This week I’ve been in Lithuania attending the Unique Learning Badges development week. The project aims to develop a platform, plus associated training and support for youth organisations wanted to recognise achievement by using Mozilla’s open badges standard.
Opportunities and aspirations for Unique Learning Badges
Yesterday morning our day started with a session exploring the opportunities presented by open badges and the Unique Learning Badges project. Nerijus, one of the facilitators of the week, gave an inspiring presentation giving us all food for thought on the possibilities. Some of the aspirations and possibilities for the future suggested by Nerijus included Unique Learning Badges becoming a European brand of quality with recognition of badges across the continent.
Designing badge ecosystems
We spent some time thinking about badge ecosystems and developing our own for the pilot projects which we’re going to use Unique Learning Badges in when we return to our own countries. During the morning we looked at the different elements that make up a badge and how they can be connected together in a hierarchy to construct an ecosystem with levels and progression for the learner.
As I began exploring the design of my badge ecosystem I found myself developing a complex structure of badges, breaking each element down into it’s smallest component. This allows for learners to quickly earn more and more badges, further motivating them to work towards the top level badges. My ecosystem was looking at curating and producing digital content using a variety of tools including social media services plus video and audio equipment.
Each badge is made up of a number of elements, some of these are related to the open badges standard while others will be more directly linked to the learning process. Badges should have a name, an image or visual representation, the content of the mission or task required to receive the badge, a description of the objective or competency achieved, any evidence required and the method of assessment.
Evidence and assessment
For me the most challenging part of designing the ecosystem was thinking about evidence and establishing the best way to prove each competency without making the system of assessment onerous. While looking at assessment there was a range of options including self assessment, peer assessment and more formalised methods where an assessor from an organisation would need to be involved.
Finding our synergy
After we had spent some time developing our ecosystems we former synergy groups around particular topics and ideas, spending time sharing our ideas and thoughts on our own ecosystems and then receiving feedback from other participants. In the group I was prompted to think about including a section around ethics and legalities which people should be aware of while using social media and digital tools.
This process of sharing ideas and getting feedback was really valuable as it gave an extra set of perspectives and an opportunity to have our work reviewed by critical friends in a safe environment. Going forward we agreed to continue to share our progress and development as the pilot progresses so we can continue to learn from each other – and I’ll be blogging again in future to do just that.
Learning to learn
In the afternoon we spent looking at learning to learn in relation to badges. First up we took part in an exercise to get us thinking about different peoples attitudes and experiences of learning. Each participant was given a piece of paper with a character on it and then we were asked questions about our learning experiences and attitudes, taking one step forward if we responded positively to the question and staying where we were for a negative response.
The spread of the participants at the end of the exercise was interesting and depended on our own personal take on the character making for some differing experiences and opinions. My character was a high school student and drawing on my own experiences in the education system, I found myself towards the back of the group.
360 degree learning approach
After the exercise we came back together as a group to reflect on the process and discuss the different perspectives we each brought to it. Susana spoke about 360 degree learning and provoked us to think learning in terms of who is taking part; how, when and where they learn; why they are learning and what their motivation is.
Towards the end of the week I got a bit behind with my blogging and as a result I’m catching up. Tomorrow evening I’ll be blogging about day 5, the plans for implementing Unique Learning Badges during the pilot in the UK and reflecting on the week as a whole. In the meantime you can find out more about the project on Facebook, Twitter or online at learningbadges.eu.