I was invited to the launch of the Open Badge Academy at Air Street in London, the HQ of Telefonica (O2) yesterday.  Hosted by the TechPartnership which used to be eSkills we were introduced to the latest system for issuing, creating and displaying open badges.  They are built on the open standard created by Mozilla and it looks very impressive.  The system was supported by Digital Me and Makewav.es both based in Leeds and have huge expertise behind them.   There are sets of badges that are available and being trialled by 14-16 year olds, around Cybersecurity and Employability.  The event had attracted a great range of employers, local authority members, SME’s and of big employers like Samsung and our hosts, O2.  There were a few start ups that were interested in how they could vet employees using  badges and our conversations were around the importance of digital skills for the digital economy.

The format of the event was for an introduction, demo and then a couple of break out sessions. I attended a break out session from TAS who are a company with 300,000 employees, 9,000 in the UK. They already offer online challenges, so a Badge was a natural extension for them. They offer their badges to school children and the teachers organise and issue the badge to their own pupils.  I did ask a question about copy right and who owns the data.   I was thinking that if one of the tasks that the pupils did to earn a badge was to create a 6 second video, then who owned the video once it was uploaded into a system?  My reasoning was not to disrupt but to think about the implications of use, for the person uploading as they may want to earn another badge from another employer,  which might entail them using the same video.  In their minds, they created and own the video but what if the organisation issuing the badge decided to use the video as a promotion for their activities?  Who can say yes and no?  The question was answered in the next session when we discovered that the Tech partnership owned the content.  I don’t think there was anything particularly unsual about that, common practice (you are the product after all) but I think awareness of the fact that your creations may not stay your creations and the implications to that are important to consider.

I do like the Open Badge Academy.  It was very sleek and nicely designed.  It seemed very useful as well. It isn’t another displaying system, it allows the creation of the badge, endorsements, the ability to see who else has the same badge and how you are part of a community.  It was also connected to LinkedIn (that is how your recommendations happen).  It is free to education to use and worth taking a look at.

If you are interested in Open Badges in Higher Education then look out for further information about the Badge Conference to be held at the University of Southampton on March 8th 2016.  We are planning the conference now with colleagues from Warwick, Open University, Sussex and now South Wales.  More details to follow.

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