Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Developments at the Badge Alliance

by James Willis and Dan Hickey in conjunction with Nate Otto

At the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, there have been a number of changes at the Badge Alliance. In a recent blog posting, Nate Otto, Director of the Badge Alliance, sets out an ambitious agenda for 2016. Beyond the on-going work of supporting productive and evidence-rich badging projects, the Badge Alliance is also concentrating efforts on communicating across the various communities and providing technical support to the ecosystem. We summarize some of those initiatives here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

So maybe open badges can get you into Harvard (or Yale or Dartmouth) after all

By Daniel Hickey and James Willis

As summarized in Education Dive and reported in the Boston Globe, Harvard and 80 representatives from other Ivy League schools released a report arguing that admissions officers should give more attention to service-learning and volunteer activities. They recommended:

  1. "Promoting more meaningful contributions to others, community service and engagement with the public good.
  2. Assessing students' ethical engagement and contributions to others in ways that reflect varying types of family and community contributions across race, culture and class.
  3. Redefining achievement in ways that both level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure."

Those of you who follow RMA can likely appreciate how much this means to us and where this post is going. Yup. Badges and assessment. That second recommendation is going to be a really tough one to implement. As we will elaborate in some length, open digital badges are intended to provide valid evidence of accomplishment outside of accredited contexts. Some new developments may allow them to serve precisely this function.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Possibilities and Challenges of Dual Enrollment for Assessment and Beyond

By Dan Hickey
My colleague James Willis was kind enough to introduce me to Emily Swafford who is the Programs Manager at the American History Association.  I emailed Emily about our several promising forays into history education, including our work with Chris Hitchcock to develop new participatory online courses at Indiana University High School and our initial discussion of the Dual Enrollment courses supervised by Indiana University's Advance College Project.  It just so happens that the current issue of the AHA's news magazine Perspectives on History just published a timely special issue on dual enrollment that was full of ideas we care about here at RMA.  In particular, it illustrated the complex challenges that emerge for assessment around dual enrollment in general and in particular when states mandate things like DE and get directly involved in school curricula.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Resource and Repository for Open Badges

by James Willis

We are pleased to announce a repository for open badges projects, articles, case studies, and links to additional resources. Our website, Open Badges in Higher Ed, has launched and is now searchable on Google and other web browsers. This site is an on-going effort by the collaborators of the OBHE project at Indiana University.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Calculus PLAnet: Promising First steps in Participatory Supplemental Instruction in Mathematics

by Suraj Uttamchandani, Tristan Tager, and Daniel Hickey

We discuss our recent pilot of networked online approaches for providing supplemental instruction for learners in Calculus. This work responds to the raging debate over how to respond to underprepared college entrants who are at high risk for failing "gateway" introductory courses, particularly in STEM and composition. Placing such students in remedial Developmental Education (DE) courses generates tuition revenue and fits within the existing course structure. But decades of research show that this approach does not work and that many of these student never move from this "remedial ghetto" into credit-bearing courses, and fewer still go on to graduate. Most now argue for providing peer-assisted Supplemental Instruction (SI) to support all students in challenging gateway courses. But because SI does not generate tuition, it draws from existing instructional resources. Additionally, SI requires space, scheduling, and supervision that many schools struggle to sustain. In this blog post we introduce an alternative approach to supplemental instruction that draws from recent advances on participatory and networked approaches to online learning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Digital Badges on Resumes and College Applications

by James Willis 

Our recent article, "Where Badges Work Better," published as an ELI Brief in July 2015 by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative as a different version, notes the difficulty in getting organizations to value badges. Translating badges to real-world outcomes like obtaining employment or entry into college is one of the next major goals of open digital badge development. This is no small task: even as badges have gained traction in educational technology, they remain a bit more remote to businesses and some college admissions departments. The Sprout Fund, a Pittsburgh, PA-based organization that "supports innovative ideas that are catalyzing change...making our community a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family" is helping move badges into the workplace and college admissions practices.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Digital Badges and the Workplace: Some Recent Resources

by James Willis 

The use and interest in open digital badges continues to grow. This is especially true for the workplace. Seen as dynamic evidence of learning and skills, badges are becoming better known and accepted by employers. This trend is expected to continue as badges become better understood in the wider conversation of credentialing and in alternative models like competency-based education. I've gathered some recent articles (with links) that discuss badges in the workplace.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Connecting Students and Teachers with Open Digital Badges

by James Willis, Dan Hickey, and John Foster*

John Foster, Ph.D. (guest blogger) is President/CEO of NOCTI and its subsidiary, Nocti Business Solutions

The Open Badges in Higher Education project is collaborating with a number of entrepreneurs who are expanding into digital badges. Recognizing prior learning assessment (PLA) has been difficult to work into the curricula of numerous programs. This is due to a number of reasons which may include lack of uniformity, difficulty of assessment, and inability to situate prior learning into an existing curriculum. That is not to say, however, that learning hasn't happened. As those who work to connect prior learning, alternative credentialing, and skills assessment can attest, prior learning can provide compelling evidence for learner capability in job and academic skills.

Friday, June 19, 2015

IBL Studios Issues an Open Source Badging Platform

by James Willis

We worked with Michael Amigot at IBL Studios in a previous project to launch the first instance of open badges in Open edX in Lorena Barba's Python MOOC at George Washington University. The code to issues badges is now available at GitHub as an open source tool for those interested in issuing their own Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI)-compliant badges. IBL designed this to be "[a] platform to award your own institution's badges. The badges you create and earn with this server are compatible with the specifications of the OpenBadges project."

Friday, June 12, 2015

3600 US Cerfication Bodies Lacking Third Party Validation

By Dan Hickey
Lumina Foundation just released a report with some surprising data about the manner in which most of the bodies that award professional certification validate their credentials.  Make me wonder if all of the concern over validity of badges and other evidence-rich digital credentials is focused too narrowly.