#crit101 and Open Badges [UCL]

Today, I delivered a presentation about #crit101 and Open Badges at University College London. Critical Skills 101 [#crit101] is an open online course that I have been running as a case study, seeking to answer my dissertation research question:

To what extent can virtual courses support the development of independent learning beyond ‘real time’ curriculum delivery?

The course is intended to help participants develop a set of critical skills that will help them to become more effective in(ter)dependent learners.  Part way through the process of developing the course I decided that I needed a way to acknowledge their achievements. I opted to use Open Badges, having kept up with Mozilla’s work in this area.

The experience of using Open Badges in #crit101 has met with mixed results and this was a great opportunity to reflect on this. As such, it has raised more questions than answers about motivation, accreditation, value, longevity… and also a deeper consideration of the processes involved in creating, earning and awarding badges.

The slides for my presentation are available here: #crit101 and Open Badges

  • Hover over the thumbnails to view speaker notes and links (cmd/ctrl click to open in a new tab). Click on any of the thumbnails to view the slides in full size.

[Update: 02.04.13] Depending on the device/screen size you are using to look at the presentation, the speaker notes may not be that easy to navigate. As such, I have added them below…

#crit101 and Open Badges – Speaker Notes

01 – Title Slide

02 – What is #crit101?

  • Critical Skills 101 is an open online course. It seeks to introduce/develop a set of skills that will encourage independent/interdependent learning.
  • The course focuses on interdisciplinary skills that will be useful for study at FE and HE.
  • My original intention was to target KS5 students specifically. However, after some discussion with colleagues, I opted to broaden the field to include KS4 students as well.

03 – #MAinEDU

  • The course represents the culmination of work/research I have been iterating on with regards to independent learning and e-learning.
  • I am of the opinion that more needs to be done to disrupt the ‘teach to the test’ / ‘spoon-feeding’ culture present within schools.
  • I have sought to use ed-tech to achieve this, using a diverse range of tools with my students:
    • Google Docs
    • Blogging
    • Twitter
  • All with an emphasis on collaboration and reflection.
  • #crit101 uses all the above tools to encourage active rather than passive engagement.

04 – cMOOC

  • The course is underpinned by the connectivist principles of the early massive open online courses (cMOOCs)
  • Connection, collaboration and discussion are at its core, placing an emphasis on creation.

05 – Inspiration

  • The course wears its influences on its sleeves:
    • The use of a WP Blog as the course hub has come directly from DS106, along with a number of structural and pedagogical features. Thanks must go to Alan Levine for sharing the nuts and bolts of how DS106 works.
    • Another point of inspiration, particularly with regard to connecting badges with the process came from P2PU
    • And finally, I participated in MOOC MOOC – a MOOC about MOOCs. It also had a significant effect on the way that I pieced together the course, as well as inspiring a number of the assignments.

06 – In(ter)dependence

  • Participants recognise that being an effective independent learner has more to do with interdependence that autonomy.
  • As course leader I have sought to reposition myself; removing myself from the process as much as possible.

07 – Toward “Peeragogy”

  • Howard Rheingold coined the term ‘peeragogy’. The learning is developed collaboratively by the learners.
  • Put students in control; make them take ownership:
    • What do I need to learn?
    • Why do I need to learn that?
    • How should I go about learning that?

08 – 3 Tenets

  • Slide 15 from this presentation by Catherine Cronin, describes the approach I have been developing within and beyond my classroom over the last three years.
  • As I constructed and iterated on the course I have sought to ensure that openness, networks, and voice/choice are at it’s heart.

09 – #crit101 Blog

  • The blog is a hub, hosting the course content as well as syndicating the work produced by participants.
  • Syndication is made possible by using the FeedWordpress plugin.

10 – Critical Skills

  • The skills were drawn from research that I completed in a previous M.Ed. module on Independent learning.
  • Both hard and soft skills have been selected and are given equal footing.

11 – Tools

12 – Changing Roles

  • Empowering learners to take ownership of their own learning; to develop the skills and characteristics of a life-long learner.
  • Placing emphasis on creative thinking, sharing, collaboration, creation and reflection.

13 – Open Badges

  • A badge in its own right is visual representation of an achievement. Open Badges are a digital version of this.
  • They are a useful way of accrediting and acknowledging learning beyond the curriculum and seemed like a good fit for the course that I was offering.
  • I implemented them based on the Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI)
  • I worked through a lot of this process, both pedagogically and technically with Doug Belshaw who is ‘Badges and Skills Lead’ at Mozilla Open Badges team.

14 – #crit101 Badges

  • There is a badge to be earned for each skill within the course.
  • Earning the badges is built on an incremental approach. The criteria is available on the blog and is baked into the badges.
  • The badges were designed by Josh Gray – an A2 Media Studies student and one of the first participant in the #crit101 course.

15 – WPBadger

  • To issue/award the badges I am using a WordPress plugin developed by Dave Lester.

16 – Feedback 1

  • After the first version of #crit101 I sought feedback. The review of the badges garnered mixed reviews
  • Part of the problem came with the issuing and claiming the badges… WPBadger is experimental and there are some bugs.

17 – Feedback 2

  • A number of the participants said that the badges were not an incentive for them in the first place; they took the course as they wanted to develop new skills and/or improve their ability to learn independently.
  • Others said they found the idea intriguing but struggled to see the actual value of them.
  • The feedback left me with a number of questions…

18 – Open Badges – Questions?

  • Do badges work as a motivator? (Intrinsic motivation Vs. extrinsic motivation)
  • Accreditation seems to be very important. What form should it take? From where should it come?
  • Without accreditation do badges have value?
  • Should learners need to be involved in the badge design process?
  • Who decides on the criteria?
  • Who should award the badges? How would peer-assessment work?
  • How can we ensure that they are useful beyond the course/later in life?

19 – The Five Ws

  • Deciding to use badges needs to be well thought through.
    • Are they right for your course, learners, institution…?
  • Consider the Five Ws:
    • Who, what, where, when, why, (and how)?
  • Investigate use cases:

20 – Chicken or Egg?

  • The most important thing to remember is that there is no one right way with Open Badges…
  • At this stage, like the ‘chicken and the egg’, it is not so much the answer as the question that is important.

Published by

James Michie

Husband, Educator, Writer, Runner...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.