in Education

Semester of Learning: Open Badges and assessment

Update: This will now take place at

Semester of Learning: Mozilla badges and assessment

At the Thinking Digital Conference 2011 Nicole Yershon, Director of Innovative Solutions at Ogilvy mentioned an idea that immediately struck a chord with me. The idea? Having a semester of learning. This, of course, is a term loosely borrowed from universities but the way Nicole described and applied it (before I drifted off into a reverie of what I could spend a semester learning about) was much more self-directed and informa.

I’d like to propose a collaborative semester of learning.

After being initially sceptical, I’m now super-excited about the revolutionary potential of Mozilla’s Open Badges project and I want to investigate it further. I want to go beyond the type of research I would do for a single blog post and go a lot more in depth.

I have a feeling some may wish to join me in this.

Mozilla’s project in a nutshell:

  • Today’s learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. But it’s often difficult to get credit for it.
  • Mozilla and Peer 2 Peer University are working to solve this problem by developing an Open Badges infrastructure.
  • Our system will make it easy for education providers, web sites and other organizations to issue badges that give public recognition and validation for specific skills and achievements.
  • And provide an easy way for learners to manage and display those badges across the web – on their personal web site or resume, social networking profiles, job sites or just about anywhere.
  • The result: Open Badges will help learners everywhere unlock career and educational opportunities, and regonize skills that traditional resumes and transcripts often leave out.

I’m proposing the following as a basic minimum for this semester of learning:

  1. It lasts about six weeks, from Saturday 13th August to the end of September.
  2. Participants pool their findings and have asynchronous discussions (location TBC)
  3. Synchronous discussions as and when required.

The whole thing would be very light-touch, completely interest-based and informal. We’ll experiment with approaches for badge-giving within communities both educational and otherwise and, well, generally just see how it goes.

So… you in? (let me know in the comments)

  • Graham Attwell

    Doug – am also excited by open badges – be happy join you in this – Graham

  • @petejbell

    I’m in, but no learners until September?

  • andytgeezer

    Open badges is a great idea Doug! How’s this going to work? I’d like to get involved if I can  but will need some more details and I’ll see if I can squeeze it in

    • Doug Belshaw

      Hi Andy, this is a we-make-it-up-as-we-go-along deal. I’ll keep you informed. :-)

  • coolcatteacher

    I would like to use these for students who win Flat Classroom awards, our flat classroom certified teacher program, and even for those who do the global book club for our flat classroom book. What a fascinating idea! Could we have a group for those who want tonlearn how to do this?

    • Doug Belshaw

      Definitely! The idea seems to have legs so I’ll think about the best way to organise it without swamping people. :-)

      • Lisa Featherstone

        Sounds really interesting, though I’m not totally sure how it will work – but would certainly like to give it a go.  Is the fact I’ll be away for a week during the proposed length of the semester a problem?   So count me in please. 

        • Doug Belshaw

          Not a problem at all! And we figure it out as we go along… :-)

  • Doug Belshaw

    Great! Thanks Graham. :-)

  • Doug Belshaw

    Are we not learners too? :-)

  • bandnerdtx

    I would love to join in and earn some badges! :)

    • Doug Belshaw


  • Neil Jones

    Doug, I’m interested and would be keen to share learning. I’m setting up a digital conference for independent prep school heads in the spring and this would provide the perfect springboard.

    • Doug Belshaw

      Great! :-)

  • Pingback: Semesters of Learning | Blog | Docs | New Doc

  • herrn96

    Count me in – keen to see how this could all work. Could end up a bit like being back in the Scouts again!

    • Doug Belshaw

      I had 29 badges when I was a Red Sixer in Cub Scouts. :-)

  • johnjohnston

    looks like interesting stuff Doug. Also looks like you are heading for territories unknown ? was new to me, hopefully going to try a course there. 

    • Doug Belshaw

      Well you know me John, I like to mix things up a bit! Hope to see you at SLF. :-)

  • lou mcgill

    very interested doug partic from home learning perspective – but very busy during sept re oer stuff. I may dip in if I can

    • Doug Belshaw

      Great! I’m aiming for it to be a halfway house between a glorified hashtag and MOOC. We’ll see how it goes…

  • Sirkku Nikamaa

    Great idea, fantastic initiative! I am in – as a learner, and will try to test this with some students in Finland later. Hope to see you at the SLF.

    • Doug Belshaw

      Fantastic! Yes, see you at SLF. :-)

  • Pete Bell

    OK, I misunderstood. 
    I’m still in.
    Although will be on hols for 10 days in the middle.

    • Doug Belshaw

      No worries, there’s no ‘course’ anyway. :-)

  • Ant Heald

    “Today’s learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom.”

    So true: I’m learning about this in a beach bar on the Costa Brava. Wifi is too dodgy for me to explore the links properly, and I’ll be here for a few more days, but will keep an eye on the project and see if I can chip in once I’ve actually understood it!

    • Doug Belshaw

      Look forward to your collaboration, Ant! :-)

  • Adam Cohen

    Doug – I am also excited about this. I am in! Just let me know what you need from me and I am ready to go… I have been thinking for a long time now that there needs to be another way to “qualify” the education that an individual gets from all of those things OUTSIDE of class… This could be interesting.

    • Doug Belshaw

      Oh good! Well, as I’ve been trying to convey, this is self-directed but collaborative, social and informal. It’s kind of halfway between a glorified Twitter hashtag and a MOOC. :-)

  • Ian Squire

    Hi Doug, Please count me in. This seems like an amazing opportunity. As my school talks about ‘doing more with less’ This could be just the ticket. 

    • Doug Belshaw

      Good to have you onboard!

  • iq7

    That’s nice.
    Thanks Doug!

  • Deborah Seed

    Hi Doug

    I’m very interested in this. In preparation for an MSc in Multimedia and e-learning, I’ve  completed an OpenLearn unit: creating open educational resources, through which I have discovered more interesting courses ie through Merlot, Moocs.  Also ‘learning’ Mahara out to record information. 

    I’m now clearing out a drawer ready for my badges!! 

    I’m in hospital for a minor op, out on Saturday for 2 week recuperation – perfect timing to learn even more stuff.

    • Doug Belshaw

      Great! Hope the op goes well and look forward to collaborating from Saturday. :-)

  • Grainne Hamilton

    Hi Doug, I really like the open badges idea and would like to be involved… however…I’m on holiday during that period and we’re quite busy with launching the new (JISC RSC Scotland) service so not sure how much I’ll be able to contribute. Would still like to be involved if you think it would be possible though!

  • Doug Belshaw

    Hi Grainne, I’ve just made the decision to move things over to so feel free to sign up there. :-)

  • Daniel Stucke

    Hi Doug, good thinking here i like it. Is down for everyone or just me right now?

  • Daniel Stucke

    Hi Doug, good thinking here i like it. Is down for everyone or just me right now?

    • Doug Belshaw

      According to it’s just you. ;-)

      See you managed to get there in the end – thanks for contributing!

      • Daniel Stucke

        Yeah got in in the end, was down for servicing I think. Looks a really interesting idea – will be good to see where it leads.

        Dan Stucke

    • Doug Belshaw

      According to it’s just you. ;-)

      See you managed to get there in the end – thanks for contributing!

  • Pingback: John's World Wide Wall Display

  • Pingback: What did we learn during a ‘semester of learning’ on #openbadges over at |