soft skills and generalized knowledge needed for success in the larger education and employment environment.
A co-curricular badge reflects skills and knowledge that complements a formal curriculum.
Co-curricular badges require the identification of skills or knowledge needed to fulfill curriculum requirements but may not be a part of the overall assigned activities. For example, research skills, digital literacy, or community service activities may be skills required to complete course work but are not officially assigned or graded activities.
Curricular badges can be difficult to implement as they may be subject to a lengthy approval process from institutional bodies that oversee curriculum. Curricular badges are equivalent to a formal credential from an institution like UBC.
Open Badges are used in a wide range of organizations, from museums to businesses to libraries and universities. For each organization, Open Badges may serve slightly different purposes, resulting in unique badge programs.
To see how the purpose of the badge affects the design of a badge program, imagine that a university wants to issue badges for the purpose of credentialing skills gained in the classroom. For this to work, it must be possible for the badge to be exported from the university's online learning platform to a website like LinkedIn.
Alternately, imagine a museum where the purpose of the badge program is to enliven the exploration of the museum's collection. To maximize the feel-good factor, it makes sense for such badges to be aesthetically beautiful.
Compared to universities and museums, business organizations may yet have different purposes with regards to badges. In business, badges may be used to mark milestones in the professional development of employees. For this reason, such badges may represent skills of increasing difficulty.
Of course, these are generalizations. To better understand the innovative ways badges programs are being designed, consider the following case studies.
UBC Badge Initiatives
In 2014, three programs at UBC incorporated badges into the delivery of their content:
Additional Badge Initiatives
Open Badges have been gaining traction worldwide. Such programs include: