Fanshawe College considered three unique projects for their open badging exploration:
- Project 1: Lisa Wells, program manager–Woodstock Campus
- Project 2: Candace Miller, program manager, Lawrence Kinlin School of Business
- Project 3: Jessica Bugorski, chair, School of Language and Liberal Studies (SLLS)
The Woodstock Campus is developing badges for non-credit offerings. So far we have approached the Oxford Workforce Development Partnership and the Local Training Board to support our initiative. Both agencies have endorsed our project. We have selected several workshops to be part of our project. These workshops include Customer Service Training, Word, and Excel.
The primary goal of our project is to develop badges for credit courses taken through part-time studies in business. Upon completion of four courses/badges, the participant is eligible for the Digital Marketing milestone badge. Badges are being used as “just-in-time” recognition for participants and helps motivate them to continue to work toward a milestone goal.
SLLS’s aim is to augment the academic credentials in two fully online graduate certificate programs: Advanced Communication for Professionals (ADC1) and Research and Evaluation (RES1). Each badge issued in the proposed programs recognized the successful completion of the learning objectives of a course, a thematic grouping of courses, and/or a program as defined by Fanshawe College, Ontario College Quality Assurance Service (OCQAS), and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).
The project was a partial success in that it gave three academic departments of the college the opportunity to discuss badging as a future direction and consider under what circumstances they would issue badges, and to examine the CanCred platform. In addition, our Reputation and Brand Management department designed the badges (their appearance). Information Technology (IT) Services investigated what system supports would be needed to issue badges.
The project was not a complete success in that we did not implement badges due to not having a way to integrate the issuance of badges with our learning management system (LMS) or our student information system. Representatives of our IT Services department discussed this situation with CanCred. This issue was also communicated to eCampusOntario. We are still on hold pending more information about functionality that may be added to the LMS.
Badging Team Description
Three academic managers from three different departments were involved. They worked individually or with another person.
Prior to starting the project, the subject of badges had been discussed with advisory committees and received support.
During the project, meetings were held with other internal departments, including the Office of the Registrar, IT Services, and Reputation and Brand Management. Each of these departments provided questions, opinions, and caveats, and conducted some further work as mentioned above. As noted, IT Services also consulted with CanCred.
Because of the implementation issues described above, we have not brought the discussion back to advisory committees.
Badging System Structure
No badges were created or issued for the reasons described above. Only visual mockups were created.
The three groups involved at Fanshawe settled on the following three reasons why badges were to be issued, based on three different levels we devised:
- For the successful completion of a workshop (i.e., one-day workshop).
- For the successful completion of a credit course.
- For the successful completion of a cluster of courses.
Each level was to have a different badge with a slightly different appearance for each. The three departments had identified pilots but could not proceed.
There were few users testing the CanCred Platform in our pilot. Support was provided by Learning Systems Services (a department within IT Services) at the college as well as through the open badging forum/sandbox from eCampusOntario—these were very helpful. In SLLS, the e-learning coordinator and the educational support technologist explored the basic user interface of the system and its feasibility with little difficulty, but by the end of the pilot, an LMS integration for auto-generated badging became the most logical solution for sustainability. Because there were integration difficulties that arose with our LMS upgrade (which occurred half-way through the pilot), no further testing was conducted in LSS with CanCred.
No training or orientation procedures were developed.
As indicated above, because we were unsuccessful in issuing badges during the pilot, any planned data from earners and consumers as outlined in our original proposal was not undertaken.
To reiterate, the manual issuing of badging was the biggest factor hindering the widespread adoption within our institution. Questions arose as to who would be responsible for monitoring the process on an ongoing basis: the coordinator of the program, an educational technologist, support staff, or faculty themselves? What additional workload assignment was needed going forward?
Lack of a stable LMS integration and a cost for licensing both the integration from the LMS developers and CanCred are also key factors against widespread adoption. Without a seamless transition between course completion and badge issuance, a manual process would also add additional workload to the registrar’s office, if there was widespread adoption.
Discussions will continue within the college as a whole to explore a more sustainable and manageable solution to the potential of offering badging and alternative micro-credentials. Rather than focusing on credit-based courses, discussions continue on the value of badging for in-house professional development and non-credit opportunities for students at the college. Integration with the college’s co-curricular record system for acknowledging student participation and experience while in college may also be an easier way to gauge student interest. With an increase of international student enrolment, the value of a badging system and its transferability in other cultures will also need to be reviewed. Overall, however, an in-house badging system (not a third-party developer’s product) would seem more appropriate for longevity and sustainability.
- Establish a working group early in the process with representative stakeholders to avoid delays and anticipate the scope of involvement and buy-in within the organization.
- Determine early on the appropriate method of issuing badges for sustainability.
- Choose the right set of courses/programs for badge issuing and conduct external stakeholders/employee groups before commencement to determine interest and potential value.