Monday, February 11, 2013

Open Badges - Moodle & Totara Join the Revolution

Harvard Business Review has called open badges one of four key innovations to watch in 2013.

In the world of learning there is a need for valid and verifiable accreditation. Mozilla's open badges project allows learning to be badged or accredited at different levels. They can be used for different elements within a larger programme to help incentivise learners as they collect badges or to recognise a specific piece of learning say within an employment context. The Open Badges project allows all learning to be validated and verified through the issue of badges, and then collected and stored in a central location called the Mozilla backpack. HBR recognise the enormous potential of open badges and comment "Badges — not digital diplomas — seem to be the best and likeliest bet on accreditation's future."

Mozilla's Open Badges project makes it easy for any institution, business or learning community to issue, earn and display accredited badges of learning across the web. 

In March the Totara LMS team will complete the Open Badges code which will mean that Totara will become the first LMS to support this game changing development. The code will also be adopted by Moodle which means tens of thousands of companies and institutions can start participating in the open badges revolution.

Using Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI), any institution, business or community can issue badges backed by their own seal of approval. In Moodle and Totara you can easily set up the badge for your course or activity. with your own issuing criteria for achieving the badge such as completing a course and passing an assessment. The badge is managed across the infrastructure and links back at all times to the issuing organisation. When clicked the badge reveals core information such as the issuing authority, contact details, date undertaken, learning activity and date of expiry if appropriate.

Once a learner has achieved the badge they are notified and the badge appears in their My Badges area of their profile on the LMS. The learner can then decide to push the badge to their Mozilla Badge Backpack, this is a free online site which holds and displays all their badges from any source. The learner can also decide if they want to push the badge on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

Thus a learner can capture all of the learning they have done from different sources such as a college or their employers, and display these as necessary on their CV or social media profile. Each badge when clicked will show all the issuing data and will link directly back to the awarding or issuing organisation. Thus the badge can be validated and verified.

Why use Open Badges?

For employers using badges will:

  • Extend the value of learning experiences for learners. Badges allow them to demonstrate their learning in a valid and verifiable way, and to collect and share the badges as they want.
  • Incentivise learning. Badges can incentivise learners to go that extra step to achieve their badge.
  • Promote your brand. Badges can be shared across the entire ecosystem, carrying your brand and its values along with them. More people will recognise your investment in learning and the value of your learning.
  • Build your community. Each of your badges links back to you, regardless of where they are shared or used.
As soon as I saw the Open Badges functionality demonstrated I 'got it'. A simple but very effective way of accrediting learning in the form of badges which can be collected by learners from multiple sources and validated. I wish it had been around when I was younger as then all of my learning would be listed in the form of badges on a central site, each validated and verifiable, and which i could instantly push to my LinkedIn profile. The future of accreditation is about to change.