The final day of the EPIC 2015 Conference was as interesting and exciting as the first.  The theme for the morning was focussed on Humanitarian organisations, Medicin Sans Frontier and Disaster Ready spoke about how they intend to use Badges to represent skills and competences for their staff. The best bit about this was that these are organisations who recognise the value in bringing communities of practitioners together. They are looking at bringing communities together which is the value in these badges.   As a collective group they could create badges with criteria that suit the organisation and can be transferred across to other similar organisations.  Thereby saving time, enabling skills to be transferred which is good for the organisation, efficient and could save lives.

A strong thread this morning was the use of badges to provide levels of ability within organisations, including colour coding,and community development. The Open Badges passport could be used as an enabler to allow groups of people with the same badge together.  They can view who has the same badge as them, so imagine in an organisation where you want to get people to share experiences and skills and they already have something in common, thereby creating a community of practice. Instead of having broad based communities built on approval from an administrator, your access is granted by evidence that you have met via set criteria.  This could bring together groups of people in a much more useful and valuable way.

We also heard from City and Guilds Patrick Cravens who had some wonderful slides courtesy of Bryan Mathers.  City and Guilds are interested in developing partnerships and offered consultancy for developing assessed badges. Made me wonder if the QAA were going to 1)  Look at the Badges as part of the process of assurance (as they have looked at employability awards)  2) Offer their own Badges.

There were also some really inspiring presentations that were so useful and gave me so many ideas.

Two were from US institutions, Indianapolis and Oregon.  Interestingly they had both let students use non-institutional tools to create their ePortfolbestrios which meant that they personalised them, owned them and then carried on using them as a reference for other students.  One used WordPress multi-site and the other use a combination of Wix, wordpress and their Institutional tool (one instance!) and that was not so good (they said) in terms of flexibility.

The final talk was from Simone Ravaioli of Bestr.  He is part of an Italian intiative to ‘close the skills gap with Open Badges and ePortfolios.  It was very inspiring, he showed a video and you just wanted to clap at the end of it!  This wasn’t the video but this one is quite good and gives you an idea of what they are trying to do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRkf5e4ez_s

He was very good and I could see the potential for using this system across nations.

I have to say Italy had a strong presence and some great examples – University of Bologna were well represented and it would be lovely to hear more.  Overall it was such a useful and engaging conference, I would highly recommend attending the next one.  The people were friendly and everyone was interested in each others aspects of use of Open Badges and ePortfolios (even if they haven’t invested in a institutional system)  It was the learning rather than the tool that was important (Yay!)

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