Open Badges – the start of a new adventure

Earlier this month I started a new job at York St John University as a Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor. Have a look at our team’s blog, it’s pretty good. As part of my new role I will be leading on existing and new projects across the university that are utilizing digital and Open Badges. As part of me trying to learn All The Things about Open Badges, I am working my way through the Open Badges 101 online course, and will be earning some Open Badges myself along the way.

What are Open Badges?

Open Badges are digital credentials backed up by metadata to show who issued them and what the earner had to do to actually receive the badge. In effect, they are a digital version of a certificate that you can earn by displaying certain skills/meeting certain criteria. Because they are ‘open’ i.e: built on the Open Badges Infrastructure, any Open Badges that you earn can be added to something like Mozilla Backpack or Open Badge Passport and displayed online, regardless of where you earned them from.

What’s the difference between an Open Badge and a digital badge?

Any regular online gamers might be accustomed to earning badges or achievements, but these are usually not transferable outside of the platform where they were earned. The same can be said for online credentials that might be earned within an institutional VLE at a university or college; once a student leaves and loses access to these systems, evidence of the digital badges is lost forever. Open Badges are not ‘trapped’ within one particular system or platform and can be displayed wherever the earner wants to display them, such as on a blog, LinkedIn profile or Facebook profile.

How could Open Badges be used?

From an educational institution’s point of view, students could earn badges related to extra-curricular activities throughout their time at university and be able to provide evidence of the skills they’ve gained to future employers.

Organisations could also use Open Badges for staff development activities, to enable staff to take evidence of their development with them if they move on to other jobs. At York St John, Open Badges have been used by the TEL Team for their SEDA: Supporting Learning with Technology award, with badges issued via Moodle which can then be exported straight to Mozilla Backpack.

I’m looking forward to working on projects with staff at York St John over the next year and will be blogging about some of my work both on here and the YSJ TEL Team blog.

Stay tuned!

Update: 16th August 2016

I had some technical difficulties with the badge issuer that the Open Badge 101 course was using, but I’ve now managed to get the embed code for my badge. I’m not a fan of this particular badge issuer, and I don’t think the Open Badge 101 people were either, so I think they have since moved to another badge issuer.


Featured image licensed under CC by the talented @BryanMMathers: What’s inside an Open Badge?


Applying for jobs as professional development

I’m about to start a new job as a TEL Adviser at York St John University and I was reflecting recently on the whole process of applying for the job, preparing for the interview and then reflecting on the interview and presentation after the event.

As I was filling in the application form for the job I became aware – probably more than I have ever been with applications in the past – that thinking through all of the things you’ve done and trying to put them into a coherent order that aligns with the person specification is really worthwhile in terms of taking stock of everything you’ve done in your current and previous jobs.

Perhaps I feel this way because I’ve applied for a lot of jobs over the years and have ended up transitioning from one field of work (libraries) to another (technology enhanced learning/e-learning/educational development – whatever you want to call it) so I’ve really had to think about how the skills and experience I’ve built up over the years are transferable.

I would definitely say that applying for jobs, or even going through the process of reflecting on what you’ve done and mapping it to a person spec for a job in a similar field or perhaps a job that would be a step-up from your current one would really benefit anybody from a development point of you. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day stuff at work and get frustrated or feel like you’re stagnating and nothing ever changes. I saw someone on Twitter a few days ago tweet something about how change is one of the only constants in life. Perhaps it’s just that we don’t notice it at the time and we don’t make time to reflect on how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved.

Even if you like your job and have no intention of leaving, but on occasion feel a bit frustrated or stuck, doing a ‘skills audit’ would maybe be a good way of making you think about all the things you’ve done and perhaps help you see things from a different perspective.

What does everyone else think?