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[T.e.l.l. December Summary] Open Badges in Higher Education

TELL_summaryContributed by Melissa Jakubec, TRU 

Erin Fields, Liaison Librarian and Flexible Learning Coordinator, gave a fascinating T.E.L.L. session on the use of open badges in higher education and UBC’s projects in particular. Erin explained the nature of digital badges, tracing their origins to the physical
badges earned as Girl Guides or Scouts. She noted that the growth of mobile technologies has led to badges transitioning to online environments with certain apps such as 4Square and Untapped tracking activity and granting badges.

Erin defined Open Badges as a digital symbol signifying concrete evident of accomplishments, skills, qualities or participation in experiences. In fact, the “baking” process Open Badges undergo ensures that the badges contain information about who issued them, when they were issued, and the criteria for the badge.

Open Badges can bridge formal and informal learning spaces and enable learners to tell both a formal (credentialized) and informal (badged) story of their own learning. Learners can even break courses into micro-credentials using badges to illustrate skills they gained and provide evidence. Badges can also be stacked to show how learner progressed from beginning to advanced achievement in an area, giving great clarity around skill sets. Online tools like Mozilla Backpack allow learners to save and share collections of your badges. As well, at UBC badging is currently done through WordPress blogs using Badge OS and LearnDash.

Erin shared the pathways of three pilot badging projects undertaken in the 2014-15 academic year: Digital Tattoo, Video Game Law and a Master’s of Educational Technology course on mobile education. She also gave an overview of the eight additional pilot projects taking place this fall. I encourage you to watch her talk to learn more about these initiatives. More information can also be found on UBC’s Open Badges website at Badges.ubc.ca. Follow them on twitter @OpenBadgesUBC.

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