Competency-Based Education and Open Badges

The past few weeks have seen a few exciting developments for Open Badges. In June, and in response to recommendations of the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG), the UK Minister for Skills commented that educational agencies and awarding bodies should be actively looking at the opportunities offered by ‘Open Badges in the areas of peer assessment, employer partnership, learning analytics and the engagement of learners’

Discussions on how Open Badges could benefit the areas mentioned above and a range of other educational opportunities in Scotland, have been taking place via the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group (OBSEG) I set up with the RSC Scotland, over the past year. This group brings together many Scottish educational institutions, agencies, employers, student groups and the national awarding body to consider how this form of digital credentialling could enhance learning and accreditation. Members of the group, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), made a commitment to investigating how they could use Open Badges in 2013, and it is likely this will initially include badges for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) for SQA qualifications and recognition of Continual Professional Development (CPD) of SQA staff.

The SQA have also been working with Education Scotland and educational practitioners on a new competency-based education system, implemented in Scottish schools this year, Curriculum for Excellence. This curriculum recognises that learning happens everywhere and aims to support learners develop skills for learning, work and life through the development of four capacities: successful learners; confident individuals; responsible citizens; effective contributors. It is acknowledged that Open Badges could be a good fit for recognising the wider range of an individual’s attributes and strengths, as well as academic achievements, such a competency-based system can allow.

Given this Scottish backdrop and as I am about to commence a new role with Blackboard, I was pleased that Blackboard also recently made a strong commitment to investigating competency-based education and badges. They are collaborating with the American Council on Education to undertake research into a competency-based approach and the use of digital badges to record achievements.

Interesting developments and I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress over the coming year. Finally, the Open University have also published an intriguing post for a Senior Producer Accreditation and Assessment, to drive a programme of accreditation for informal learners. Great opportunity for implementing Open Badges…


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