Diplomas and training certificates are used to certify skills acquired during academic or apprenticeship training. However, there are many skills acquired over a lifetime or experience that do not appear on these official documents. “Soft skills” include leadership or advanced knowledge in a particular field such as a Google certification. This know-how is extremely valuable in the business world, and this is where Open Badges come in.
Open Badges can be used to highlight, authenticate and share these skills and learnings, which are sometimes informal. Here is a summary of how they work and how to use them.
Open Badge: a digital recognition of skills
An Open Badge is a standard digital badge system for valuing and certifying informal skills or knowledge acquired informally or outside the traditional academic system.
Definition and operation
An Open Badge is a digital record of information (metadata) related to learning, achievement, skill, expertise or ability. The metadata contained in the badge indicates the name of its issuer, the name of its beneficiary, its criteria and the date of attribution. An Open Badge can come as a digital image containing this metadata, or as a URL link.
An Open Badge requires a specific structure to exist:
- To store them and verify their authenticity, “badge bags” or “portfolios” are used to display the metadata next to the badge image. These are digital platforms that allow you to receive, display and share your Open Badge. One example is “Open Badge Passport”.
- To design and issue them, you need to be certified, for example by IMS Global Learning Consortium. The Open Badge standard is open, meaning that all certified organizations can create, issue, display or host their own digital badges.
Screenshots of the BCdiploma Open Badges creation and issuance platform, certified by IMS Global Learning Consortium:
The validity of an Open Badge is verifiable, and it can only be claimed by its owner. Open Badges platforms allow you to check the validity of a badge and access its proof:
The history of Open Badges: where do they come from?
In 2011, the Mozilla Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation created the first Open Badges in the United States. The goal was to help people of all ages, especially the most disadvantaged, enhance their informal skills and thus access more career opportunities. Following a test launched in the summer of 2011 in Chicago (The Chicago Summer of Learning), Open Badges have been adopted by several American universities such as Harvard, Indiana and Purdue. Today, more and more American universities are using certified structures to issue their Open Badges.
Open Badges came to France around 2015, and this innovation was first supported by the Normandy region (DRAAF). They mainly developed with the Bologna Declaration for Open Recognition in 2016, the “Badgeons la Normandie” project in 2017, and the organization “Reconnaître” founded in 2018. Today, other French regions are supporting their implementation, such as the Centre-Val de Loire, Pas de Calais and Nouvelle Aquitaine, which define themselves as “learning territories”.
What are the uses of Open Badge in universities today?
According to a study by the IMS Global Learning Consortium and Credential Engine published in 2020, in 1.5 years, Open Badge issuance has increased by 80%! Their development is growing worldwide, and their users are diversifying.
Here are some examples of uses of this digital innovation.
How can universities use these credentials to encourage students and provide a complementary educational approach to grades?
Valuing students’ informal skills means recognizing their individual value, motivating them and fighting against dropping out. It means valuing skills that grades do not recognize, such as listening, participation, motivation, curiosity, and the ability to keep trying. Through a gamification approach, Open Badges are a complementary approach to traditional education and motivate students by rewarding them for their learning.
How can students use Open Badges to add value to their resumes with skills that complement those of their diplomas?
Students or graduates can display Open Badges on their resume with two objectives in mind:
- To help them stand out: Open Badges are granted individually and are thus a way to value a personality trait, a personal commitment, an experience. They are used to convey an identity and a uniqueness, to have a different path from other students in the same school curriculum.
- To value “soft skills” useful for corporate life: Open Badges are a great way to promote soft skills that are increasingly sought after by employers today. According to the Skill Survey, 77% of employers consider “soft skills” to be more important than “hard skills”. Why? Because they are applicable in multiple careers, are proof of adaptability, and can be applied in various work situations (project management, teamwork, management, problem-solving).
How Open Badges can help value continuous training and learning?
Since learning evolves over a lifetime, everyone now has the opportunity to display the acquisition of new skills. The continuous training of employees is thus a growing concern for companies. Providing employees with badges is a way to approach career management and employee development differently.
Using Open Badges as Community Federators
Open Badges have become real connectors between people with similar commitments or interests. They create communities and bring together their members who interact via social networks, digital platforms or physical locations.
What does the future hold for digital Open Badges?
Open Badges will play an important role in providing access to certification for all. By improving the acknowledgment of current formal and informal skills, they are intended to promote the multiplicity and diversity of certification criteria.
From Open Badge to Open Education
Open education is a social project of open education ecosystem and sharing of educational resources: everyone must be able to learn by themselves and develop their skills. Open Badges play a key role in this movement, as they make personal learning visible, verifiably certify it and share it.
Which technologies can further improve this type of digital credentials?
Several technologies could accelerate the development of Open Badges and increase their potential. The geolocation of badges already allows to highlight “learning territories” and thus to acknowledge informal recognition.
The blockchain enables the issue of totally secure Open Badges by ensuring that all data is encrypted, forgery-proof and unchangeable.
BCdiploma, 100% blockchain Open Badges
BCdiploma is certified by IMS Global Learning Consortium and has created the first 100% blockchain-based Open Badges. BCdiploma badges are tamper-proof, unchangeable and future-proof for professional use of digital badges.
BCdiploma has a complete range of micro-certifications and Open Badges to enhance short courses and skill blocks. The company also provides a digital platform for you to create your micro-certifications and Open Badges with your settings, logo and external links.
Want to learn about BCdiploma’s 100% blockchain micro-certifications or find out more about the company? Click here
What is an Open Badge?
Open Badges are digital credentials that serve as evidence of specific achievements or the mastering of a new skill. Organizations create and issue Open Badges for you to earn, enabling you to build up your collection and share them across the web. Each badge contains data about your skills and the issuing organization within a portable image file.
How can you earn a digital badge?
For instance, when you complete a specific set of tasks, courses or learnings, a badge is issued by a training organization as a digital proof of your achievement.
Are Open Badges free?
Open Badges are free and operate on an open technical standard that any organization can use to create, issue and verify digital badges.
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