No, but Open Badges have been disruptive… and I mean that in a good way. Open Badges can make ePortfolios better and vice-versa.
Kate Coleman – excerpt from video below
Why this post?
ePortfolio Pilot at the Local College
It’s sparked partly by a Mahara ePortfolio engagement I now have with Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (It’s also pretty cold here now and I have time to think.)
As I help facilitate the Train the Trainer workshops, I find I can’t stop talking about Open Badges and ePortfolios as #morethanfriendswithbenefits (thx Kate). As a result, they’ve asked me to present an updated version of my Open Badges presentation from last October’s CAPLA conference for their RPL@Noon next Thursday 21 January at 12pm CT. (Livestream link. I’ll link to the recording later.)
So right now, I’m refactoring the CAPLA presentation for a college audience, bringing ePortfolios and RPL explicitly into the mix. This post is prep, but it’ll go into more detail.
Increasing Traction for ePortfolios
In addition to the RRC gig and an ongoing Mahara gig at Carleton University, I’m seeing signs of life in recent posts by senior leaders in Canadian HE, such as this one about “Learning outcomes for life” by Peter Wolf at Queen’s. And earlier in 2015, Alan Davis, President of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, keynoted at a Carleton-organized ePortfolio summit on the need to document and validate the 90% of learning that happens outside the classroom (actual mileage may vary for the “70:20:10” ratio, but the principle is well-established).
DeakinPrime diagram; see also E-Learning Provocateur
Certainly ePortfolios are enjoying a surge of adoption in the US, thanks in part to the tireless efforts of the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) with support from AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative and their famous LEAP rubrics, which fueled Deakin University’s innovative GLO Hallmarks initiative.
AAEEBL is currently chaired by Tracy Penny Light of Thompson Rivers University in BC. I wish more Canadian institutions belonged to this nonprofit organization that’s helping colleges and universities both improve and demonstrate the value of what they have to offer.
But There Are Issues with ePortfolios
Ideally, ePortfolios are individualized hubs for Personal Learning Environments that foster autonomous lifelong learners who can authentically demonstrate the kind of holistic outcomes that AAC&U’s LEAP rubrics are designed to assess. Alan Davis’ famous diagram illustrates this ideal in some detail…
… but in practice, ePortfolios are:
- Hard work to develop (ironically, the chief reason it’s so valuable as a learning tool – “portfolios FOR learning”)
- Hard work to assess (big problem for scalability and educator engagement)
- Often poorly understood by stakeholders and/or hijacked from their learner-centred mission to meet the compliance needs of institutional accreditation, resulting in a negative impact on learner engagement
- Generally either siloed institutional technology platforms that can’t effectively integrate the entirety of a learner’s Personal Learning Environment, or fragmented “free” social media accounts that lack alignment with learning goals and whose data is owned and harvested for profit by a dotcom (Jim Groom’s commercial spinoff of DS106, Reclaim Hosting, is an interesting exception.)
Yikes, sounds dire. Something was obviously needed to come to the rescue. Enter Open Badges.
Mozilla and ePIC 2012
Since their introduction at ePortfolio and Identity Conference (ePIC) in 2012, Open Badges have put the fizz back into this important international gathering, similar to how adding fresh yeast rejuvenates a bottle-conditioned Belgian beer (yum).
Open Badges have come to dominate subsequent ePIC events as a key innovation, enabling discourse about ePortfolios to escape from what was an increasingly stale intellectual space, popping the cork and pouring out new ideas (to torture the Belgian metaphor, although it’s coffee I have at my elbow, not beer.)
Here are some of those ideas, from a small selection of the community I learn from.
Kate Coleman – Portfolios and Badges – friends or foes?
My title for this post is a bit of a knock-off of a great cluster of discussion that Kate Coleman of Deakin University and David Gibson of Curtin University prompted early last year in this Feb 2015 instalment of the great Transforming Assessment series. Kate did a shorter version for a UK conference in April:
She sums up with these remarks in an online discussion after the first presentation:
I believe in the symbiotic relationship of open badges and portfolios for making:
- badge claims
(Don: i.e. targeted evidence packages to challenge for badges)
- developing narrative for self and identity
- learning about self, developing self efficacy
- developing digital citizenship skills
- creating badge context
Kate is pressing forward with these notions in her role at Deakin University (home of the GLO Hallmarks initiative mentioned above and DeakinDigital, which deserves a blog post all its own) and also as an international member of the Board at AAEEBL.
