Open Badges Workshop @ MootUK14

A long time ago I blogged about the potential use of Open Badges – and like everything, it’s always nice to reflect on these things as time goes by. So somewhat aptly, ten months after I posted that last blog post, here I am, sat in Edinburgh as part of the Moodle Moot 2014 – sitting through a session on Open Badges!

People who have read my blog will know I’m not reserved in stating my opinion on a subject – however when I read back over that last blog post, my mindset was quite similar to how it was back then. Back then, I could see the potential, but didn’t know whether it would take off.

Sitting through this session this morning, Carla Casilli and Grainne Hamilton talked through the potential of badges. The first thing which struck me was as they talked about they way which the Scottish Qualifications Authority who are actively investigating the usage of Open Badges. For me, this is the biggest “hook” I’ve seen within the UK for Open Badges. I’ve always thought that for badges to really take off, it needed a major body/organisation at the top – and to see this happening in Scotland – shows a real positive step. It’s apparent from looking at the companies who are successfully using Open Badges, that most are American – so to have a UK organisation doing this can only be a positive step.

The biggest and most important part of the session for me was looking at the Jisc Open Badge Design Toolkit. Like many things, you never really realise just how much goes into creating a badge. From the outside, it looks just like a simple graphic – How hard can it be? Five minutes in Photoshop, maybe, if that! In fact, there’s so much more to it. Cosmetically, yes, it’s a graphic, but under it all, the metadata is what makes it tick – and to plan it, is a massive planning process:

Once you get into the planning process, considering the earners, the viewers, the endorsers and the issuers – it all starts to make a bit more sense. Yes – you’re forced to run through all the planning in order to make a badge that works – but in doing this, you have something far more valuable.

I still stick by my comment from ten months ago – you need the Endorser of the badge to be a leading name/organisation/company in order for the badge to carry extra value – especially when you consider its transferability – and within the NHS – this could be a real step forward – we really could have a transferable compliance record – which could save thousands of hours of time which could then be spent clinically – but that same view also works for the private sector – no-one would have to repeat training undertaken for another organisation!!

It’s important to remember that badges aren’t compliance or a skill, they’re a graphical representation of that compliance/skill – but what a valuable tool they could be if we all tapped into it properly.

I’m really keen to find some more UK examples of Open Badges usage – particularly if it’s in the Public Sector – so if you know of any, please leave a comment about this, or anything else below!