Open badges summit provides big ideas for BC higher education

Last week, BCcampus staffer Michelle Glubke attended the  Summit to Reconnect Learning in California’s Silicon Valley. The conference brought together over 250 people to discuss at a high-level how badges could be used in learning. Following is her summary conference report.

Michelle Glubke
Michelle Glubke

Summit Format 

The atmosphere of the Summit began with a full slate of morning sessions that suggested building a coalition to combat the challenges within the education system and major socio-economic and environmental issues. The afternoon included a five-hour SWOT-type brain dump exercise – small groups charting advantages and challenges, as well as pathways to realizing a large-scale badging movement. During the Summit, there were many announcements, like Mozilla releasing a Badge Kit to assist with standards for designing, assessing, issuing and sharing badges.

The second day included some break-out time to discover and discuss how to realize personal projects at a high level. I met up with Creative Commons’ Billy Meinke and WCET’s Mollie McGill, as well as, folks from MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, P2PU, industry, philanthropy, private, secondary and post-secondary.

Summit Themes 

  1. Connecting informal and formal learning – badging skills, knowledge and experience achieved outside of formal ed system linking that to prior learning credit and/or US common core.
  2. Providing young people, particularly in lower socio-economic demographic, a way to discover and access more learning – using badges to recognize granular-level learning and the individual, unlock opportunity, and chart pathways (to jobs).
  3. U.S. cities committing to city-wide partnerships to offer badges for learning and levelling up after success of Chicago Summer of Learning
  4. Alignment with large-scale employment and education projects – Bill Clinton endorsing badges in this video . The three people highlighted were key speakers at the Summit.
  5. Connecting war vets to jobs after service by badging/displaying skills achieved during service.
  6. Competency-based education models, strategic communication and partnerships identified as ways to get the badging movement rolling.
  7. Large tech employers (i.e. Intel) discussing how badging can assist with identifying qualified job applicants by showcasing skills that aren’t otherwise apparent.
  8. Recognition that most funders want evidence, but few want to pay for it.
  9. Recognizing those who have committed to the movement through a pledge 
  10. People on site promoting their flavour of a system/product that would complement badging – usually involving personal pathways.
  11. Focus on STEM and STEAM projects.

Tools and Resources 

  1. One of my favourite discoveries was that of Nate Otto from Portland. He works on a Indiana U team funded to study the MacArthur Foundation grant winners of the 2012 DML badging project competition. The result so far is a card deck of principles to assist with the badge system design process. Upcoming documentation will be located here.
  2. Knowledge bank of curated resources
  3. Newly created Badge Alliance was announced during the Summit.
  4. A number of commitments from educational and workforce development organizations to adopt Open Badge standards
  5. Cities of Learning Tech Package
  6. Designing an Open Badge project – Please contact for details.

BCcampus & Open Badges? 

BCcampus is exploring how Open Badges can apply to our other collaborative projects. Here are only two examples:

  • ETUG: the Educational Technology Users’ Group is exploring the use of Open Badges for their members.
  • Open Textbook Project BCcampus would like to offer badges for adopters, adapters and creators of B.C. open textbooks.