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Badges, Facebook and eportfolii: Open Learning Badges and Higher Education – Threats and Opportunities -- 281 -- Short (oral) Paper

09:00 - 10:20 on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 in Main Theatre

Predictions on the imminent demise of existing higher education institutions due to the growth of online learning have been made for quite some time. However, these institutions have proved to be very resilient, even integrating online learning technologies to improve their teaching and increase their geographical reach. Many have attributed this resilience to the their effective cartel in accreditation and some have suggested that rather than leading to the decline of higher education, online learning may only lead to a dis-aggregation, where institutions will still control the accreditation process. “Open Badges” is an attempt to build a micro-accreditation system that allows organisations to award accreditation, in the form of electronic badges with associated evidence, for small chunks of learning and that can be used by individuals to display skills. The Mozilla foundation and others are currently working on the development of an open source ecosystem for badges which has the potential to become a trustworthy parallel accreditation system outside the higher education system (Mozilla Foundation et al, 2011). Such an accreditation system could lower the cost of awarding reliable accreditation for courses (and other learning experiences) and this, alongside the ability to display actual skills, may result in a rapid uptake by independent training providers as it gains recognition among employers. To succeed, this ecosystem needs to address issues such as, authentication, reliability, robustness, cascading and the quantification and aggregation of awards. If this succeeds, it will increase the competitive pressures on higher education (Ossiannilsson and Creelman, 2012) and could enable a completely separate education and training system that might reduce the relevance of formal higher education. However, it may also be an opportunity for higher education. If it can integrate this badge ecosystem into its own accreditation system, it may be able to take better advantage of the availability of Open Educational Resources, reduce costs in Accreditation of Prior Learning and its own assessment and accreditation systems, as well as more effectively display the skills of graduates. Such cost reductions may help deflate the controversially suggested education bubble and maintain the relevance of formal higher education institutions for undergraduate education.


Here is the presentation. I'll be delivering through Adobe Connect so that my colleagues in the US can join us: Any comments for improvement welcome.

Thursday, 6 September 2012, 07:34