Open Thinkering


If not now, when? Why we need #openbadges and #dmlbadges for lifelong learning RIGHT NOW.


You know what? If I could, god-like, step outside of time and decide just when to make a large-scale change to western education systems, I think I’d choose right now. Why? People are ready for change. The current system isn’t working and we haven’t got the money to prop it up any more.

And you know what else? If I could choose an organisation to come up with an alternative system, I’d entrust a non-governmental international organisation that had demonstrated its non-profit and open credentials to drive things forward. Kind of like Mozilla, then. But you’d also need big-hitters and a backer credible with educators. Step forward HASTAC, the US Department of Education and NASA.

It’s now or never. As a father of two children under five, I passionately want something different in place for my children going forward. I think this is the only chance for changing educational assessment radically before my children become adults.

If you’re involved with education at any level you know how much assessment drives learning. Whether we’re talking about intrinsic or extrinsic motivation relating to badges, we can all agree of the importance of getting something out of learning experiences. Something that shows what you know. That’s why I think badges are perfect for MOOCs, for example.

But it’s no good sitting on the sidelines. I’m off to the Mozilla Festival today to meet more people involved in the #openbadges project and, hopefully, Mark Surman (CEO of Mozilla) to discuss his proposal for a web literate planet. What can YOU do? Well, there’s $2 million of (international) competition money available for a range of things relating to badges:

  • I encourage educators to get involved in the content competition, identifying the types of content may suit badges. Closing date: 14 November 2011
  • I encourage researchers (faculty members and students alike) to get involved in the research competition to establish a sound theoretical basis for badges. Closing date: 28 November 2011
  • I encourage designers and coders to get involved in the design competition to implement the technologies required for a badge infrastructure. Closing date: 12 January 2012

As I’ve explained recently, the world doesn’t change in and of itself: it takes human agency to do so. Are you going to step up and help move things forward?

Image CC BY-NC-SA keoshi


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