Serge Ravet of ADPIOS (better known as the impresario of the ever-evolving ePIC conference) is collaborating with Discendum Oy of Finland on a DML-funded project, based on a brilliant proposal.
Discendum’s Open Badge Passport is a more robust and flexible alternative to the Mozilla Backpack, but remains compatible with it. It can act as a micro-portfolio: its Pages improve on Collections in the Backpack: not only can you arrange badges on in the order you want, you can curate them with additional files, headings and text boxes. (See example at the bottom of the page.)
But Serge (as usual) is more ambitious:
To explore this issue, one needs to understand that Open Badges are much more than “Digital records of achievements, skills, interests, affiliations or roles” (Mozilla); they are also connectors between people, places, organisations and ideas!
And adds elsewhere:
With Open Badges, ePortfolios won’t be simply “open” they will also be “distributed” and “shared” and it is these qualities that will contribute to making them “trustworthy.”
Serge is currently pursuing this via blockchains and open ledgers. His vision: a distributed eportfolio owned by the learner, unbeholden to any institutional or corporate interest, that can be aggregated on the fly, and where the roles of issuer, earner and consumer interweave. I’m sure we’ll hear lots about this at ePIC in October (did I mention that it was in Bologna?)
G. Alex Ambrose – Pairing Digital Portfolios & Badges to Recognize Informal Learning
Alex Ambrose is another prominent member of AAEEBL, with a gift for expressing these ideas in ways that speak well to more mainstream audiences. As he says here in his great presentation to the Badge Alliance in August 2015 (also cited in my last post):
Why Digital Badges Need ePortfolios:
If digital badges are going to be evidence-based and transferable… the ePortfolio platform is best optimized to deliver that evidence and provide a logical space to showcase the badge.
Why ePortfolios Need Digital Badges:
If we want to keep the eP EKG pulse alive and connect employers to ePortfolios that communicate specific competencies…. digital badges provide the motivation and opportunity for the students to make their learning visible.
At Notre Dame, Alex is exploring relationships between Open Badges, ePortfolios and even Co-Curricular Records (I’ll be exploring CCRs in a future post). His presentation, linked above, is well worth reading and you can also read the Badge Alliance discussion from the August presentation.
ePortfolios Can Effectively Demonstrate Soft Skills
Reflection, direct and indirect evidence, curation, alignment to rhetorical purpose or aspirational goal – ePortfolios can authentically demonstrate a lot of things, and Open Badges can recognize them.
Open Badges and ePortfolios are Symbiotic
That’s pretty clear; I don’t have much to add to the others above, except that Open Badges can be the hardened pieces of evidence that can make ePortfolios more articulatable (is that a word?) What I mean is that badges and ePortfolio evidence can be recognized at a higher level such as Milestone badges, which can be combined with other Milestone badges and other ePortfolio evidence (and other forms of RPL assessment) to achieve even higher level recognition such as a DeakinDigital post-graduate credential. Gaps between badges can be filled by other eportfolio evidence and new learning in a fluid way. (I think this needs a diagram – future post!)
LinkedIn May Be One Kind of ePortfolio, But It’s Not Free and It’s Not Enough
We Can’t Get Too Far Ahead of Users
This is one of the reasons I’m a bit nervous about blockchains. I think we have a long *social awareness* row to hoe, and we should be thinking more about that.
For example, we need to convince people why “Open” is important and how LinkedIn is not enough, otherwise they’re just going to take the easy route being offered by some digital badge providers and end up locked inside gated online communities.
Open Badge Passport is Awesome
This example from my own personal Passport has it all: badges, headings, notes, even embedded video! It’s basically a one-page ePortfolio whose contents can be remixed in other Pages for other audiences. You can see from this example why I’m so anxious to bring this to Canada. (See my Jan 1 blog post.)
I expect lots more from Open Badge Passport in 2016. AND its Canadian equivalent, TBA soon.
Another long post…ack! My goal is to get these under 1000 words.
Addendum: Badge Alliance Community Call
This blog post and another from Serge Ravet on his blog provided the agenda for the Jan 20, 2016 Community Call of the Badge Alliance. See below the presentation I threw together for that meeting. Here’s the Etherpad record.