Sunday, 29 May 2016


It has been a while, my old Blogger friend.

But, I am back.

At least for now.

Since completing H800, I have graduated with a Masters in Education degree from The Open University. The logical next step? A Doctorate.

Yes, I have applied for and been granted a place on a Doctorate of Education degree. The research topic centres on the learners' experience of open badges as a motivational technology. To that end, I have been immersing myself in all things "badges" over the past month or so.

One of the starting points that I have found useful is the #OB101 website ( ), and this post is a direct response to an activity on that site where I can earn a badge by writing about badges. Fantastic! Here goes:

  • What Open Badges are
  • How Open Badges are different from digital badges
  • Some ways Open Badges can be used

Open Badges are graphical representation of an achievement. They have an analog heritage that will be familiar to anyone that ever got a fabric badge to stitch onto their scout/girl guide uniform. They are a way to show that you have performed some task or reached some level of competency that deserves to be recognised.

Digital badges are simple images. If you have ever reviewed places on Tripadvisor, you may have been awarded with a badge to recognise your contribution. Those are "digtal" badges in the sense that they are just images: they do not contain any further data apart from what you can see in the image. Open Badges, on the other hand, have data "baked" into the image. This data can contain information such as who issued the badge, what criteria were used to award the badge and any evidence that the recipient had to provide to show that they have met the criteria. They are "open" in the sense that they can be moved around different platforms and social sites while still containing links to the meta-data.

There are many ways they can be used, so I think the best way to answer this is to briefly outline how I intend to use them. I have two angles in mind: firstly, I intend to use the badges as a way to recognise formal learning milestones. In one particular module that I teach, the assessment is 100% Continuous Assessment and at the end of the year, the students get one overall final grade as a percentage. However, the assessment is broken down into about 6 mini-assessments, including a Project which is worth 30% of the course. I intend to use badges to award micro-credentials such as "Best Project of the Year", which otherwise would get lost in a simplistic overall final grade figure.

Secondly, I intend to use badges to recognise informal learning activities, such as peer-learning and participatory activity. In the current system, this form of learning takes place but goes unrecognised.