April 7, 2014

VTE Partners with Mozilla Promoting Digital Badges in Education

This text was initially published by Vitrine technologie-éducation under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licence, before Eductive was launched.

VTE (Vitrine technologie-éducation) and Mozilla are partnering to promote a broader use of Open Badges in education in Québec.
These digital badges confirm formal and informal skills acquisition. In other words, they apply the well-known scouts’ or ski schools’ awards to a blog, a web page or social media.

Examples of Mozilla’s Open Badges available under a Creative Commons agreement (CC BY 2.0)

The badges are rewards for motivation, contribution, participation, retention or acquisition of a new skill. They provide an opportunity to reward a student who fails to complete a course, taking competencies acquired into account. A badge can highlight the merit of the best in class, but also those students who make the most progress. Furthermore, Open Badges plays a digital certification role in individual skills acquisition.
Thus, every individual, regardless of age, can earn recognition, whether an employee or a student, regardless of whether they are enrolled in a pre-university program, technical program or continuing education. The badge is primarily focused on the individual adhering to the principle of lifelong learning.
The badge concept makes sense in an environment that goes beyond the field of education. Outside the school, it is also possible to give a badge for skills acquired through volunteering. Therefore, badges highlight an individual’s accomplishments beyond evaluations rooted in education, taking into account other interests as well as community involvement.
Easy to implement, badges can provide important recognition. Anyone can easily create their own digital badge in a few clicks. However, this flexibility brings disadvantages. Consequently, without any formal references to an accepted framework of competencies, a badge would not have any value added. As a result, the market could be flooded with worthless badges that could discredit the whole system.
To avoid such an eventuality, VTE has recently decided to partner with Mozilla to promote digital badges and the open technology that supports them. This partnership between VTÉ and Mozilla will allow concerted recognition and sustainable use of Open Badges in education in Quebec. Specifically, VTÉ would federate the various education institutions’ initiatives to promote shared expertise and prevent wasted time through reinventing the wheel.
This subject is just at its beginnings. Everything needs to be designed. The challenge is not technological, but rather educational.
Following an earlier call for interested partners, several institutions have reported their initiatives. For example, earlier initiatives include the Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC) at Champlain College Saint-Lambert which will be harmonized during the next few months. Furthermore, the Continuing Education and Business Services Department at Cégep Bois-de-Boulogne has conveyed its thinking about. Cégep@distance’s plans to consider badges in some online courses. Other pioneers include Dawson College and DECclic  which are validating technological integration with Moodle.
Feel free to contact me if you have any experience or interest in this area. This adventure is just starting!

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