November 6, 2013

Open Badges MOOC - Challenge 5

My response for this Challenge is based on the following prompt given in the challenge text:

“In a healthy badge ecosystem: learners demonstrate their competencies in authentic learning environments, capture evidence of their achievements, and have

valid assessment to back up the earned badge. “

My Aim: Create a healthy badge ecosystem that supports the delivery of open digital badges (that have industry value) to academic staff and support staff in the area of online learning.

Authentic Learning environments:

In the area of staff professional development the learning environment is, by default, authentic. That is, all the learning is for actual, real application. For example, I recently run workshops to advise academics of the new and improve features of the Learning Management System (LMS). This is so they can apply these new features to their teaching units in the next teaching rounds.

Virtual environments – are they authentic? In certain faculties e-simulations are setup to mirror image ‘real’ situations. However in the field of study (for staff) that I am dealing with, this use of virtual environments has not come into play. However I think that staff should be recognised for their ability to assess students in these environments. This is not a new area for learning but is getting another round of focus for Learning in HE and VET. Could digital badges be used to recognise staff that are assessing in this way?

Part of the area that the badge system will touch is the completion of online self-paced units for staff Professional Development. The online units currently used are developed by qualified Education Developers employed by the University. There are also face-to-face workshops and regular peer networking events that compliment the learnings from the online self-paced study units. The teaching units that staff are responsible for, are reviewed on an ad-hoc annual basis.

Evidence of achievement:

Staff are encouraged to use their teaching units for evidence of their methods. They may have different roles in the unit from teaching period coordinator to marker. These different roles will have different evidence. However they also have an online development unit where they can practise new skills or demonstrate possible ways to use new features of the Learning Management system. The third area for evidence is an e-portfolio which is housed within the LMS. This might include links to blog posts, researched sites or other social media (ie Storify) which shows collections of participation in the ‘cloud’ environment. A fourth area of evidence is awards that have been granted from the University or Government organisations. Refer to the after badge stories below to see what this might look like.

Future considerations: How will virtual environments be assessed as evidence?

Valid Assessment:
According to the University’s Academic Assessment and Moderation Policy which is focused on student assessment and moderation:
For academic staff, assessment will
• Support the integrated development of learning and teaching;
• Provide evidence that their students have reached a required standard; and
• Provide feedback on the effectiveness of their teaching.

As there is no existing document that specifically deals with the way academic staff are “assessed”, I am using this document as an indication of what could be applied to a rigorous and meaningful open digital badge system for academic achievement. In particular digital badges are a way of providing feedback on the attainment of valid goals and skill sets.

The policy then goes even further and has areas of assessment for the University and Community. In the community assessment it mentions “graduates are employable” and “provide evidence that institutions and their teaching programs are effective”. This could then be extrapolated for staff to say that they are even more employable with their demonstrated experience at this workplace and they can uphold a good reputation in the community.It also mentions: “While assessment tasks are implemented within units, consideration needs to be given to the pattern of assessment across entire programs of learning. “
This is part of the gap that digital badges would fulfil. Digital badges for staff PD would ensure that overall skills are recognised. Skills that have been applied and have evidence and skills that are valid for better teaching and learning.

TED  the teacher: After Badge Story
Ted is about to finish his current contract with the University. While he is planning an extended holiday, he hopes to be employed in this area again. He now has evidence of his work during his time with this employer in a number of areas. He has been able to compile an online backpack with evidence in a number of areas (Online teaching units, Online development unit, ePortfolio and Awards)

After Badge Story: Wally the support guy

Wally has been supporting the LMS at the Uni for a number of years. Apart from one Certified course from Blackboard he has little other certified evidence to share. Wally’s area of evidence could include Blackboard Certification, Training sessions held with staff, self-paced online units completed and self-direct study results.

Wally also has an e-portfolio to describe the level of skills (basic, advanced, teaching others) that he has attained in various areas required by his position. He has this evidence attached as metadata to his badges that have been provided by the University and authenticated by industry standard bodies. Wally can share his badges with other areas of the Uni to allow them to ascertain his suitability for future awards, cross-university initiatives and applications for scholarship.

Happy Badging!

Updated 14/11/2013 - this challenge marked 13/15 and badge awarded