October 18, 2013

Open Badges MOOC - Challenge 4 - Validation

Layered Validation System for Open Badges

After the badge has been design the first level of validation would be Peer review. Organisations in the same industry would agree on all the parts of the badge. Badge image, name, description, criteria, issuer, evidence, standards and tags. Refer to badge anatomy for details required.
The second level would be existing standards organisations review. This would be at two different levels, technical level (eg: Australian Teacher Registration Board) and pay level (Government Department of Education).

This would ensure that the Open Badge had credibility, value and a tool for the individual to further career prospects. While the validation system ensures it meets standards it then becomes an “Australian Badge” if verified by Australian Standards Organisations.

The Open Badge Onion

Two Examples Using this Validation System

Example 1: Open Badges in a developing country context
Skill: IT Skills
Industry: Department of Health
Country: Vanuatu, South Pacific
Validation of Badges:
Badge Designed: Vanuatu Government
Peer Reviewed: Solomons Island Department of Health
Standards Organisations: Australian Department of Health, World Health Organisation and Australian Computer Society

Example 2: Open Badges for Professional Development for Academics and Teachers
Skill: teaching online
Industry: Online Learning Management Systems in the HE Education system
Country: Australian University
Badge Designed: Charles Darwin University
Peer Reviewed: Curtin University or Charles Sturt University
Standards Organisations: Australian E-standards Expert Group, Australian Computer Society

Standards Organisations in Australia that could be used to validate open Badges
Australian E-standards Expert Group

The E-standards Expert Group (EEG) is the vocational education and training (VET) sector's national forum for collaboratively reviewing and recommending technical standards to support e-learning. The group comprises representatives appointed by each State and Territory, as well as a number of observers from key stakeholder organisations. Members represent the relevant national projects and functions, each state and territory jurisdiction, and cross-sectoral bodies with complementary roles. They will also consider any e-standards proposals in the context of the plans of their jurisdictions and can present outcomes of research conducted locally.
Australian Computer Society
Skills Framework
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

Badges in the area of HE PD should align with and be validated by Standard 6: Professional Engagement. The badge design could be constructed for the four levels and have metadata to support the attainment level (eg: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished or Lead)

Background Information in relation to this Challenge

1.      Traditional accreditation – I think a modification of this system would work well with badges. However the badges are more likely to be skilled based. Validation would benefit the badge system to make it open and recognisable across state and country border.
2.      Existing standards bodies can definitely work together to provide the review of the list of competencies required. In the technology field, validation is a particular problem and has lead to a system of proprietary accreditation. So if you have a Cisco qualification, it comes from that organisation and everyone will accept that it is a Cisco qualification. However I have a qualification called A+ provided by CompTIA. Some people in the industry might recognise this qualification but it is an attempt at having and open standard that is non-proprietary. This is what we need for Learning Management Systems and online learning. Rather than getting a Blackboard qualification you need generic competencies that show the skill but can be validated in either Blackboard or Moodle systems.
3.      The reputation frameworks are clear: Blackboard, Moodle and the Higher Education and Vocational Education systems. The reputation of the University also comes into play. If the university is well known internationally, for its online coursework then it will have its own sets of competencies. These are not necessarily peer reviewed by other universities because of the ‘protect the IP’ kind of mentality that is still very strong in the Education sector.
4.      Institutional goal for badge system – easier way to assess employees for pay rise, possibly one way to increase their reputation in the education field (like getting the MOOCs up and running). Also a way to work towards a high standard of student outcomes. My ensuring that all staff have the right skills for the job (eg: tutoring and marking) then the students will get a better experience.
5.      Individual goal for badge system...can be transported across to the next job. Allows for clearly evidence of experience rather than paid-for accredited courses. A move away from expensive technological accredited courses or the requirement to “have a Masters”...allows the individual to have a well rounded and complete CV. Allows for better career planning as matching badge requirements for future positions clearly show what skills need to be obtained for the dream job.

After Badge Stories

Learning Provider : Aleeda

Aleeda is the Higher Education Developer and Trainer for the University in our Ecosystem. Going from Example 2 shown above, Aleeda will benefit from this validation system. Firstly it helps her build an assessment framework for new staff joining the organisation. She can have clear guidelines on what skills the staff should have. If the person joining the organisation already has badges, then she can quickly appraise their value because they have been validated by organisations that she is familiar with. They are not just badges that have been allocated by one University or within a single, proprietary system. According to her framework, Aleeda can then develop a clear professional development pathway for the staff to obtain the required skills. For example; a lot of staff are employed sessionally for Tutor or Marker roles. These staff do not need a full capacity of developing material online but they need to know how to use the Gradebook within the Learning Management System. They also need to understand the Universities cultural context in giving feedback to students and preferred methods of contact and terminology. Aleeda can quickly outline the online or face-2-face training that these staff require to obtain the “Tutor Badge” and then the Head of School and Theme Leaders are automatically notified that these staff have the required skill.

The results are in: Received the badge 13/15 for this Challenge! (updated 21/10/13)

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