Linking learning with industry using Open Badges

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Linking learning with industryMark DransfieldYork St John

ALT-C 2015

@dranners #altc

Learning contextDigital Business CommunicationBlended moduleBadging built in from outset12 studentsLevel 3 undergraduate moduleEmployability


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A newly validated module which ran for the first time in 2014/15 academic year. Therefore there was a blank canvas to play with. Badges were built into the design of the module form the outset.

The module was for level 3 students, so those in their final year of study at undergraduate level. As a lecturer, I was conscious that they needed to start thinking about their future employability. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that I embedded employability skills into the module. However, these were not recognised in the overall module. I worked with 3 businesses to 2

Badges in society.

Creative Commons

Creative CommonsCreative CommonsAged 0-16Professional/careerHey DuggeeBBC siteGap = UK HE empirical evidence

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Were very familiar with the concept of badges as a form of reward and recognition within our lives and within society. This medium of recognition transcends countries and cultures.

From a young age we are given badges to motivate us in school (stickers)movements such as scouts, cubs and browniesPersonal and professional development, such as ALTs Open BadgesProfessional careers police, aviation, military etc

In HE, one can experience negative perceptions of badges. Many colleagues see them as being quite puerile. They raise connotations of childish motivation, particularly from other academics and managers. Key questions might be: what is their value, are they worth the effort involved, arent they just a gimmick to motivate students whose time is already strained?

My suggestion is that badges within a HE context can become more meaningful if they are designed in the right way AND endorsed by appropriate organisations.


Previous work in HETwo of Glover and Latifs (2013) key findingsThat aligning badges with professional bodies enabled students to see how their studies fit with future career aspirationsThat raising the awareness of open badges amongst employers was important to increase badge credibilityAhn et al (2014) Does the source of a given badge (or issuer) affect users motivation to earn that badge?

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This project built on the work of Glover & Latif and attempted to provide an answer to Ahn et als question. It sits within this academic framework and has very close links with the concept of employability.4


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This research project is split across 2 domains of literature, Open Badges and Employability.

Literature on Open Badges is largely US-centric. Not surprising considering thats where it originated and that it is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla and HASTAC.

In the UK, the not-for-profit organization DigitalMe, through its Badge The UK project, aims to use Open Badges to provide students with a form of digital currency which not only credits them with a range of valuable skills developed, but also works with organisations such as employers in order to encourage greater recognition of these skills and specifically recognition of open badges as a vehicle for evidencing them.

Employability has been part of the HE agenda for some time. The Dearing review helped to establigh various funding bodies to support graduate employability. The Wilson Review highlights the importance of business Schools and HEIs in the supply chain of quality graduates.


Badge architectureRobles (2012)Module Learning Objective(s)

Problem-Based-LearningOnline OR Classroom


This slide explains the architecture for the badges developed on this module.

The outer ring contains the top 10 key skills employers look for in graduates, according to Robles (2012).

The inner ring are made up of 3 core elementsAlignment with module outcomesAlignment with an external professional organisation called PRiMEEndorsement by an organisation6

Key Findings Questionnaire (n=6)100% aged between 20-220% of students were familiar with Open/Digital badges before this module100% said that badges had a positive impact on engagement and learning100% said endorsed badges held more value83% felt badges were something employers would value0% exported badges to an external system (Backpack, LinkedIn, Personal platform)

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Key to this slide is that none of the students exported their badges into an external system outside the VLE.7

Focus Group (thematic analysis)Why didnt they export their badges?Exporting to external systems - problemsKnowledge - lack of time to explore/investigateLack of access to platforms (LinkedIn)

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Interoperability was a problem. Students came across the issue that their badges were issued against a different email address than the address they used for their backpack.

They didnt have the time or motivation to resolve the problem themselves.

Some students didnt create backpacks and some didnt have access to external platforms which they could use to display their badges.8

ConclusionsStill a scepticEarly adoption phase in HEIn the domain of technophiles & enthusiastsMust have a good understanding of the OB infrastructure to enable supportEmployers largely unaware of badges as a currency in UK HEEndorsement gives value to informal skillsFurther research into employer perceptions of badges

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Thank you!Questions?Please feel free to give critical feedback or suggestions for improvementsContact: or @dranners

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Reading & ReferencesAhn, J., Pelliscone, A., Butler, S. (2014) Open badges for education: what are the implications at the intersection of open systems and badging? Research in Learning TechnologyAlbert Laso J., Pernas Peco, P., Lujn-Mora, S. (2013) USING OPEN BADGES AS CERTIFICATION IN A MOOC, ICERI2013 Proceedings, pp. 1809-1818.Association of Business Schools, QAA and Chartered Management Institute. (2014) 21st Century Leaders: Building Practice into the Curriculum to Boost Employability. Available at [accessed July 2014]Bedwell, L., Fiore, S., Salas, E. (2014) Developing The Future Workforce: An Approach for Integrating Interpersonal Skills Into the MBA Classroom. Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp 171-186CBI and Universities UK (March 2009) Future Fit: Preparing graduates for the world of work, London: CBI, available at: Glover, I., Latif, F. (2013) Investigating perceptions and potential of open badges in formal higher education. In: Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hyoermedia and Telecommunications 2013. AACE, Chesapeake, VA, 1398-1402.Mischra, K. (2014) Employability Skills That Recruiters Demand, The IUP Journal of Soft Skills, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp 50-55Rughinis. R. (2013) Talkative objects in need of interpretation. re-thinking digital badges in education. InCHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems(CHI EA '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2099-2108. DOI=10.1145/2468356.2468729 Hickey, D.T. (2012) Intended Purposes Versus Actual Functions of Digital Badges. Re-Mediating Assessment, 2012. ended-purposes-versus-actual.html.Resnick, M (2012) Still a Badge Skeptic. HASTAC, 2012., S. (2011) Digital badges show students' skills along with degreeavailable at accessed 9th July 2015