Experimentations with Open Badges

During the project, TAKK investigated possibilities for using Open Badges as form of validation of digital competences. Open Badges are based on defined standards or criteria, created by the issuer of the Badge, to recognize and acknowledge competences, know-how, achievements, or skills. Open Badges are particularly useful in acknowledging informal learning and achievements. Open Badges have been tested and developed quite a lot in recent years and the initial feedback has been rather positive.

An interesting example was found for example with the Finnish Scout organization. Besides the traditional cloth badge, which is sewn onto the scout vest, the scouts have been rewarded digital badges for their achievements. A benefit of digital badges is that the badge is always available and cannot be lost, as it is stored in a digital backpack. It can also be shared for instance in social media. Another benefit is that the criterion for achieving the badge is available online for anyone to see. The visual badge always includes written criteria, in other words clear and short explanations and descriptions on which competences has the person demonstrated/proven to have for having received the badge.

Based on research and recommendations of other users, TAKK acquired a license for the Finnish Open Badge Factory. TAKK investigated benefits and possible pilot cases of badges as digital validation of achieved competences related to digital competences, and in this case related to Office 365, as this was one area of TAKK’s digital training scheme. Feedback on the use of badges was careful but encouraging. The badges are considered motivational and could be used especially in staff trainings. For example, if the staff training package is divided into specific competence areas that each provide a “sub-badge”, the staff members are motivated to acquire all the “sub-badges” in order to be issued the “meta-badge”, which is proof of mastering all the sub-sections of the competence area in question. The conclusion was that digital badges seem to be very suitable for micro-learning entities and can act as micro-credentials for example in staff trainings.

Another experimentation was with participant certifications for project workers, or Erasmus-mobilities. The traditional way is to provide a certificate on printed paper. However, in the future a digital certificate in the form of an Open Badge could be something for the Erasmus officials to consider!