The Boy Scouts teach us that daily experience is the foundation of learning. Their founder’s motto, “Be Prepared!”, summarises a whole universe of learning and adventure. Little women and men with shorts and neck-ties keep Robert Baden-Powell’s words in their minds while crossing forests, rivers and mountains while grasping a Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in their hands. They learn from nature, thanks to team work, through experience. Training through playing which means getting down to business (games are a very serious matter in all sectors, from the most hierarchical ones to the wild universe of those who have chosen creativity since their childhood. For everyone, play is simulated reality!).
Therefore, starting from the scouts, it is possible to introduce a rather topical matter that has more to do with them that you would ever imagine. Mentioning them wasn’t just a ploy! With the wolf-cubs, we share informal learning dynamics, experiential knowledge and lived lives.
“Be Prepared!”, and we are: let’s enter the Open Badge factory world for the certification of skills.
Open Badges. What are they?
Pennants. Rosettes. Virtual badges. Banners to be displayed in a digital form, a certification symbol of skills acquired in an informal way.
Today you can learn everywhere.
As well as institutional educational pathways such as university, Master’s degree and PhD courses, transversal learning methods are also emerging. The open badges are configured as testing tools, devices capable of telling the entire history of the learner, personal achievements, targets, learning pathways, the names of representatives and certificate authorities. Just like the little pebbles used to mark the path you have covered, just like the breadcrumbs used by Hansel and Gretel, distributed along their path and then picked up again so as to find their way, the open badges can be “distributed” on the internet, shared, made public in order to “mark” your own continuing education course, or they can be collected in virtual schoolbags, to be taken “home” as proof of the journey undertaken.
Each experience is a source of learning
Unfortunately, the non-formal learning paths have a high risk of non-completion.
The open badges, with their wealth of data, act as indicators in heterogeneous environments, imposing order to reality and motivating the learner, who can assert his/her skills acquired with a view to approaching new employment opportunities and professional development courses. By defining skills and interests through virtual images (png) and associated metadata, it is possible to obtain a summary of the curriculum of each learner, created both online and offline during the course of his/her life.
The characteristics of the open badges
Mozilla, a pioneer in the open badge sector, has simplified the issue and display process of the “virtual educational pennant” by means of a shared technical infrastructure, so as to make the skill definition path easier with a view to approaching new professional and online and offline educational opportunities (online courses, learning networks, mentoring etc.). It summarises the main qualities of its devices in four points:
1- Free & Open: the open badge is not proprietary software. Each organisation can create, issue and check its own recognition devices;
2- Transferable: It is possible to share summaries of one’s own acquired skills on the internet, social networks and on employment websites, in a complete, coherent form;
3- Stackable: It is possible to collect the rosettes in one, single container, just like the scout’s backpack, which tell the full story of the learner and his/her skills coming from different sources and/or heterogeneous organisations;
4- Evidence-Based: The metadata defines them as being an information-rich source.
The badges make it easy to: get recognition for the skills you have acquired (Users – Learners), get recognition for skills you have taught (Issuer – Issuing authorities), get recognition for personal skills as well as the sharing of the metadata across the web (Viewers – Employers).
Any training organisation, library, museum, MOOC, company, organisation, multi-national company, industry, no-profit company, community, institution or private citizen can issue badges achieved by means of a seal of approval.
Today, certifications play a crucial role in structuring the curriculum vitae of professional figures with experience gained within both educational and non-educational contexts; Innovative technologies designed to support these many people, when they find themselves thinking “Right, well how can I prove my skills?” could represent a real turning point.
Open Badge is a new online standard to recognize and verify learning
“A picture is worth more than a thousand…non-certified words! The identity associated with the badge is protected by an algorithm which makes it possible to check the “overall veracity of all the information”. A digital e-portfolio consisting of links, texts, videos and new multimedia elements creates new experiences, for teachers, learners and employers just as much during the training processes as during the recruiting stages.
“Be Prepared!” the little men dressed in shirts and shorts chant through the woods, rivers and mountains.
And we are!
Also this is Learning Agility!”